In the classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, a poor boy named Jack acquires magic beans in exchange for his family’s cow. His mother, upset by the trade, throws down the bean in anger. But that night, a great beanstalk grows, enabling Jack to climb it where he finds and steals golden coins, enough to provide for his family’s needs.
Those small beans, that seemed ordinary at first glance, held amazing potential. In today’s reading, seeds are used to illustrate the kingdom of God. For now, the kingdom of God is hidden from our full sight and understanding. We are able to see glimpses of it in the works of believers, but the final and full expression is invisible to us.
In the second half of chapter 4, Mark records Jesus’ parables focused on the kingdom of God. The kingdom is compared to an ordinary seed, planted in the ground (v. 26). In a mysterious transformation, that seed sprouts and grows “all by itself” (v. 28). Jesus also compared the kingdom to a mustard seed, which when planted, became the “largest of all garden plants” (v. 32). Scripture tells us that while the parables were confusing to most of those who listened, Jesus privately explained their meaning to His disciples.
If the disciples had any concern over the nature of the kingdom, their fears quickly were laid to rest. Jesus, asleep in their boat, suddenly and dramatically revealed Himself as the awesome God of power and might (vv. 39–41). In that moment when Jesus calmed the storm, they were shown what the kingdom held for them. God’s promises of righteousness, peace, and joy are certain (see Rom. 14:17). One day we’ll experience God’s kingdom in its fullness, and it will far outstrip the seed of its currently unseen presence.
When Scripture says, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” about the things God has prepared for those who love Him, it promises us that we will not be disappointed by our future hope in any way! Today we understand the future in part; only at the return of Christ will we understand completely.