and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will
Last month I suggested that The Parables of the Sower and the Weeds require a third complimentary parable to complete the teaching of these two. This is it!
Know first that the above title is of my own selection. Others have called this The Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly, or some such misnomer. There is nothing secret here, only a process that is specified as unknown (he knows not how). So, if you think of it as a secret, you are off on the wrong interpretive foot at the outset. Of a surety, many brilliant minds have started -- and ended -- on the wrong foot with this one!
Ony Mark has preserved it, and at first reading one is inclined to ask why he bothered. What can this tell us that we need to know? So we often read and wonder, briefly, then go on to other things that are more readily fathomed. But here, read it for yourself:
 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.
 The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.
Where is the secret? It only relates the sequences in a process that every farmer, then and now, sees working our annually throughout his life. Grains such as wheat and barley, that were grown in First Century Palestine, are broadcast crops rather than row crops. The farmer sows the seeds by scattering them in the field, perhaps drags something over the field to cover the seeds with soil and then does nothing more for it or to it until the grain is ripe for harvest. How can this describe the mystery of the kingdom of God?
Row crops are different. Having been reared on a West Tennessee small cotton farm prior to the use of pesticides and tractors, I can affirm this firsthand. The crop required repeated cultivation to keep the "middles" free of weeds and grass. Then it required repeated hoeing, first to "chop" out the unwanted young plants, thinning them to the proper spacing and later to hoe out the grass and weeds in the row that the horse or mule drawn cultivators did not reach. With this came the blistered hands. Then the blisters burst, exposing an inflamed layer of dermis underneath. Very sore -- yet the work went on. Before Summer was over those hands would be tough as leather, with thick "corns" protecting the palms and interior of the fingers. Then came that wonderful event -- one last plowing and the crop was "laid by." Only a brief period of inattention followed until it was time to harvest -- to pick that cotton (we could go fishing!). But during the harvest those hands took another beating from the pointed burrs that stuck out, protecting the locks of cotton -- this in spite of the hand sewn cloth "stalls" that we tied over the fingers for protection. The result was, again, very sore hands and fingers, due to shredded skin around the nails, and sore backs from dragging that sack as we picked. The lazy farmer who left his cotton, corn, or other row crop unattended lost it.
We also grew wheat and other grains that we sowed broadcast, just as in First Century Israel. They are much easier to produce, requiring little or no attention from sowing to reaping, and the farmer could only hope that the field would remain relatively free of weeds. In any case, as in the Parable of the Weeds, both grew together until the harvest. There was nothing one could do. To go into the field and pull up or cut down the weeds would require the trampling of the wheat, as well as uprooting what was near the weed. So, as I said, I understand what is going on in that field, as does everyone who has farmed crops such as wheat, having broadcast the seed by hand.
I can see him now -- that honorable man, Charles Penn Jones, a seed pail hooked by the bail over his left arm, his right arm swinging methodically out from side to side, casting the seed; then into the pail for another handful and another swing as he strode with measured steps across the field. There was nothing more to do in that field until harvest.
The above is not an extraneous foray into the halcyon days of my youth. I mean it to provide insight into what must be the lesson of this parable. But before we get to that, let us see what some others have done with it.
There is one aspect of this parable that exemplifies how translators, brilliant linguists and dedicated scholars that they are, nevertheless produce botched English renditions of the NT Greek. Let us again look at the parable as it appears in the Revised Standard Version:
There are two phrases of interest here. They are these, from v. 26 and v. 28:
Mark.4 And he said, The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground,
 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.
 The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.
- - - scatter seed upon the ground, . . ..
- - - The earth produces of itself . . ..
Do we see a noun common to the two?
There are none. But the Greek has a single word, ge that appears as ground in the first and as earth in the second. A single Greek word was sufficient, in both phrases, for Jesus who surely knew and understood Greek. Greek had other words to designate soil, fields, and ground, just as does the English. He would have chosen one of them had they suited his purpose. Furthermore, the parable indicates that he intended the same thing in each case, for it is that upon which the seed is cast that then produces the grain. There is therefore no justification for rendering the same word ground in one case and earth in the other. Thus they produce what is nothing more than a blatant attempt to introduce a faulty interpretation. The result only veils the Truth.
The RSV is typical. I have reviewed a total of sixteen additional English translations with findings as indicated in TABLE I, utilizing data from Bible Gateway.
A COMPARISON OF TRANSLATIONS OF THE GREEK WORD GE
IN MODERN ENGLISH VERSIONS OF MARK 4:26 AND 4:28
The New International Version
The New American Standard Bible
The Amplified Bible
The New Living Translation
The King James Version
The English Standard Version
The Contemporary English Version
The New King James Version
The 21st Century King James Version
The American Standard Version
The Worldwide English Version
Young's Literal Translation
The Darby Translation
The Wycliffe New Testament Translation
The New International Version - UK
Only six of sixteen translations fail to mistranslate by selecting different words (the ones in red) and two of these select the incorrect word for their uniform rendition. No. 2 selects soil while No. 12 selects ground. This is also incorrect and misleading to readers, as we will learn below.
Why do you suppose no one calls it dirt?
Commentaries are provided for the guidance of ministers and laymen alike, and are usually written by respected scholars and/or doctors of the Church.. Prior to our own careful examination of this parable, to discern its lessons, it is of interest to view the interpretations of some of these. I have selected only five for brevity's sake, to demonstrate how the scholars go oft astray, as do the translators.
A Catholic View:
Only Mark records the parable of the seed's growth. Sower and harvester are the same. The emphasis is on the power of the seed to grow of itself without human intervention (Mark 4:27). Mysteriously it produces blade and ear and full grain (Mark 4:28). Thus the kingdom of God initiated by Jesus in proclaiming the word develops quietly yet powerfully until it is fully established by him at the final judgment (Mark 4:29); cf Rev 14:15.An Orthodox View:
According to Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the man who cast the seed into the earth, is not God, as in the preceding two parables, but is each man who plants good seed (Christian teaching and piety) in his heart and public life. According to Blessed Theophilact of Bulgaria, the man of the parable is God Himself, Who became a man for the sake of our salvation, like us in everything but sin. Both interpretations are acceptable and edifying.
A Presbyterian View:
A Protestant Theologians View
In the second parable, there is no frenetic farmer careening through the field, slinging seed right and left. Instead this farmer calmly and methodically plants - scatters the seed and then promptly goes to bed. In contrast to the parable of the ceaselessly active sower which depicts what the church has to do, the parable of the growing seed is a testament to what the church does not have to do. This parable uses the Greek word automotos in verse 28, the root from which we derive the word automatic. It’s Jesus’ and Mark’s way of saying that while scattering the seed is the church’s job, the actual growth is not. The growth is "of itself," the text says, and thus, the church’s job, according to the second parable, is simply to let go and trust the grace of God to provide the growth.
Here is the central truth of the parable. Seedtime and harvest both are the work of God. Both are essentially supernatural. The earth bears fruit of itself. The seed has resident within it powers which man does not place there and which utterly transcend anything he can do. Man can sow the seed, but the kingdom itself is God's deed.A Baptist View:
The Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly" (4:26-29) teaches that the kingdom of God was undetected in its growth until it would burst onto the scene in a major way.You may wish to return to these interpretations for comparison with the one expressed below. Already they are of interest in the great variety of views expressed, by the experts, for a single, simple parable.
This is a genuine parable, in which a sequence of metaphors unite to teach a single lesson. There is therefore a parallel relationship between the various metaphors that must be recognized before the lesson can be discerned. As always, Jesus utilizes familiar things and processes in nature to illustrate and explain processes and things in. Let us illustrate this relationship by recourse to the parallel columns labeled THE FARM (yellow) and THE KINGDOM (blue) in TABLE II.
THE PARABLE OF THE UNATTENDED CROP - MARK 4:26-29
a man, v. 26 farmer
son of man (Jesus) Mat. 13:37
scatter, v. 26 broadcasting
seed, v. 26 grain seed
word of God
earth, v. 26 ground
earth, not heaven
nite and day, v. 27 sleep and rise
sprout and grow, v. 27 germinating
start of process
knows not how, v. 27 unknown
earth, v. 28 ground
earth, not heaven
produces of itself, v. 28 by itself
blade, ear, grain, v. 28 maturing
progression Mat. 13:38
grain ripe v. 29 mature
end of process
close of the age 12.
sickle v. 29 sickle
harvest v. 29 reaping
The Parable of the Sower placed the focus on the soil, which represented the hearts of all humans who hear the Word as spread in the earth beginning with its inception by Jesus. But this parable ignores soil distinctions and so we know that the soil itself plays no part in its lesson. Similarly, the Parable of the Weeds focussed on the seed that is of two kinds, the True Word as scattered by Jesus and his disciples and the lies spread by the enemy. This one ignores seed distinctions, considering only the good seed, and so we can conclude that the seed itself -- that is, its character and details of its operation in the world, has no part in the lesson of the parable.
Further, the sower of this good seed, (Matt. 13:37) who is identified as the Son of Man in the Parable of the Weeds, remains the same when we begin to interpret this parable, thus considerations as to the sower as distinct from others has no relevance to the interpretation other than this recognitionof his identity. The field was identified as the world (humans on planet earth) in the Parable of the Weeds, and there is no justification for a different symbolism here. Therefore, apart from recognizing this identification, there is nothing to be gained by seeking to draw meaning from a study of the field.
The harvest is the close of the age and the reapers are angels. Again, we learn this from the Parable of the Weeds; therefore we need not seek a lesson from these other than to recognize their identification. It is the same here and to dwell on it offers nothing new.
If the focus is not on the field, not on the seed, not on the sower, not on the harvest and not on the reapers, what is left? As I stated before, these three parables are complimentary -- that of the Sower, that of the Weeds, and this one of the Unattended Crop. Therefore we should seek a complimentary lesson from the latter that is distinct from the lessons of the others. All three illuminate the kingdom of God, and this must, therefore, provide light on some aspect of the operation of the kingdom.
Should we focus on the process itself? Many do this and go far astray, finding much significance where there is none. Sleeping and rising night and day seems charged with meaning for some. Such also see deep significance in the details of the progression from sprout to blade to ear to full corn in the ear. But there is none. Some create distinct identifications for the man who sows, the one who sleeps and rises, and the one who reaps. But these are all the same person, the Son of Man, and there can be no profit in making three out of one -- yes, some even see Trinitarian doctrine here!
Let us recognize now that ge in verses 26 and 28 (lines 4 and 8 in Table II) was chosen by Jesus to carefully establish a common link to the distinctions between heaven and earth. He could have chosen some other word had his focus been on the field: soil, ground or dirt, but none of those words could serve his purpose. He needed a word that, like earth in English, could define the field for the sake of the grain, and also the planet for the sake of the lesson. While his immediate disciples had no conception of a planetary earth, they did have a conception of earth en masse that was the total of all land as distinguished from the sea, and was also taken to represent the world, just as we often take earth in that sense. Therefore, the only appropriate English for ge is earth. By choosing other words, and different terms for the same word, they (the confused translators) only confuse those who depend on them to illuminate the Truth in Holy Scripture. This confusion is contagious! The lesson of the parable says nothing in detail about what transpires in a farmer's field where the progression of sprout - stalk - leaf - ear - full grain in the ear occurs.
Further, by focussing on the sequence of the activities of the man (farmer) who sleeps and rises night and day, those who do also go far astray. That sequence has no relevance here, but is only intended to indicate the passage of time. The same is true of the sequence of plant development. What these sequences point to, which is truly significant, is the passage of time and nothing more as indicated in line 5 of Table II. A process begins (line 6) and continues (line 10), until it ends at the close of the age and the Resurrection that concludes the process (lines 11, 12 & 13).
The words of lines 7 & 9 of Table II open the window to the lesson of this parable. The farmer (the Son of Man, the Christ who is exalted to the right hand of the Father) knows not how the process continues through the passage of time (night and day), but the earth (planet earth) produces automatically (of itself) through the same time. There is no input from the farmer until the harvest is ripe -- or from the Lord (into the process) until the close of the age.
The lesson of the parable is this: throughout history, from the first proclamation of the gospel by Jesus until he returns to claim his own (the harvest) at the close of the age, the process that he began continues unattended by him who has gone to be with his Father in heaven. Both the earth and the operation of the kingdom of God on earth are on automatic mode.
One of the most insightful aspects of this is that the phrase The earth produces of itself in v. 28 finds its expression in the NT Greek in automate. Does it look familiar? Thayer gives this definition:
Moved by one's own impulse, or acting without the instigation or intervention of another.It reminds us of one of our most familiar English words, automatic, as in automatic pistol, automatic door, automatic transmission or automatic temperature control. Webster's Collegiate gives this as its No. 2 definition:
having a self-acting or self-regulating mechanismSo why do the translators have to substitute other English words, when exactly the same word has carried over into the language as automatic, with no change in its basic definition? Now we can understand that what Jesus actually said was:
The earth produces automatically . . ..That his immediate disciples had no experience of automatic machinery or gadgets means that they understood this word to apply primarily to the actions of some one person who, without influence of another, did a certain thing of himself. But it was, even in their culture and time, applied to things in nature that operated without direct intervention of humans, such as the fruiting of a tree or of a stalk of grain, as in this case. So it was no stretch, when machines began to be invented, to apply the word to the machine as we now do. This is precisely how Jesus applies the word here, for the earth is not a person and the processes upon it are, in many respects, of the nature of an automatic machine.
See how well it compares: the first motor driven automatic washing machine appeared in rudimentary form about 1930. You understand its purpose, which is to launder your garments and other fabrics automatically -- that is, without your direct participation. Someone designed and manufactured the machine for you and you invested considerable funds when you purchased it. Yet it does nothing until you provide it with the essential soaps, bleaches, softeners, dirty fabrics and plug it in. Even so, it is necessary that in addition you select the cycle and then operate the start switch. From that point it proceeds to go through its cycle of wash, rinse, and spin according to the same pattern as the grain that produces first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. That makes it an automatic washing machine. I am here to tell you, as one whose least desired childhood chore was to scrub out the duds by hand on a wash board in a tub filled with water drawn from a well by hand and heated in a cast iron pot over a fire built and tended by hand, all outdoors, that it is a dandy invention.
That is the principle of automation by which the earth functions. It was designed and manufactured by the Creator with one purpose in so far as humans are concerned, then set in motion and supplied with all the necessary components, controls and supplies, the last and final components being supplied by Jesus during his sojourn on earth. He then left it to do its thing, which is to produce offspring for the Father in heaven. The earth is, with respect to all the divine personages, an automatic offspring machine.
Isn't that the process by which a human child comes to birth? The parents supply the necessary components and start the process to running, but then there is nothing they can do but marvel as the fetus develops. They can only await the day of birth while, night and day, they sleep and rise. They do not control the most essential details, those that are most important to them, such as the infants birth weight, its sex, or its freedom from malformation, the color of its eyes or hair, the clarity of its complexion or its IQ. The process is on automatic! To the male, the mother produces of herself. To the female, something mighty strange is transpiring inside, which she does not control. She can only wait and hope for the best outcome.
The earth is pregnant with the children of God and the Father in heaven, like the ones on earth, must await the Resurrection to see his newborns fully revealed. How many are there? From what nations do they come?
This is pertinent to the kingdom of God when we realize, as Jesus has also revealed in other utterances, that the kingdom came fully to earth on the day of his crucifixion, as confirmed by him when, just prior to his Ascension,
 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
The king placed the administration of the kingdom in his Earth Dominion on automatic when he left it. It continues so to this day, and will continue so until, as it is stated in the parable,
the grain is ripe..This lesson from the Parable of the Unattended Crop is perfectly consistent with the correct interpretation of other utterances of Jesus. It is a fundamental principle of the kingdom of God. In the Parable of the Sower, we find that the seed is left by the sower to do whatever it will do in whatever soil it finds itself. It is unattended. In the other Parable in this trilogy of parables, that of the Weeds, we find that the crop and the field is likewise unattended. An enemy sowed bad seed in it, all unknown to the farmer in that parable, until his laborers reported to him that some strange plants had appeared. An enemy has done this! So the farmer infers after the fact.
"Shall we go and root out the weeds?"
No, no, no! Let both grow together! Leave it alone lest worse results appear. The crop was and remains unattended. Thus it must continue until the harvest of planet earth. Thus it is in the kingdom of God and under the administration of the king.
The parables of the Sower and the Weeds, based on the same pattern, have their own lessons to tell but by themselves they leave unspecified this very important and absolutely essential feature of the process by which The Father in heaven reproduces offspring for his Glory. This brief Parable of the Unattended Crop reveals one of the most fundamental principles of the kingdom, apart from which one cannot see the kingdom or have any true perception of how it operates.
Oh, yes! Christians in general, and others also, have objections to this lesson. I empathize, for I also objected until the force of our Lords Words left me no options but to accept or deny him. Please allow me to remind you again that it is his Word, not mine. It is Jesus himself who, literally, stated that the earth produces automatically. In the force of that utterances our options take on severe limits!
The translators have failed us, once again, by not leaving the Greek, automate, as it appears in its original language. It needed no translation, meaning as it does the very same thing in modern English as in Ancient Greek. They did not like the implications, and botched their work by substituting other words.
Few are the Christians who, loving Truth more than self deception, are able even to entertain the thought that God has put the earth and all its processes on automatic. Each one surely has one's reason for this reluctance but I suspect most would say that this makes things seem much too mechanical and impersonal. They consider not that the concept automatic was understood long before automatic machines were invented, when it was first applied to persons. Neither have they considered that the exact same word that expresses the process has been carried down through more than two millennia to our time and language.
Just making a judgment call now (admittedly, for I haven't taken a poll) but it is my conclusion based on a lifetime of exposure to Christians, having been one, that they each generally seek to use God as a personal genie. The Bible is their magic lamp, which having rubbed (by believing something about Jesus that is written somewhere in there), they expect the genie to appear and grant them three wishes: health, wealth and happiness. Oh yes, there is a fourth: eternal life beyond the grave! I didn't forget this last one, it is just that it doesn't appear prominent in the real and immediate concerns of Christians. What really claims their interest, generally speaking, is what the genie can do for them now.
Bring out the magic lamp; the genie can fix it.
A troubled marriage?
Bring out the magic lamp; the genie can fix it.
That is surely the genie's most common call. Rub that lamp and he will heal! Got a drug or alcohol problem? Need I say more?
However, this genie seems often asleep. When God doesn't respond, these persons tend either to lose faith in God altogether or to blame Him for their condition. Such a person sent the following question to Billy Graham:2
I'm tired of people telling me that God loves me. If He really loved me, I wouldn't have had to face three surgeries in the last six months, or lots of other problems. If God exists, He doesn't seem to care. I just don't understand.To whom Dr. Graham replies:
Let me be honest with you: I don't understand God's ways either, or why He allows bad things to happen to us. Even one of the Old Testament prophets cried out to God, "Why do you tolerate wrong?"The doctor is clueless. He is also misreading the prophet. I do not even credit him with his assertion of honesty in admitting his ignorance, for he surely would not acknowledge ignorance if he imagined that anyone else in this world understands this. He does not know that there are a few disciples around who do understand because they listen to Jesus and believe him. But this evangelist, who has spent his life and energies preaching a flawed salvation doctrine founded on believing something about Jesus, has never yet realized what it means to actually believe Jesus.
These are individual and personal objections to the correct interpretation of this Parable of the Unattended Crop. Others arise from the corporate body of "believers" that can best be described as social objections. I will mention two major objections from this category.
Christians tend to be patriots, and further, to believe that their country, whatever it is, uniquely has God for its patron. In any war that involves their nation, God is on their side and they pray to him to protect their soldiers and give victory to their armies. Their service to country is a joint service to God. Just rubbing the lamp!
Another objection springs from racism. It is difficult for young people in this new century to even imagine, but multitudes of their grandparents in the Confederacy firmly believed that God created black people specifically to serve white people and that God was himself the author of segregation, who would surely maintain this essential institution. Some of the old heads are still wondering, disappointed, if the genie was somehow otherwise occupied on this one.
If he yet survives, Willie Harris is surely one of these puzzled old heads. A deacon and strong supporter of our first misguided endeavor, Fortune Baptist Church near Parkin, Arkansas (Mildred was hard to beat when it came to frying up a chicken for Sunday dinner), he objected vigorously to my preaching that God was mighty displeased with segregated worship. This would have been in 1953 when he said:
"Brother Jones! This is Arkansas! Niggers will never worship with us or go to school with out children!"
Surely anyone can understand why people, dominated by such beliefs and convictions, are reluctant to believe that God has left the field unattended. It is the unthinkable thought. It is also the Truth that was cast upon the earth by Jesus long ago and their options, as were mine, are severely restricted.
We come now to another objection to our interpretation of the Parable of the Unattended Crop that arises from Line No. 7 in Table II above. We find this stipulation clearly stated:
. . . he knows not how.Unwilling to subscribe to the thought that there is anything that the omniscient God does not know, few are aready to acknowledge that Jesus is indicating either God or himself in this phrase, by comparison with a farmer who, his crop unattended, knows not how the process unfolds in the field. This forces them to distinguish the sower - harvester, who is clearly God, from the one who knows not how. This latter character must represent, not the divine personages, but the Christian who only sees the mystery unfolding before him as God does his work. This objection can be detected behind the interpretations listed above.
The language of the parable renders this distinction totally inadmissible. There is only one actor in this picture and it is the very same one from beginning to end. The scene changes but the character does not. Yet this is a very strong objection, one growing out of profound convictions as to the nature of God, and so it must be met. This is easy to do.
The stipulation, he knows not how, applies only to the farmer as a means of stressing the farmer's non involvement with the continuing process in his field. In as much as the farmer represents the divine personages, this phrase only stresses the extremity of God's non involvement. It is not necessary to apply this limitation to God's knowledge. It is, after all, a parable. This stipulation should be applied similarly to the one describing the farmer as one who should sleep and rise night and day. We do not think of God as one who is subject to the 24 hour cycle of sleeping and rising. Hence, we can easily see this stipulation as stressing the passage of time rather than the nature of God. We do not infer from this that God sleeps, nor need we infer that God lacks knowledge.
One other objection has perhaps already popped up in your mind as you ponder the idea that God is uninvolved in the process, making the earth an automatic offspring machine. I suppose that this is the strongest objection and have held it for the last. It is based on direct utterances of the Lord, of which there are a few. The following are typical:
 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.A quick perusal of the above texts indicates not only a possible problem with the non involvement of God as suggested above, but also possible evidence of a strong contradiction in the utterances of Jesus. We will deal first with this supposed contradiction, and then we will see that there is after all no problem with the non involvement of God on the earth during the present age. This possible contradiction in the utterances of Jesus shows up elsewhere as well, but isolating it from the two texts listed above is sufficient testimony of its existence:
. . . and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.Do we, his disciples, have him or do we not have him with us always?
For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.
The Father is not here, he is in heaven as Jesus repeatedly asserted in one way or another.
Jesus is not here; he has gone to be with the Father in heaven. This he also stressed.
There is no need to be puzzled, friends, because Jesus was careful to explain this. We see this explanation in the below passage that follows immediately after the statement of John 14:18 above. I include it with the explanation here:
 I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.We see first that his coming to the disciples after leaving them will be in some sense visible (manifest) to the disciples, but the world will have no cognizance of it. You will see me, but the world will see me no more. And, I will love him and manifest myself to him. (To him, meaning he who loves me, a disciple). The following verses 23-28 are a sufficient explanation. I do not need to say more; I need add nothing to what the Lord has said.
 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also.
 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"
 Jesus answered him, If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
 These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you.
 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
 You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I."
The Lord had already explained this association of the Spirit and the Word in Chapter 6 of the Fourth Gospel when he said, explaining what he had meant by "he who eats me" in v.57:
 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.Jesus is uniquely present within the disciple who has eaten the words that I have spoken.
The divine presence is married to the Logos and it is in and through that marriage that Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to be present with us and through which all the heavenly personages are with us, not only the Holy Spirit but also the Father and the Son. The world does not see him because he has gone to the Father in heaven, but we see him through the Spirit that he has sent to join with the Logos within us. It is in this way that he has left us, yet is always with us! Now that we understand the distinction of the two manners of his presence with us, the supposed contradiction disappears. He is with us internally when we receive and believe his Word, while externally, he has gone to the Father in heaven.
Now, what of the supposed contradiction of the non involvement of the heavenly personages in the earth during the present age, that spans the time from the Ascension of Jesus to the Father, (leaving the earth, so that the world sees him no more) and his return in the Glory of the Father at the close of the age?
Jesus has just explained that also, but since the application may not be obvious, let me help to make it obvious by another illustration from my childhood. I again bring to your attention that honest man, Charles Penn Jones. On my first day in the rural public school in 1932 (Loneoak Elementary), he cranked up the Model A, backed it out of the barn where he garaged it, and drove me there. Someone from the family was necessarily present to enroll me. I was excited and recall the day vividly because it was my first adventure away from home and outside direct parental control. Along the way, he informed me that I was expected to behave myself at school as though he were there. Then he made a statement I have never forgotten:
"Sonny, you are a good boy; but if you should misbehave and get a licking at school, you will get another one when you get home."
That's all he said about my behavior. His lickings, though very few, were the most memorable events in my early childhood. His word was therefore also memorable. You may be wondering how he would know I had a licking at school? That is an easy one to answer: I would tell him! Not to tell him, and to have him discover it from someone else later, would surely have subjected me to a much worse penalty!
So, I went to school and, every day, there he was with me at all times -- a vivid and compelling presence! I knew him as a man of his word who made no promise that he did not or could not keep, thus he was married to that word, and it -- and he -- were in me constantly. Yes, I was tempted many times to misbehave but always he was there, empowering me every day and hour, strengthening my resolve to be "a good boy."
Yet he was also not there. There were bullies who gave me a hard time; had he been there he would have protected me, but he was not there. Nevertheless I was comforted because I also knew that I was under his ultimate protection. Had some bigger kid severely injured me, he or his Dad would have had to deal with Charles Penn Jones.
The Lord's presence is an internal one, and absolutely real. The world does not see him, because he is absent from it, having gone to the Father. His presence is internal, his absence is external and yet, even though externally absent, He exercises the ultimate sovereignty. As a six year old at Loneoak Elementary, I found myself subject to the direct rule of a classroom teacher (Miss Lucy Wingo) and, above that, the Principle. I was aware of no other administration or authority, but there was one. Above the Principle stood the County School Superintendent, whom I never saw or imagined and whose name I did not know; above even him stood the School Board, responsible for hiring and authorizing the Superintendent. Yet the chain of command did not begin even there, for the School Board members were elected by the citizens, including Charles Penn Jones, from whom they derived their authority. It was a kingdom of parents. We, the little First Graders at Loneoak Elementary, were under and in a kingdom of parents much as the inhabitants of the nations of the world are under the administration of the kingdom of the Father. Therefore, as Jesus stated, the kingdom of God is like an unattended crop in this Parable of the Unattended Crop.
With a little thought anyone can understand, in the light of this parable, why bad things happen in the world, why some struggle with handicaps, pain, heartbreak and seemingly great loss, and why all must ultimately die. One can as easily understand why these things take place and why God sometimes seems not to care and not to love the many unfortunates of the earth, although his kingdom has come on earth as it is in heaven and his Messiah rules, unseen, over all. I have discussed this here, and will not expand further in this paper, except to ask you this simple question:
If Charles Penn Jones had accompanied me to Loneoak School every day, hovered over me constantly at my little desk, constantly protected me from the bullies during recess and at lunch time and had given me the correct answers to every test -- what kind of person might I have become?
The Parable of the Sower explains that there are different kinds of soil in the field and under the administration of the kingdom, which produce differing results. The Parable of the Weeds reveals that two fundamentally different kinds of seeds are sown there, producing grain and darnel. The Parable of the Unattended Crop reveals that all of this proceeds automatically, without intrusion or interference by him who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is an unattended crop. It is an automatic offspring machine.
1. Definition of ge, from Thayer's Greek -- English Lexicon of the New Testament:
1. arable land2. Billy Graham, My Answer, Memphis Commercial Appeal, May 12, 2003
2. the ground, the earth as a standing place
3. the main land, opp. to sea or water
4. the earth as a whole; the world
a. the earth as opp. to the heavens5. a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory,
b. the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals
3. George Eldon Ladd, Jesus and the Kingdom, @ 1964