In the New International Version (NIV), the biblical passage quotes in Mark 4:26-29 that “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” The story relates to a narrative of a farmer who plants a seed and has nothing to do about its growth until harvest time. The passage goes further to say that the soil by itself produces the grain through the development of the stalk, the head, then the full kernel. When the grain ripens, it is cut using a sickle as harvest time is due. This parable was given by Jesus during the teaching along the Galilean seaside to the multitude that had gathered to listen to his wise words.
The preceding section in the passage is a story of another man who scatters seeds in various points, such as the fertile soil, on the rocks, and under a thorny bush. Thus, the parable of a growing seed was a transition from the other one because Jesus wanted to relate the story in all possible ways for the audience to understand the kingdom of God. The parable shows that God’s kingdom will continue to grow until the end times and offers encouragement to the Christian faithful facing challenges since there would be transformation by the almighty God when they don’t anticipate timely. This paper provides an exegesis of the parable of a growing seed as depicted in Mark:26-29 (NIV) about the kingdom of God based on contemporary aspects of life in Christianity.
Historical Context of the Passage
Mark, the writer of the passage, was a missionary and evangelist who served as an assistant to Paul in AD 55 and AD 65. It is important to understand the historical context of when the passage was written. The missionary work was undertaken to enlighten people to press more on obeying God and following the teachings of Jesus, who had ascended to heaven. Thus, the timeframe in which Mark wrote this passage was characterized by extensive outreach ministry to bring together Christians in different parts of the world, such as Cyprus and Pamphylia. Thus, Mark was devoted to insisting on teaching the people about contemporary life issues that would affect or influence their desire to inherit the kingdom of God.
When the passage was written, Mark, who was a companion of Apostle Paul, and the two undertook missionary work and later assisted Apostle Peter in Rome. Mark was present during the days of Jesus Christ, and he was present when Jesus was arrested. In his gospel, mark puts in Mark 14: 51-52 (NIV), ‘A young man, wearing nothing but a lined garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind’ Therefore, it shows that while mark wrote about the parable that Jesus gave, he had keenly investigated the bit-to-bit sentiments of Jesus, being one of the time-to-time followers of Christ. In this case, Mark would relate the events by noting down from his primary sources more so by the inspiration of God that assisted his mind to be retentive and record the fine-represented aspects of Jesus’s parable of growing seed.
Cultural Context of the Passage
To understand more about the parable of the growing seed that is sown by a farmer. A reader will have to note about familiar and fundamentals of ancient Middle Eastern conviction. The context of seed was known to all peasant societies then, as ‘All goods are finite in quantity, that is, limited in number, and already distributed.’ Thus, it means there is the aspect of quantity and quality of doing events as characterized by Jewish culture then. To elaborate more on this, any Middle Easterner who realized the increase in goods was taken to be a thief because the culture then meant one peasant’s gain is the other’s loss. In Luke 15: 4-9, the book extends the culture by giving a scenario of a woman who rejoiced after she found a lost coin, hence calling others to celebrate the rediscovery of the coin. The aspect of showing the recovery of the coin is an imperative way to indicate that she had not collected the coin from someone else who had lost it. Thus, the system of administration of justice was centered and, marked by fairness and equality.
The parable of the growing seed shows that the people then had practiced the economic activities of farming as the narrative would not be understood unless there was such an existing tradition of farming. From the biblical commentaries, there was a day set to celebrate the fall harvest and the Jews called it Sukkot. Clearly, despite Jesus venturing into evangelism, the society had their cultures put into practice to ensure that life moved linearly. In chapter four in the Gospel of Mark, farming is seen as a key utility that people practiced and that is why Jesus used it and gave a notation to something that they were conversant of it. Thus, one of the cultural contexts of the passage is a revolution of knowledge in agriculture that has spread since then up to the current world.
The ancient Mediterranean world respected the importance of privacy. The puzzling remarks of Jesus teaching by use of parables means that people would explain the hidden meaning in private despite the utterance of critical statements in public. Thus, the light required to understand important issues during the ancient world when Jesus was on earth shows a unique culture and style of socializing through technical interactions and movements. The outsiders would rarely understand something damaging about the insiders and secrecy was important to convey some messages. The reason is that Jesus spoke to the multitude, which means the outsiders but came to explain the parable to his disciples, who would be termed, insiders.
The Literary Context of the Passage
The parable of growing seed is a literature that is in line with the Koine Greek document that describes the life, persecution, and Jesus Christ who is the central figure of Christianity. The passage is framed as a parable which is a short fictional story that has a moral lesson at the end. Thus, the literature is technical and may need one to open their eyes to understand what mark wrote about the growing seed, depicting from what Jesus had said in the teaching. The genre itself is a parable to give a moral narrative, which has been put in the bible in the book of Mark 4:26-29 (NIV). Thus, the setting of the passage comes after another parable of a Sower in the chapter as other lines have similar alienation to a farmer who plants a seed.
The parable of growing seeds stands out because of the message that Mark wanted to portray. Through a literary fiction that Jesus used, critical people would understand the setting of God’s kingdom through the use of language and aspects known to people. Therefore, the depiction of a rule by the creator would be one of the key issues that Mark wanted to drive through the teachings of Jesus Christ, hence causing a unique context from the passage. The parable is an exemplary way that Mark wanted to illustrate how the kingdom of God would be citing from what Jesus told the multitude through the teachings in the seaside. Mark was optimistic that the earlier church would take a different turn if they learn about God’s kingdom and that is why the passage comes in between the chapter following a similar narrative of the farmer who sowed seeds in scattered places.
The other notable element that makes the passage to be significant is the presupposition of the context of God’s word and purposes. By leaning from prophet Isaiah’s point of view, God had spoken to Isaiah the prophet about the effectiveness of the scripture to accomplish the intended purposes, such as the inheritance of God’s kingdom. Isaiah 55:9 (NIV) says ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ The passage from the Old Testament is depicted in the key passage that this paper dwells on because the comparison of the earth to heaven shows that there is the executive authority that God has that is the kingdom and Mark expresses the concerns of Jesus about the kingdom of God.
From the historical perspective, Mark wrote this passage while undertaking a short and action-packed account of the life and mission of Jesus Christ. The timeframe that Mark wrote was characterized by strengthening the early Christian church because the bible shows a collaborative effort between Mark, Barnabas, and Peter in transforming the issues that needed attention then. Coming from Jerusalem, he well knew that the audience and readers of the Gospel of Mark would understand the basic concepts such as farming, kingdom-centric society, and teacher-to-leaner perspective.
In regards to the biblical commentaries, the time Jesus was teaching using parables was marked by Judaism, which is a key aspect that was evident during the timeframe when the passage was written but before then, there was a transformation that needs to be at the minds of many. Judaism was based on ancient Israelite’s religion and it included many Canaanite features but with the addition of important elements from the Babylonia and Persia. At that time, Jews believed that there was only one God, a subject that made them be a unique group, and that made it possible for Jesus to get listeners. The audience had heard about God, only that they did not get a true revelation of how the kingdom of God would be in terms of contemporary lifestyle. Therefore, during the parable of the growing seed, the people then had a foundation of the scriptures as seen from the Old Testament incidents such as prophets of God.
Historically, during the setting of sermons from Jesus’s perspective, people had a quest to get the fulfillment of prophet Isaiah who had promised that a child will be born from the tribe of Judah, who would save many people from the tribulations of sin. Therefore, during the time was the passage was written, Mark had a full understanding of what had transpired for the efficacy of the evangelistic ministry of Jesus. At that time, people worshipped God by offering animal sacrifices in a temple that was in Jerusalem. The sanctuary had two main rooms, one which they used to worship from and the other was empty. They believe that Israelites were the chosen generation by God shows that the was important to follow the theme and that is why Mark decided to write about the passage, among many that depicted the exploration that would show the essence of understanding the kingdom of God.
Jesus introduced the parable by telling the multitude about the kingdom of God. Many other parables would start with other introductory statements rather than that kind. The reason can be linked with cultural context then as people understood how the kingdom is manifested by various elements. The parable gives a wide picture of aspects of the kingdom which means someone who reigns over in a given social setting. Therefore, how people were keen to relate the kingdom of God to the growing seed means that they have stratified into various social classes hence the stratification completion in a given community. During those times, there were various rulers such as King Herod, Caesar, and Pilate. The leaders exercised executive authority hence kingdom of God would be related to that since God is the overall ruler who controls all the issues the way he seeds grew without the intervention of a man. Thus, it is important to say that the culture then was characterized by hierarchical leadership where someone would be the overall ruler.
The passage as seen from the gospel of Mark is marked by contemporary issues that happen to people during normal living. For instance, the time Jesus was giving the parable was marked by the change institutionalization more so leaning on Judaism. The cultural perspective of Judaism was mostly marked by key events and celebrations such as Shabbat, which means the day of rest and weekly observance of the time God had created the creation. Additionally, the Jews then celebrated the Purim, which meant the day they were saved from the plot of destruction as noted in the Old Testament in the book of Esther. More notably, there was Passover that celebrated the exodus from Egypt a long time ago from the old testament’s narrative of the Israelites. Thus, when Jesus was teaching during his days, he knew people were inclined in retrogressive cultures and he wanted to save the entire nation by ensuring that people learned the right ways to do as per God’s will.
The aspect of evangelism and devotion to serving God was evident then as Jesus gave the parable at the seaside and the bible has it that there was a multitude of people who came and listened to him about the purpose of inheriting the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, salvation was the main catalyst that made people follow Jesus and leave their daily undertakings to accompany him and listen to his wise words of knowledge. During the passage, Jesus had twelve assistants who were the apostles to aid his campaign to save mankind from the world of sin. The twelve disciples had given their full time in preaching with Jesus and that shows that evangelism had taken roots since then. Jesus knew that his time on earth was almost over and he wanted to press about the exercise of the kingdom of heaven. When people learned about the kingdom, they would relate to the other kingdoms that were evident during the times of Jesus such as Herod and Caesar. Thus, the context shows a hefty political regime that was noted in the bible and the same would lead to the prosecution, crucifying, and death of Jesus.
Mark’s parable from the passage shows a man who is perhaps ignorant and slothful to some extent. After the plants a seed, he did not do anything to help along such as weeding and irritating it. However, when the seed yields, he collects the grain as a harvest from what he had sowed. From the passage, it is clear people then did not get concerned about acting responsibly but they expected to gain from an event they did not actively participate in the transformation. It means that people in the society were comprised of various characters such as ignorance and taking advantage of what they didn’t deserve. The passage would mean that the people then had to rely on God instead of themselves as that would mean an unimaginable success would be achieved from that.
Mark 4:26-29, which refers to the parable of growing seed is set between two other parables that have a similar notation of seeds. The preceding narrative is on the farmer who sowed his seed along with many places and the passage is used as a link hence make Christians understand more about how the kingdom of God will be. The passage helps the Christian faithful to have a reflection of what heaven would be like based on their day-to-day lifestyles. The passage has a complimenting effort on what it takes to have the understanding of the purpose of God relating to the various contemporary life issues such as cultivation. Therefore, the growing seed parable is technically written to serve as a transition narrative that Mark wanted the readers to understand on the essence of Jesus’s teaching about the kingdom of God.
The parable of the growing seed which is the key aspect in the passage is an outstanding excerpt that can be useful in life. Starting the passage with the segment that ‘this is what the kingdom of God is like…’ (Mark 4: 26, NIV), makes the passage to be notable to the audience. At first, the readers of the bible would be concerned to know why the statement is a beginning point. Mark wanted to insist on the exact message that Jesus taught by repeating what Jesus said about the inheritance of the kingdom of God. The fact that Mark decided to include the parable among the others means that he had a mission to accomplish and that is to show the people the importance of following the scriptures from Jesus’s perspective. Therefore, the Passage serves as a significant point of making Christians understand the kingdom of God from the basic matters that happen in daily lives such as farming and political issues.
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