Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 3: "First the Blade, Then the Ear"
Based on Mark 4:26-29
The parable of the sower excited much questioning.
Some of the hearers gathered from it that Christ was
not to establish an earthly kingdom, and many were curious
and perplexed. Seeing their perplexity, Christ used other
illustrations, still seeking to turn their thoughts from the
hope of a worldly kingdom to the work of God's grace in
|The Sower and the Seed.—Davis Collection.|
"And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man
should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and
rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow
up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth
fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the
full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth,
immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest
The husbandman who "putteth in the sickle, because
the harvest is come," can be no other than Christ. It is [p. 63] He who at the last great day will reap the harvest of the
earth. But the sower of the seed represents those who
labor in Christ's stead. The seed is said to "spring and
grow up, he knoweth not how," and this is not true of
the Son of God. Christ does not sleep over His charge,
but watches it day and night. He is not ignorant of how
the seed grows.
The parable of the seed reveals that God is at work in
nature. The seed has in itself a germinating principle, a
principle that God Himself has implanted; yet if left to itself
the seed would have no power to spring up. Man has his
part to act in promoting the growth of the grain. He must
prepare and enrich the soil and cast in the seed. He
must till the fields. But there is a point beyond which he
can accomplish nothing. No strength or wisdom of man
can bring forth from the seed the living plant. Let man
put forth his efforts to the utmost limit, he must still depend
upon One who has connected the sowing and the reaping
by wonderful links of His own omnipotent power.
There is life in the seed, there is power in the soil; but
unless an infinite power is exercised day and night, the
seed will yield no returns. The showers of rain must be
sent to give moisture to the thirsty fields, the sun must
impart heat, electricity must be conveyed to the buried
seed. The life which the Creator has implanted, He alone
can call forth. Every seed grows, every plant develops, by
the power of God.
"As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden
causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so
the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring
forth." Isa. 61:11. As in the natural, so in the spiritual
sowing; the teacher of truth must seek to prepare the soil of
the heart; he must sow the seed; but the power that alone
can produce life is from God. There is a point beyond [p. 64] which human effort is in vain. While we are to preach the
word, we can not impart the power that will quicken the
soul, and cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. In
the preaching of the word there must be the working of an
agency beyond any human power. Only through the divine
Spirit will the word be living and powerful to renew the
soul unto eternal life. This is what Christ tried to impress
upon His disciples. He taught that it was nothing
they possessed in themselves which would give success
to their labors, but that it is the miracle-working power of
God which gives efficiency to His own word.
The work of the sower is a work of faith. The mystery
of the germination and growth of the seed he cannot
understand. But he has confidence in the agencies by
which God causes vegetation to flourish. In casting his
seed into the ground, he is apparently throwing away the
precious grain that might furnish bread for his family. But [p. 65] he is only giving up a present good for a larger return.
He casts the seed away, expecting to gather it manyfold
in an abundant harvest. So Christ's servants are to labor,
expecting a harvest from the seed they sow.
The good seed may for a time lie unnoticed in a cold,
selfish, worldly heart, giving no evidence that it has taken
root; but afterward, as the Spirit of God breathes on the
soul, the hidden seed springs up, and at last bears fruit to
the glory of God. In our lifework we know not which
shall prosper, this or that. This is not a question for us
to settle. We are to do our work, and leave the results
with God. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the
evening withhold not thine hand." Eccl. 11:6. God's
great covenant declares that "while the earth remaineth,
seed-time and harvest . . . shall not cease." Gen. 8:22. In
the confidence of this promise the husbandman tills and sows.
Not less confidently are we in the spiritual sowing to labor,
trusting His assurance, "So shall My word be that goeth
forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall
prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isa. 55:11. "He
that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall
doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves
with him." Ps. 126:6.
The germination of the seed represents the beginning of
spiritual life, and the development of the plant is a beautiful
figure of Christian growth. As in nature, so in grace; there
can be no life without growth. The plant must either grow
or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but
continuous, so is the development of the Christian life. At
every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if
God's purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual
advancement. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. As
our opportunities multiply, our experience will enlarge, and [p. 66] our knowledge increase. We shall become strong to bear
responsibility, and our maturity will be in proportion to our
The plant grows by receiving that which God has
provided to sustain its life. It sends down its roots into the
earth. It drinks in the sunshine, the dew, and the rain.
It receives the life-giving properties from the air. So the [p. 67] Christian is to grow by co-operating with the divine agencies.
Feeling our helplessness, we are to improve all the
opportunities granted us to gain a fuller experience. As the
plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take deep root in
Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and
the rain, we are to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.
The work is to be done "not by might, nor by power, but
by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zech. 4:6. If we
keep our minds stayed upon Christ, He will come unto us
"as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."
Hosea 6:3. As the Sun of Righteousness, He will arise
upon us "with healing in His wings." Mal. 4:2. We shall
"grow as the lily." We shall "revive as the corn, and grow
as the vine." Hosea 14:5, 7. By constantly relying
upon Christ as our personal Saviour, we shall grow up
into Him in all things who is our head.
The wheat develops "first the blade, then the ear, after
that the full corn in the ear." The object of the husbandman
in the sowing of the seed and the culture of the
growing plant is the production of grain. He desires bread
for the hungry, and seed for future harvests. So the divine
Husbandman looks for a harvest as the reward of His labor
and sacrifice. Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in
the hearts of men; and He does this through those who
believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit
bearing—the reproduction of Christ's character in the
believer, that it may be reproduced in others.
The plant does not germinate, grow, or bring forth fruit
for itself, but to "give seed to the sower, and bread to the
eater." Isa. 55:10. So no man is to live unto himself.
The Christian is in the world as a representative of Christ,
for the salvation of other souls.
There can be no growth or fruitfulness in the life that is
centered in self. If you have accepted Christ as a personal [p. 68] Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others.
Talk of the love of Christ, tell of His goodness. Do every
duty that presents itself. Carry the burden of souls upon
your heart, and by every means in your power seek to save
the lost. As you receive the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit
of unselfish love and labor for others—you will grow and
bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in
your character. Your faith will increase, your convictions
deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more you
will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble,
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"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, [p. 69] gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Gal.
5:22, 23. This fruit can never perish, but will produce
after its kind a harvest unto eternal life.
"When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth
in the sickle, because the harvest is come." Christ is waiting
with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in
His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly
reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them
as His own.
It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look
for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
(2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name
bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world
would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the
last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come
to gather the precious grain.
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