Chapter 15

The kingdom of God
Mark 4:26-34 (NIV)

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26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces corn—first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” 30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” 33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

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Mark 4:26-34
How does God’s kingdom come?

We have already seen that the Kingdom of God has come! Jesus came as a human being to Bethlehem and thus to this world. The Kingdom will come when Jesus returns in glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. Meanwhile it does come whenever someone yields to the Saviour/King. Jesus here teaches His kingdom comes as the seed of God’s word is sown. It is sown through gospel preaching, Bible teaching and through personal witness to Christ’s saving power.

Jesus teaches that God’s kingdom comes as when a man scatters seed on the ground or plants a mustard seed.

Mark 4:26-32
How does God’s kingdom grow?

Jesus tells two parables demonstrating the growth of God’s kingdom. We have considered the parable of the soils. The other covers planting mustard seed. Putting them together we learn about kingdom growth in five ways.

First, when God’s word takes hold of an individual or a nation, it grows continually. Jesus says it grows Night and day. Secondly, initially it grows invisibly. No-one but God knows it is growing. Sometimes God’s early work in the life of a guilty sinner is not even realised by the person concerned. Third, its growth is ordered and definite. There’s an ordered sequence before the seed becomes grain for harvesting. God makes guilty sinners recognise their sin, turn from it to Christ who died for them, and yield their lives to Him to forgive them and to take over in His reign of love and truth. Progress in Christ is through the Holy Spirit’s work. Fourth, its growth is gradual. Seed planted on Friday morning is not seen growing on Friday afternoon![1] Fifth, the ultimate change is immense! As God works in our lives to bring us to His forgiveness we change from lost Hell-bound rebels into saved Heaven-bound Christians!

Mark 4:33-34
How is God’s kingdom understood?

Jesus continues to use parables to explain God’s truths to as many as can understand. (Christian speakers should make complicated things simple, rather than simple things complicated, though we all fail at times!) But note Jesus’ prime concern is that His disciples understand Him! He wants His followers to grow in His truth. He accomplishes these aims by spending time alone with them: when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything.

Jesus values highly time spent alone with His disciples, considering His word. His followers today now must also spend time alone with Him and listen to Him through His word![2]

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[1]    .  In 2 Peter 3:18 the Christian is told to grow—not to jump—in grace and knowledge!
[2]    .  2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16.

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Questions on Chapter 15
Mark 4:26-34 The kingdom of God.

A. In what sense has God’s kingdom already come? In what sense is it here now? In what sense will it come in the future?    Matthew 2:1    John 19:3    John 19:19-22    Romans 14:17    Colossians 1:12    1 Timothy 6:13-16-17   Revelation 19:11-16

B. Using the illustration of seed that Jesus uses, how does God’s kingdom grow?   Mark 4:26-29

C. What should you pray in order to understand God’s word better? Can you do anything else to help your understanding of the Bible?   Luke 10:38-42    1 Corinthians 2:12-14