HEAR, THEN, THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER!
TEXT: MATTHEW 13:3-9, 18-23
Preached by 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.

A key attitude in life is the attitude of listening. Husbands don’t listen to wives the way they should. Often what a wife desires most from her husband is not that he try to fix a problem or come up with his idea of a quick answer, but that he listen and understand, that he truly knows his wife in her vocation and struggles. Husbands don’t listen to wives the way they should. It is also true that wives don’t always listen perfectly to their husbands in the role that God has given them.
HEAR, THEN, THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER!
TEXT: MATTHEW 13:3-9, 18-23
Preached by 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.

A key attitude in life is the attitude of listening. Husbands don’t listen to wives the way they should. Often what a wife desires most from her husband is not that he try to fix a problem or come up with his idea of a quick answer, but that he listen and understand, that he truly knows his wife in her vocation and struggles. Husbands don’t listen to wives the way they should. It is also true that wives don’t always listen perfectly to their husbands in the role that God has given them.

A key attitude in life is the attitude of listening. Children don’t listen to parents the way they should. Dr. Luther taught from Scripture that God has placed parents in their position of authority and care and teaching. Children are to honor and obey their parents, to love and cherish them. That requires deep, determined, daily listening and Satan works overtime to interfere. Children don’t listen to parents the way they should. It is also true that parents don’t listen perfectly to their children and understand their needs and fears.

A key attitude in life is the attitude of listening. At vicar’s invitation I read a short chapter this week entitled “The Unbusy Pastor”. It discussed how readily pastors let other duties crowd out time to listen to God in prayer. The author said, “You can’t be busy and pray at the same time”. He also suggested in regard to pastoral visits that the key question isn’t how many people you’ve talked to this week, but how many people have you listened to in Christ this week. A key attitude in life is the attitude of listening. Listening to Jesus’ words is the key to all of life! That’s why we gather in worship today and each week. Hear then, the parable of the sower!

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

Steady traffic presses a footpath down solid. Seed that falls on that hardened surface just lays there on top. It never gets in and starts to grow. This is one response to hearing the Word of God. The Word falls on the ear, but it sounds like nonsense – it isn’t taken seriously - it doesn’t move the heart to faith. Amid economic voices and entertainment voices and political voices and philosophical voices and the voices of family and friends, the inviting, forgiving voice of Jesus sounds like just so much noise. Satan snatches the seed away.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. This is a second response to hearing the Word of God. When the Word falls on the ear it is received with enthusiasm by the heart. In a love-starved world the good news of the Gospel is recognized. This person truly believes Christ and begins receiving His forgiveness.

But when opposition arises, God’s gift of faith is burnt away. The heat of public opinion seems too intense. The liberal media hammers away. The religion of Darwinism harasses the Christian confession that God created all things through the one speaking this parable. The mocking of others, the educational and cultural fads of the moment all take their toll. The scorching sun of fitting-in burns faith away. The heart in which the new life of faith sprang forth is robbed of its greatest treasure. Faith is dead, burnt up by opposition.

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. This is a third response to hearing the word of God. When the Word falls on the ear it is received in faith by the heart. This person truly believes Christ and begins receiving His forgiveness. He or she may even withstand the heat of ridicule while the roots of faith grow deeper. But other roots are growing at the same time. Thorns of worry compete for time and space and thought. Life is complicated. Relationships can be rocky. Strength and security are easily shaken. So many cares of the world act to choke out faith.

Jesus singles out one suffocating thorn for special mention – the deceitfulness of riches. In the face of $4.00 per gallon gas, a struggling economy, higher food prices and puffed-up political promises do you see the same threat that Jesus states – the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful? Even $5.00 or $6.00 per gallon gas can’t choke faith from your heart and keep you from traveling to heaven at life’s end. Neither can financial loss and drastic changes to your plans and pace of life. Such changes may cause pain for you and those you love. They may hamper options and opportunities for families and for congregations.

But the absence of riches or the loss of riches isn’t the eternal threat. The real threat is their fraudulent promise to provide happiness and meaning to life! The real threat is loving money as an idol, as that which makes life good and determines your worth. God makes life good and determines your worth in Christ. The real threat is to rob from God as if your riches are your own and not yours to manage for Him. In that regard, the thorns of greed and materialism can become even more asphyxiating in difficult times. You pinch me God and constrict my plans and I’ll pinch you back.

The story is told of Henry Thornton who over a century ago in a different country was a generous giver to Christian missions. On one occasion he had just made out a check for five pounds when a telegram arrived. As he read it he turned pale and said to the visitor, “I have received terrible financial news – give me back the check”. The visitor reluctantly complied, expecting that the gift would be now cancelled. But Mr. Thornton took the check and altered it to read fifty pounds instead of five saying, “God has taught me that I may not much longer possess my property and that I must use it well.” God help you and me to give special attention to that which Jesus singles out for special attention. God preserve us from idolizing riches and robbing from God in an attempt to fashion and enrich our earthly future or that of our family.

Dear Christians, while these three soils appear quite different on the surface, a tragic truth becomes painfully evident. We are the ones on whom the seed is sown in all of the bad soils. We are the ones attuned to the steps of people and not the voice of God. We are the ones who have no root in ourselves and wither in the heat. We are the ones with thorns hanging all over us, thorns of worry and thorns of wanting more, more savings, more security, more stuff.

The disposition of our native soil is not to hear the Word of God. The sad truth is that we have no power to get rid of the thorns or the rocks or the hard-packed earth. To exhort you to become better soil would be nonsense. This parable teaches what is, not what ought to be. The only place we can look for help is the one whom seed was sown on the good soil. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Hear how Jesus predicted His own death calling it the hour of His glory! “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:23, 24).

Jesus is the seed that dies and bears the fruit. He is the good seed that creates the good soil. In agriculture this doesn’t happen, but in the Kingdom of God it does. It is a holy mystery! Jesus is the Word that comes forth from the mouth of God whom Isaiah spoke of. He accomplishes what God intends. He is the Word of God made flesh who does not return to God empty.

He didn’t look like good soil or like good seed as he prospered in the work for which God sent Him. The footpath into Jerusalem was pressed hard with the feet of men pursuing a different kind of Messiah. As He hung in naked shame, Satan snatched at His faith. “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” On the rocky soil of Golgotha He looked like a temporary enthusiast withering under the scorching sun. On the cross, the thorns and thistles in the curse of Genesis Three encircled His head in a crown of thorns. Those thorns included the worries of this age that choke us and the deceitfulness of wealth that dries up our trust and thankfulness in God and throttles our joy in giving.

“Unless a seed falls to the ground it remains only a single seed, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” The blessed seed did die and rise again! The fruit of His cross and open tomb is not just thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. The fruit of His cross produces a harvest of uncountable saints, believers beyond number (Rev. 7). He is the good seed and the good soil. Risen from the grave He is among you this morning to sow the seed of His Word into your ears to take root in your heart to affect what your lips say and the life you live. He is here to give you the soil of His own faithful hearing and doing of the Word of God. The bread that He gives to the eater (Is 55:10) as Isaiah said is His very body for He says “Take and eat this is My body.”

On the day of our text Jesus taught over the waters from a boat. Today and each week He teaches you over the water of your baptism from this boat, the nave of His church. As He did for baby Connor today, so He has given you new birth of water and the word. By His washing of renewal, your rocky, thorny, hard-packed heart was recreated as good soil. His Word accomplished what it was sent for as He combined it with water to baptize you into His death (Rom 6) and clothe you with Himself (Gal 3). Let no one rob you of the goodness or greatness of His gracious gift to you! He is faithful to His promises to you! Let not Satan keep you from inviting others to return and receive His gifts. His love for those from whom faith has been choked or burnt away remains steadfast. He desires them to turn again and receive life from His hand.

As His dear child, hear the parable of the sower! Take heed to the threats to your faith. The scorching sun of opposition is at work to dry up your faith. The choking thorns of worry and wealth’s trickery are a constant threat. Thank God for the constancy of His love. Thank God that the Word made flesh comes to accomplish what God pleases! He does not return to God empty but bears much fruit. By God’s grace and mercy, you are part of His harvest. By God’s grace and mercy in Christ, you are beautiful, rich, good soil.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. A key attitude in life is the attitude of listening. Listening to Jesus’ words is the key to all of life! “He who has ears, let him hear.” Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a