The farmer doesn’t really know how, but if he sows seed in the ground, the dirt makes the seed sprout and grow. Then the farmer takes advantage of that process and harvests the crop. That somewhat explains the earlier verses in Mark chapter 4.
Picture the planting season: The farmer takes a sack of seeds down to the field. Some seeds fall out along the roadway, not the designated place at all – hard, packed down dirt. Still, those seeds sprout!
Further along, the edges of the field are lined with stones, probably gathered out of the field to prepare it for planting. Some stray seeds fall into the stones, and they too sprout.
A bit further along, the farmer crosses the perimeter of the field where the thorns and weeds still exist. Here too, some seeds drop out and here too, they sprout.
Finally he gets to the plowed land. He sows the seeds where they are supposed to be, in the field where the ground has been cultivated. The stones, briers and weeds have been carefully removed so there’s nothing to prevent the seeds from getting plenty of nutrients and water.
Eventually the farmer harvests a good crop, even discounting the seeds that sprouted in all the wrong spots.
Why? Because it’s the nature of seeds to grow. No farmer can create seeds, or dirt – but the smart farmer knows how they work and he takes advantage of them.
Jesus relates the seed to his word. If we’re as smart as farmers we’ll take advantage of this principle.
(Originally posted February 17, 2008.)