Parable of the Growing Seed – Mark 4:26-29
The bearing of fruit is not dependent on human sowers, but on God Himself through the Holy Spirit.
Parable of the Weeds – Matthew 13:24-30
Satan will sow bad seed amongst the good seed, but it is not up to us to separate the good seed from the bad; Jesus will take care of that at His second coming.
Parable of the Mustard Seed – Matthew 13:31-32
From a tiny beginning, the enormous church of Jesus Christ has grown.
It was a beautiful spring day in the quiet foothill community where Josh and Emily lived and attended a Christian college. They were traveling in Josh’s ten-year-old Toyota Corolla through an older residential section of town, following a pick-up truck filled with gardening tools. When the truck parked at the curb in front of a small house with overgrown weeds in the front yard, Josh pulled up behind it and parked. Another college age couple, Ryan and Ashley, stepped out of the pickup truck and joined Josh and Emily at the curb. Together they began unloading rakes, hoes, a garden hose, and a gas-powered lawn mower. The sun was beginning to warm the air and it was apparent the group was ready to get to work.
Ryan was the expert in the group. He was working his way through college mowing lawns and caring for the landscapes of the affluent people who lived closer to the foothills. On this day, he was a volunteer like the others, lending his skill along with his tools to the effort. Ashley was Ryan’s girlfriend who often helped him in his lawn maintenance business. She was more than capable as a first class assistant. Josh and Emily were counting on Ryan and Ashley to point the way.
While Ryan was pouring fuel into the mower, Ashley and Josh continued to unload some extra trash cans and a few other odds and ends. Emily strolled up the concrete walkway toward the front door of the home and was greeted by Martha, the elderly home-owner, and her eight year old grandson Andrew. Martha walked with a slight limp but was otherwise healthy looking, her gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, and her feet tucked into a nice pair of sneakers.
“I’m so thankful for your help!” Martha announced as she approached Emily.
“We’re thrilled to be here.” Emily said. “Helping is what we’re all about.”
Josh stepped up and joined the conversation as Martha presented her grandson who looked eager to join the crew.
“This is my grandson, Andrew.” Martha said. “He’s spending the day with me and he was hoping he could help with the yardwork too.”
“Awesome!” Josh replied, extending his hand to Andrew for a hearty shake. “We can always use a couple of extra hands.”
Martha’s yard had been neglected for some time and the weeds were two feet tall in some places. Both the front and back lawn were brown from a lack of water. All the bushes, hedges, and trees needed trimming. This was not going to be an easy job.
Taking charge, Ryan put Josh, Emily, and Andrew to work pulling weeds from the flowerbeds that surrounded the back of the house, while he and Ashley worked on the front lawn. Working on their hands and knees with hand tools, Josh and Emily removed the dense overgrowth and left it in piles for Andrew to pick up and load in a trash can.
“You’re a hard worker, Andrew,” Emily said as he picked up another pile of weeds. “I’m really glad you offered to help.”
Andrew smiled at Emily’s encouragement and stopped to reflect on the work. “My grandma said God made the flowers and the trees.”
“Yes, he did.” Emily replied.
Andrew’s expression was a bit confused as he pondered the work at hand. “Why did God make the weeds if we just pull them out and throw them away?” he asked.
Josh and Emily looked at each other both uncertain how to answer Andrew’s question. Emily wanted to be precise with her answer but had no precise information to offer. Josh dug deep and came up with what he considered to be a logically spiritual response.
“That’s a good question,” Josh said. “I’m not sure, but I think the weeds are here to help us focus on the good plants. The weeds remind us we need to take care of the beautiful things God has created.”
Andrew immediately accepted Josh’s answer, but he had another question. “Will there be weeds in heaven? he asked.
Emily felt she had the precise answer to this inquiry and jumped in with a quick answer. “No,” she said. “The Bible tells us Jesus will get rid of the weeds.”
Andrew was starting to feel the weight of the work in front of them as he picked up another load of weeds to carry to the trash can. “I wish Jesus was her today!” he proclaimed.
“So do I, Andrew,” Josh responded, as he stood up and began helping Andrew drag the trash can to the next flowerbed in need. Andrew continued to talk with Josh while Emily finished her work.
“Do you think I should ask my grandma for some money for helping with the yard work?” Andrew asked Josh.
“Are you doing this work for your grandma or for yourself?” Josh asked.
Andrew’s answer was instantaneous. “For grandma!” he said.
“That’s fantastic,” Josh encouraged. “God wants us to do things for others. If you’re doing this for your grandma, you shouldn’t want any money for yourself.”
Andrew gave Josh’s answer some thought before continuing. “Are you getting paid to do this?” he asked Josh.
“No, I just like helping your grandma.”
“Me too!” Andrew announced.
Several hours later, the weeds were all gone and the lawn was neatly manicured. Ryan had prepared the front and the back lawn for over-seeding. Supervised by Emily, Andrew was walking with a handheld seed spreader turning the crank and watching the seeds fly out across the lawn.
“In church, my teacher said that teaching people about God is like spreading seeds.” Andrew told Emily.
“Right,” Emily acknowledged. “Well-planted seeds grow into believers who then spread more seeds.”
Josh stepped up to refill Andrew’s seed container. Pouring the seed from a large bag, he topped off the container.
“How many believers are there in the world?” Andrew asked.
Josh waited for Emily to answer but realized she wasn’t sure so he jumped in to pick up the slack. “I got this one,” Josh said. “About one fourth of the people in the world are believers in Jesus.”
Andrew was surprised by Josh’s answer and stopped turning the seed crank to focus on the conversation. “That means three fourths don’t believe.” Andrew exclaimed.
“That’s right,” Josh said.
“We need to spread more seed.” Andrew said with an abundance of enthusiasm.
“Yes we do,” Josh said. “So keep walking, and keep cranking.”
Andrew went right back to work with Emily by his side while Josh returned to help Ryan and Ashley load the tools back into the truck.
At the end of the day, Josh and Emily walked back to the front porch with Andrew to say goodbye to Martha, while Ryan and Ashley pulled away in their truck. Martha greeted Andrew with a big smile and a warm hug.
“Andrew was an enormous help!” Emily told Martha.
“He’s always been a good helper.” Martha said proudly.
Exhausted and ready to get some rest, Josh took a step back signaling he was on his way home. “We’ll see you guys at church on Sunday.”
Before Josh could take another step, Andrew offered a closing thought. “I think I know why we go to church now.” He announced.
“Why’s that, Andrew?” Emily responded.
“So the seeds can grow.”
Josh raised his hand up in the air for a high five from Andrew. He complied.
On that triumphant note, Josh and Emily made their way back to the Toyota Corolla while Martha admired the work that had been done on her lawn and the love of her grandson, Andrew.