Father Dave's Old School Boxing Academy

Jesus’ most Boring Parable

“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”. (Mark 4:26-29)

Hi Fighter,

I’ve included the full text of the parable of Mark 4:26 to 29 above. I refer to it as “the parable of Mark 4:26 to 29” because it doesn’t have any other popular name that it is known by, such as:

  • “The parable of the sower”
  • “The parable of the lost sheep”
  • “The parable of the prodigal son”

This is not a popular parable, and it only turns up in the Gospel of Mark.

Mark is generally thought to have been the first of the four gospels published, and much of Mark’s Gospel has been incorporated into the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. There were no laws against plagiarism in those days. Even so, it seems that neither Matthew nor Luke wanted to include the parable of Mark 4:26 to 29 in their Gospels. I think we know why. It’s boring!

Nothing interesting happens in this parable. The closest parallel we have to this story in the Gospel of Matthew is the better-known “Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds” (Matthew 13:24-43). That starts in the same way, with a farmer sowing seed in his field, but then an enemy sneaks into the field during the night and sows weeds in amongst the wheat! Matthew’s story introduces an element of intrigue. Who is it who is sabotaging the wheat crop? What are they hoping to achieve? What will the farmer do? Mark’s parable, by contrast, looks like it is about to get interesting but then … nothing happens.

  • The seed falls into the ground
  • The crop grows while the farmer works on other things and sleeps.
  • When the grain is ripe, the farmer harvests it
  • The end.

Of course, I’m skipping over the heart of the story, which is in verses 27 and 28: “ [the farmer] would sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head”

Yes, that’s how crops grow. Even though we are not farmers, we know that. There’s nothing mysterious about that, or is there? The point Jesus is making is an essential one. Knowing how something works doesn’t make it less mysterious. You throw a little seed into the ground and somehow it comes back at you as a tree, or as a plant that you can eat, and at other times it doesn’t come back at all. It’s bizarre!

Of course, with advances in science, we’ve no doubt learnt a lot about how particular seeds develop, yet the fact that these tiny things consistently follow the same pattern and develop into enormous plants is still amazing and, importantly, it’s not something we can ever truly control. Farmers don’t really grow wheat. They just watch it grow.

I did eight years of full-time study at university and seminary before the church would ordain me. The assumption is that you need to be highly skilled if you’re going to tend God’s vineyard. The Kingdom of God is complicated, and if we are going to help make it grow, we’ll obviously need to be well prepared and highly qualified.

Jesus’ story – the parable of Mark 4:26 to 29 – pushes us in the opposite direction. The Kingdom of God grows of its own accord. We do our best, but we can’t control its growth. We can expend all our energy digging holes, planting seeds, and spreading fertilizer, and still find ourselves staring at the ground, wondering why nothing is happening. When the time for harvest comes, we’ll know about it but, until that time comes, what is going on is a mystery!

I think of all the energy I pour into Binacrombi – trying to make it work. I think of my efforts to keep my boxing team going, and the sweat and prayer a good number of us put into our online community, celebrating the Sunday Eucharist each week. I think of other members of our team like Dr Andrew Madry, back in Canberra again this week, fighting the good fight over the excess deaths in Australia. I think of our sister, Professor Gigi Foster, and the energy she pours in to building Australians for Science and Freedom. I think of Joy’s work in her parish, of Diane’s passionate activism for Palestine, of Father Mark’s long history of engagement. I think about how all of us are doing our best to build God’s kingdom, and sometimes we do see great things happen. Most of the time though we just seem to be staring at the dirt!

The punchline of Jesus parable of Mark 4:26 to 29 is that the harvest does come, and that there will be no mistaking it when it gets here. In the meantime, I think we need to follow the example of Mother Theresa who, when asked how she judged her success, said, “God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.”

We do the work. We plant the seeds. We water. We tend. We do whatever we need to do, and we wait. “But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:29)

Our Sunday Eucharist

We had another great Sunday Eucharist last weekend. Rob Gilland and Reverend John Jegasothy joined me on the panel, and we must congratulate our dear brother, John, who has just celebrated 50 years of ordained ministry. Well done, brother! 😊

I’ve posted below a couple of the shorts I extracted from last Sunday’s discussion, most of which related to our Gospel reading and focus on the dysfunctional nature of Jesus’ family, The first of these shorts turned out to be rather controversial though and I’m not exactly sure why.

When I post these shorts on TikTok, they generally get around 400 views in the first hour or so, and the response is generally very positive. In this case though the response was more hostile and included a “F*** YOU” in the comments! The subject under discussion was the complimentary nature of mothers and fathers in their role as parents. I didn’t think that was controversial. Please let me know what I missed.

This coming Sunday I’m looking forward to having Karyn Hemming and Andrew Logan back with me on the panel. Unfortunately, Father Ola hasn’t been able to do a pre-recorded video for us this month, so I’ll be looking for extra input from our online community. Do join us please from midday this Sunday at TheSundayEucharist.com or on Facebook , YouTubeTwitterLinkedIn or Streamyard.

I do look forward to sharing this Eucharist with you. 😊

Let me work your corner

If you’d like to see my work continue, please click here to make a one-off donation, If you can afford a monthly contribution, sign up at Patreon.com and choose either:

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Every dollar helps keep the wheels turning – the websites, the newsletters, the broadcasts, the boxing club and the bush camp. Even so, this is a two-way process. Sign up at Patreon.comthen fill out the Physical and Spiritual Fitness Assessment form and get it back to me. Then we can meet and develop your growth strategy.

What’s On? 

Prison ministry team

I thought of another good quote that echoes the wisdom of today’s parable, and it’s one from Martin Luther: “While I drink my little glass of Wittenberg beer, the gospel runs its course and overthrows empires.”

And so, we keep plodding along– working and sleeping (and drinking the odd glass of ale) – and the work of the Kingdom continues. I saw a small shoot spring through the dirt today at a meeting with my mate, Fadi, and some of his friends involved in prison ministry (captured in the picture above). It was wonderful to be in a room full of people who were so passionate about supporting our sisters and brothers at the lowest rung of our communal ladder. Hopefully, Binacrombi will have a role to play in this evolving ministry. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Meanwhile, I am keen to build up our own community as a nurturing and supportive environment. One option that I think we haven’t yet fully explored yet is the Patreon   portal. It only clicked with me recently that you can sign up there are a free member and that gives you access to a variety of things, including a chat room that, at time of writing, we have never used. I wonder if that would be a good space for us to share our dreams and visions, and support one another as we wait for the harvest to ripen. Please consider popping over to Patreon.com and signing up as a free member if you can’t afford a subscription. Then click on the ‘community’ link to start a chat.

In terms of publications, you’ll find a couple of new articles on PrayersforSyria.com this week. IsraelandPalestine.org has also been updated, Though I see so few signs of hope in that part of the world at the moment, we must be like the farmer in today’s parable and wait patiently, confident that the harvest will come.

The other publication I put together this week was a video short from my 2013 interview with George Galloway. If you don’t know George, he’s is a British politician, broadcaster, and writer, best known for his uncompromising advocacy for Palestine.

When I first met George in 2013, I asked him what motivated and sustained him in his work. His answer surprised me. It’s recorded below. More surprising was his re-election to Parliament this year! May God strengthen him for the days ahead.

I’ll hope to see you Sunday for our Eucharist, or perhaps in the Patreon chat room.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,


P.S. Another way to support the work is to pick up an item from our Redbubble Shop, featuring the artwork of my wonderful daughter, Imogen. Click the banner below.Fighting Fathers Ministries Redbubble Shop

P.P.S., I don’t think I’ve yet shared all of the other shorts I’ve put together recently. Below are two of my favourites – the first is an extract from my TED Talk of 2019, and features video from our last Boxers for Peace mission to Syria. The second features some more recent boxing stars, including my friends, Bernie and Gigi.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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