It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.
Mary Ann loves to garden, as you can tell from the great variety of things in her garden. She grows green beans, pineapples, peaches, blueberries, lettuce, Swiss chard, avocados, pomegranates, fennel, blackberries, muscadines, cucumbers, watermelons, and butternut squash. But without a doubt, her favorite thing to grow are tomatoes.
No matter the size, no matter the shapes, no matter the color, tomatoes are at the absolute top of her list. Some tomatoes are smaller than the fingernail on my pinky finger. Some are deep purple. Some have different colors throughout.
Sometimes she buys small tomato seedling plants. But for greater variety, she buys seeds. She does research from catalogues and the internet, finding new and interesting kinds of tomatoes that we order from all around the country.
And then the real work begins. These tiny seeds are planted, labeled, nurtured, and eventually transplanted into the fertile soil of the garden. Then they just take off, growing at an astonishing rate. As they reach higher and higher, yellow blooms appear. As the tomato vine starts to slow down its growth, the tomatoes themselves really start to increase in numbers and size.
These tomatoes are like Jesus’ parable about mustard seeds. Both start out small in the beginning. But they don’t stay that way. They grow down, up, and out. Eventually they produce a harvest for all to enjoy.
When I first look at the seeds we buy, I sometimes say to myself, “What? Is this all there is for what we paid? I just don’t see how it’s going to be worth all the time, energy, and money.” In the weeks after Mary Ann takes the seeds, I’m just blown away at how they change, how they grow. And eventually, they produce more fruit that I ever imagined.
But then again, seeds weren’t meant to stay the same. They weren’t designed to stay small, dry, lifeless, stored away for the future. Seeds were made to be sown, thrown into dirt where they would be transformed. From that small, insignificant seed comes growth. They grow, and grow, and grow. And they don’t stop changing until they have produced a harvest.
Jesus is using these parables about seeds to represent God’s word. God’s word, like seeds was not created to keep in a dark dry place. It wasn’t meant to be kept in an airless, lifeless, envelope.
Seeds were meant to be free, but freedom isn’t just anywhere. Seeds on concrete aren’t free. Seeds in water aren’t free. Seeds in your pockets aren’t free.
Real, true freedom for seeds comes in the location and expense of soil. Seeds were designed for soil, and soil was made for seeds. They need each other to achieve their true, ultimate purpose.
Yes, God’s word is eternal, and like God, doesn’t need anyone or anything to continue. But the seed of God’s word only grows and bears fruit in the fertile soil of a life. God is glorified when his word comes to rest in a life. It sends down roots and sends up shoots all at the same time. It reached down for moisture, nutrients, and a solid foundation. It reaches up for light, warmth, and energy. And seed only reach their ultimate purpose in a fruitful harvest.
God wants to plant a mustard seed in you. He wants it to move past the surface, sending down roots that cling to the soil of your soul. He wants the seed to grow in you, sending up new growth towards himself, receiving light, energy, and warmth from him and him alone.
And then, he wants a harvest from you. And not just a little harvest. He doesn’t want to see the one seed in you create just another seed, or even a few seeds. No, he wants his seed in you to explode into a whole bag-full of seeds. He wants to see lots and lots of seeds coming from his seed in you.
A big harvest doesn’t require you starting a church or founding an organization. A big harvest doesn’t mean getting in front of large crowds or standing on street corners. Heck, a big harvest can even come if you only have five friends in your email list, or even fewer social media contacts.
The harvest comes as God brings people and opportunities into your life and you faithfully serve and grow through each one. The more you respond, grow, and bear fruit, the more opportunities will be given to you.
It’s not a contest. It’s not race. There’s not even an app for it. But the harvest is what it’s all about.
And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3:18 ESV
Boy, do we ever need this kind of harvest!
 Mark 4:14