Home Resources Sermons Recent SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – JULY 23, 2017

TEXT: MATT 13:24-30, 36-43; IS. 44:6-8; ROM. 8:18-27
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To all at Luther Memorial Chapel, loved by God and called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

He put another parable before them saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field…” What beautiful Gospel! This undeserved sowing is all God’s doing! The King of Israel, the Lord of hosts (of angel armies), sowed good seed in His field. The world – His field – is groaning in bondage to decay – under the wages of death for the rebellion of sin. Yet God reaches down in profound love sowing good seed. “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me?” Indeed – who is like the Holy One - the Redeemer – who sowed good seed in His subjected-to-futility creation?

It is a mighty miracle that you believe this – that you hope in Him who sows good seed – that you are wheat – the church of Jesus Christ! Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. It is a mighty miracle that you hope for a new creation set free from all bondage to decay – even the redemption of our bodies. What beautiful Gospel is the man who sowed good seed in his field!

But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. Not just any weeds – as these sprout and grow they look just like the wheat. This cunning disguise is the work of the Master’s enemy – who Scripture elsewhere reveals disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man…The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. Dear Christians – the devil does not cease to exist because the world pretends he does not exist. Jesus identifies his work and warns against it. No pretending with Him. He who has ears let him hear.

Hearing Jesus word is the key to life! Through Jesus’ sowing of His word - His kingdom happens – wheat happens! Jesus’ parables are not only about His kingdom, they bring His kingdom. The Son of Man is sowing even now among you. It is for this reason that vital truth is omitted on signs inside church doors that read – “you are now entering the mission field.” They are well-intentioned, to remind - as you go out - of witnessing Christ in one’s vocation. But the heart of witnessing Christ in every vocation is receiving His gifts of forgiveness and life among His gathered people. In the battle between faith and unbelief the mission field of Jesus surely exists within these walls as much as it does outside these walls.

So testify the specifics of this parable. It is precisely where the Son of Man sows His good seed that the devil sows weeds - (among the wheat). It will be different at harvest at the close of the age – but right now the church is messy – visible church is a mixture of people – like an un-weeded field. This is not like cultivating the weeds out of the rows of a cornfield. Wheat doesn’t grow in rows and tares look the same and grow intermingled with it. No farmer in his senses tries to separate weeds from wheat while the crop is growing.

Concerning the purity of the visible church – there is a mixture of people – wheat and weeds. Since Satan disguises himself as an angel of light – it is no surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (1 Cor. 11:15). They may even fool themselves in the disguise of self-righteousness.

Jesus here speaks to one reason the church seems so unimpressive to the world. Yet even to unbelievers His parable says – judgment is coming – stop looking for something other than I am offering you. He also speaks to the reason the public witness of the visible church is confused and sometimes openly contradicts God’s written word. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit who intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. This is the deceitful work of the devil within the church.

Being Christ’s Church – loving one’s neighbor – never means denying God’s truth - about life (even in the womb) – about marriage (male and female) – about the sacraments (God’s gracious and grace-giving action) – about salvation (there is no other name under heaven Acts 4:12) – about love and prayer (even for enemies and those who persecute you).

The battle is real! In the messy mixture you must not be surprised that “Christian” means something else to the world than to you. To the person on the street “Christian” does not mean those who see themselves as the worst of sinners and yet believe that they are God’s own holy ones through the work of Jesus – hungering for righteousness and receiving the ongoing forgiveness He bestows. When the person on the street hears “Christian” they may think “ah yes – those who think they are better than others – those puritans whom Jesus doesn’t want to have any fun.” Conversely – in our time – they may hear “Christian” and think – “ah yes – those religious types – progressive people – who make no truth claims and march in step with culture’s attempt to redefine morality.”

Dear Christians, the weeds are among the wheat and the division is not neatly along denominational lines. Being a member of the Missouri Synod does not give someone standing as wheat. Only faith in the crucified and risen and forgiving and interceding Christ does that! There are unbelievers in churches and church bodies that remain true to God’s Word. Conversely, where God’s word is still used – where the Son of Man is still sowing – faith may be present where confession is confused and wavering and straying.

The danger is great! The church is to mark those who cause divisions by denying God’s Word. False teaching is to be turned from and rooted out. But those who are wheat in God’s harvest are to give first attention to their own sin. They are to beware of themselves. Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Not only is Christ sowing your New Man through the word He speaks to you but the devil is whispering all manner of lies to your Old Adam. In your conscience – the devil works constantly to have you think that your praying and doing make you righteous enough for judgment. This is a deadly disguise. Failing that he works just as constantly to lead you to doubt the unspotted righteousness you have through Jesus doing and praying for you and with you.

In this messy mixture – in this grow-together time - Jesus’ ministry is not focused on the immediate elimination of evil in the world or in the church. Rather He focuses His mission on salvation – on your readiness for the end-time judgment. Everything builds to this! The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and law-breakers and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Fellow-redeemed – the incarnation of God’s love here proclaims hell. God takes seriously and will condemn faith destroying and immoralities. Repentance is not a game. Your repentance today is not a game. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. “O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that, ever mindful of Your final judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here and dwell with You in perfect joy hereafter; through Jesus Christ…”

Through Jesus Christ! Only the Son of Man provides this for you! The judgment is so intolerable that He came from heaven not simply to proclaim it but to face it – in your stead. You see, the enemy in this parable is His enemy – the Sower’s enemy. His enemy is not able to root out the good seed He sows. “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). This Jesus said on the confession that He was the Christ – the Son of the living God. Then He immediately spoke of the keys of the kingdom given to bind and to loose sin.

Beloved of God – that’s what fills the kernels of wheat in God’s field – His forgiveness – the forgiveness won by Christ and delivered as He continues to sow His word. The devil and his weed-sowing are real - but God is your Rock. He reaches down in profound love sowing good seed in you. “I am the first and the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me?”

Who is like me who clothed you with myself at the font (Gal. 3:27)? Though all hell endeavors to shake you – I will never forsake you. Who is like me who spoke into reality the gift of intensive love before stepping out into the night to face betrayal and then to suffer crucifixion? Take and eat my body – body once for all sacrificed for the sin of the world. Drink of my blood – blood that cleanses from all sin. Was He also then made weed – made to be sin for us – that He would suffer the fire of God’s wrath in our sinful place? Oh, yes! Who is like me – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Who is like me whom death could not hold (Acts 2:41) and who now lives to serve you and to make intercession for you.

In His goodness He sows! In His goodness He prevents premature judgmental action. In the final gathering, even the angels of God will minister to you. Everything builds to this and everything builds on Him! He Himself became good seed – indeed He became wheat of our wheat (Heb. 2:17-18). He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. What beautiful Gospel is His sowing and what beautiful Gospel He sows in you.

It is a mighty miracle - His miracle - that you hope in Him and not another – not even yourself. It is His gift of faith that He continues to work in you. Who is like me – who continues sowing good seed – to give you Myself until I come again. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Indeed, the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed to us. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.


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