SEXAGESISMA – FEB. 8, 2015
TEXTS: LUKE 8:4-15; ISAIAH 55:10-13; 2 COR. 11:19-12:9
THE WORD IS HELD FAST IN YOUR HEART
THAT JESUS CONTINUES TO MAKE HONEST AND TRUE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


“A sower went out to sow his seed…As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” 


Saint Luke uses these two adjectives of the heart in a way that occurs nowhere else in Scripture!  Both Greek words - “honest” and “good” – are used for translating (in the LXX) the Hebrew word for “good” at creation. God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed…each according to their kind…And it was so…And God saw that it was good. The word “good” as used here means that the seed was fit for the purpose God created it. The seed did what God made it to do.


In the good soil, the word is held fast in an honest and good heart. When God speaks of the heart in Scripture it means more than emotions and desires. The meaning of “heart” in Scripture goes far beyond the limits of the red hearts and the chocolate hearts of Valentine’s Day. The meaning of “heart” in Scripture includes the seat of thinking and deep reflection and the place of the will and resolve. In Scripture, heart means the supreme center in man, the base of all the functions and forces of soul and spirit. The heart is the place in you at which God bears witness to Himself. 

SEXAGESISMA – FEB. 8, 2015
TEXTS: LUKE 8:4-15; ISAIAH 55:10-13; 2 COR. 11:19-12:9
THE WORD IS HELD FAST IN YOUR HEART
THAT JESUS CONTINUES TO MAKE HONEST AND TRUE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


“A sower went out to sow his seed…As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” 


Saint Luke uses these two adjectives of the heart in a way that occurs nowhere else in Scripture!  Both Greek words - “honest” and “good” – are used for translating (in the LXX) the Hebrew word for “good” at creation. God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed…each according to their kind…And it was so…And God saw that it was good. The word “good” as used here means that the seed was fit for the purpose God created it. The seed did what God made it to do.


In the good soil, the word is held fast in an honest and good heart. When God speaks of the heart in Scripture it means more than emotions and desires. The meaning of “heart” in Scripture goes far beyond the limits of the red hearts and the chocolate hearts of Valentine’s Day. The meaning of “heart” in Scripture includes the seat of thinking and deep reflection and the place of the will and resolve. In Scripture, heart means the supreme center in man, the base of all the functions and forces of soul and spirit. The heart is the place in you at which God bears witness to Himself.


The reckless sower of this parable is sowing right now – into your ears – desiring the seed to drop into your heart and remain active there. In His parable Jesus invites each of us to examine the soil of our hearts and to repent. A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it…The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The pop-cultural path around Scripture’s witness is trampled hard in our day. Satan is slick and he constantly snatches at the seed that is sown. “You cannot trust the Bible,” he says, “You are foolish to believe God’s good creation and wise to believe unproven naturalistic views.”  “All holy books are religious superstition” he says – turning ears and hearts from the one Holy Book that is grounded in real history and verified again and again and again by archaeological and historical findings. Tragically, some seed never reaches human hearts – taken away by the devil – in this and other ways.


A sower went out to sow his seed…And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  Such hearts – are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. The Bible does not teach “once saved – always saved.”  Testing of faith in Christ will come to every Christian. It comes in aging and sickness. It comes in youth and good health. It comes in classrooms of a state university and in classrooms on a Concordia Campus. The heat of testing comes from open persecution and from elitist ridicule. Some who are granted faith in Christ do not endure when life in Christ gets hot – when it involves the cross. Tragically some wither in the heat.


A sower went out to sow his seed…And some fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it…They are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. Dear Christians the crush of choking daily cares is constant!  The pull of pleasure is persistent!  The lure of riches is ongoing!  It is remarkable how the Lord equates riches with thorns. In peace and good days the deceitfulness of riches can wound the heart and mind. All of these – cares and riches and pleasures - seek to choke from your heart and mine faith in the gracious care - the undeserved riches - the eternal pleasures God bestows in Christ. 


A sower went out to sow. Jesus spoke this parable to a great crowd - people coming to him from town after town. As He described the different types of soil He kept raising His voice and calling out to the crowd He who has ears to hear, let him hear. The reckless Sower of this parable is sowing right now – into your ears. And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets (mysteries) of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” 


While Jesus names four types of soil – they result in a division of only two types of people – those receiving the word of God in faith and those not. This understanding would be crucial for the twelve and the seventy two whom Jesus would soon send out as His messengers (Luke 9 & 10). Some would receive the word of God the disciples sowed and some would reject it outright. Some who initially received the word in faith would fail to stand the test of trial and steadfast endurance. They would fall away. However, some, hearing the word, would hold it fast in honest and good hearts and bear fruit with patience.


Jesus did not teach in parables to confuse and preclude sinners from receiving His salvation. He taught in parables so that the Holy mystery of God’s kingdom would be seen in His person and in His work. Jesus set profound eternal truth alongside simple events of life to connect His life-giving word to thorn infested hearts. “He who has ears to hear let him hear.”


Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  Dear Christian, to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. In holy baptism you were washed with water combined with God’s Word. He planted Himself in you!  As a child of God you now continue to gather to hear His Word. So many do not know that amidst heaven and earth that is passing away, God’s Holy Word does not pass away!  So many do not know that in this dying world of confusing voices there is one voice of life and truth!  To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God!  So many do not know that in this dark world of humanism and relativism there is a Word that is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. So many do not know that there is a strong word from God that bespeaks us righteous – that give us not only an honest and good heart, but also His own holiness!


A sower went out to sow his seed…As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”  Ah, but does your heart really measure up to this coupled pair of adjectives – honest and good?  Perhaps you are aware that patience is not always your strong suit in bearing fruit. You may sense a reluctance to bear the cross when opposition to Christ heats up?  While St. Paul notes 40 lashes 5 times there is the real temptation to avoid even one tongue lashing or mocking by others. While St. Paul recounts frequent hunger and hardship there is the temptation to fault God if riches aren’t steadily increasing. Do you see a significant void of mature fruit in keeping God’s name holy, in loving your neighbor, in cheerfulness of giving, in trusting that God’s grace is sufficient for you in every weakness?  As St. Paul said in another place, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18). You see, the organic soil of our hearts is not good – but hardened and rocky and thorn infested.


Jesus here invites each of us to examine our heart. While we cannot discern all of our sin (Psalm 19:12) enough hardness and weakness and thorniness or heart is evident that we recoil from boasting in ourselves and despair of confidence in our strong hold on God’s Word. Rather amid the devil’s deceit and our sinful nature’s fear and the world’s cares our soul is bowed down to the dust. We rightly cry – O Lord Rise up; come to our help! 


And so He has and so He does!  A sower went out to sow. This Sower is the promised seed of Eve and Abraham and David!   No one is good but God alone (Mark 10:18) and this seed is God in the flesh!  He is the good seed fit for the purpose for which God sent Him forth!   That purpose was to rescue us from our sinful and deceitful hearts. That purpose was to give us ultimate rescue from the danger and adversity of this groaning and fleeting world.


Satan could not snatch the perfect trust of this man in God’s Word. As the Second Adam He lived by every word that comes from the mouth of God. That word included the promise of His own bloody sacrifice in our stead – carrying our failings of hearing and keeping the Word of God. The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…like a lamb that is led to the slaughter…it was the will of the Lord to crush him (Is. 53:7-10). Yet, on the stony hill of Golgotha, even the scorching heat of God’s wrath did not wither His faith. There, bearing the world’s sin, completing the world’s redemption He called out with a loud voice – “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Fellow-redeemed, we rightly cry to Him – O Lord, Rise up; come to our help! 


And rise up He did – on the morning of the third day!  Planted in the garden tomb hewn out of rock, He rose bodily from the house of death. In speaking of his revelation of paradise St. Paul said – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know. But of the resurrection of Jesus body and of your resurrection on the last day – you do know. In your flesh you will see God. Unless a seed falls to the ground it remains only a single seed, but if it dies it bears much fruit (See John 12:23-24). The fruit of Jesus’ cross and open tomb is not just a hundredfold but a harvest of uncountable saints, believers without number (Rev. 7) including you. To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.


The sower went out to sow!  Risen from the grave, ascended with all the authority in heaven and on earth - He is among us now – still sowing His word!  The word that goes forth from His mouth will not return to him empty. At His Altar the seed of his Word is packed with His flesh and blood, His death and resurrection!  It is packed with the abundant life of Him who was packed with your sin and death.


Recall that those two words honest and good mean doing what God gives something to do. In this fallen world of adversity and danger God gives His Son that hearts may find their rest, their forgiveness, their living hope in Him and not in their own strength. God sees the incarnate Christ at work in you!  Therein He sees in you an honest and good heart - soil that He makes good!  Such is the strength of the Word of God!


In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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