Reading the New Testament recently I came across a parable that, frankly, I don’t recall ever having read or heard before. Short and to the point, I found it beautifully revelatory as it expressed to me what our duties, assumptions and expectations should be regarding the Savior’s commission that we share with others the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The parable of the seed growing by itself is found in Mark 4:26-29:
"So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."
How many of us make assumptions when we look around or engage with others, as to who will or will not accept an invitation to know more about Jesus Christ and his gospel? I certainly have been guilty of looking at someone and thinking, “Naw, I don’t think so. Not him. Certainly not her.” Yet truth be told, no human can ever fully or accurately discern who is ready or open to the planting of the gospel seed and it springing up and growing.
Indeed, it is not unusual, because we are human and flawed, that when some people hear and embrace the gospel — because they do not match up with what we think they should look like, act like or be like — we are surprised and “knoweth not how” they have accepted and embraced the gospel.
Yet the Savior knows whose heart is prepared and, more often than not, he works through us to introduce his eternal truths to others. When we do so, we will find that those fitted with that inner spark and whose souls resonate to the truth, will sense and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the parable states, “the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself.”
Our outreach and our witness are important but it is the Holy Ghost that will bear witness to a person’s soul and “bring forth fruit of herself.”
On his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my husband tracted into a cabal of hippies in the late 1960s who lived just outside Washington, D.C. They all came with the requisite long, stringy hair, tie-dye T-shirts, bell-bottom jeans, sandals and copious amounts of marijuana and psychedelic music. When they first opened their door, a sweet smoke wafted out the entryway. My husband simply shared the message of Jesus Christ’s restored gospel and bore his testimony. Quite a number commented that his message was, “far out, man.” Some even, surprisingly, showed up to the button-down, suit-and-tie ward populated by high-powered professionals, politicians and military men that very next Sunday. The “love children” were quite a sight to behold.
Many congregants were uncomfortable by their attendance. Nevertheless, my husband invited them back and a number of them returned. Over time, their appearance changed as testimonies grew and conviction was born, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”
This was followed by baptisms, and as the “the fruit (was) brought forth, immediately (members) put in their sickle, because the harvest had come.” People in the ward befriended and fellowshipped individuals in process of dramatically transforming their lives and in need of love and support.
I cannot say with any degree of certainty this is the intention or meaning of the parable of the seed growing by itself. Yet I do know the gospel touches individual’s hearts and minds and who those individuals might be we cannot know of ourselves. We can, however, be instruments in God’s hands by “casting seed into the ground” — sharing eternal truths that, within God’s timetable, might resonate with some as we testify of Christ’s divinity.
The parable also reminded me we sometimes misunderstand our commission from the Lord. Our task is not to baptize people — because that isn’t what the Lord has asked us to do. He asks us to be examples of his gospel, be friends and love others, minister and help them, and embrace the privilege of introducing others to the Savior of the world. When we do these things — and as we assist those baptized to move forward in the gospel — we have fulfilled God’s commission to us.5 comments on this story
As mortals “we see through a glass darkly” and, as the parable of the seed growing by itself reminds us, more often than not we “knoweth not how … the seed should spring and grow up.” We can know, however, with absolute certainty that God knows and thereby his “earth bringeth forth fruit of herself.” Those he has prepared, seekers after truth, will “hear his voice; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” We simply have to “putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”