SEXAGESIMA – JAN 31, 2016
TEXTS: LUKE 8:4-15; ISAIAH 55:10-13; 2 COR. 11:19-12;9
CHRIST IS THE HOLY MYSTERY OF GOD’S KINGDOM!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

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

 

When his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said “To you it has been given to know the secrets (the mysteries) of the kingdom of God.”


Consider first St. Paul’s knowledge of the mysteries of God’s kingdom and his concern for them. While many claim to have gone to heaven and come back, Paul actually was caught up into paradise. Contrary to those who write books thought to help unlock the mysteries of heaven St. Paul says he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. St. Paul did not contend for the mysteries of God by attempting to peer into what God has not revealed. Rather as he contends for God’s mysteries at that time and context in Corinth – his tongue is sharp with sarcasm.

 

You gladly bear with fools…you bear it if someone makes slaves of you or devours you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs… Paul contrasts his sufferings (imprisonment, beatings, lashings, stoning) with the soft, life of false apostles. They enslave hearts by presenting another Jesus – a different spirit – a different Gospel. As Paul sows the seed of God’s word in great hardship his greatest concern is for his hearers’ knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He declares, apart from other things, (things such as shipwreck, sleepless nights, being without food) apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Just earlier Paul notes the heart of his anxiety and his chief concern for the mysteries of God’s kingdom. I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).

SEXAGESIMA – JAN 31, 2016
TEXTS: LUKE 8:4-15ISAIAH 55:10-132 COR. 11:19-12;9
CHRIST IS THE HOLY MYSTERY OF GOD’S KINGDOM!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

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

When his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said “To you it has been given to know the secrets (the mysteries) of the kingdom of God.”


Consider first St. Paul’s knowledge of the mysteries of God’s kingdom and his concern for them. While many claim to have gone to heaven and come back, Paul actually was caught up into paradise. Contrary to those who write books thought to help unlock the mysteries of heaven St. Paul says he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. St. Paul did not contend for the mysteries of God by attempting to peer into what God has not revealed. Rather as he contends for God’s mysteries at that time and context in Corinth – his tongue is sharp with sarcasm.


You gladly bear with fools…you bear it if someone makes slaves of you or devours you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs… Paul contrasts his sufferings (imprisonment, beatings, lashings, stoning) with the soft, life of false apostles. They enslave hearts by presenting another Jesus – a different spirit – a different Gospel. As Paul sows the seed of God’s word in great hardship his greatest concern is for his hearers’ knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He declares, apart from other things, (things such as shipwreck, sleepless nights, being without food) apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Just earlier Paul notes the heart of his anxiety and his chief concern for the mysteries of God’s kingdom. I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).


To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Consider also Isaiah’s knowledge of the mysteries of God’s kingdom and concern for them. As He contends for them at this time and context in Israel, his tongue is sweet with summons not sharp with sarcasm. He proclaims God’s active Word – like rain and snow…water the earth…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth…it will accomplish what I purpose. Just before that, a universal invitation for all humanity rings out. Come, everyone who thirsts…buy without money – seek the Lord while he may be found (Is. 55:1-9). And the basis for this gracious invitation and everlasting covenant of steadfast love comes a bit before – another chapter before. Isaiah there discloses the free drink of salvation comes at an infinite price. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities – it was the will of the Lord to crush him (Is. 53:5, 7, 10). To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Dear Christians, this is the substance of the Word of God that will not return to Him empty – it is the Word made flesh and the words by which the Holy Spirit proclaims Him. As Jesus testified on the day of His resurrection – this is the purpose of Holy Scripture. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


A sower went out to sow his seed – and He is still sowing! The seed is the word of God. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot. These are ones who have heard – but – the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Our inborn sin is always the hardest part of the path. But the external cultural path is also trampled hard. In our day the father of lies seeks to snatch God’s Word from hearts by academic deceit that puts on airs to take advantage and enslave unsuspecting minds. Scholars and students read the Iliad by Homer and don’t doubt that he really wrote that book. Yet the strength of bibliographical tests on the Old and New Testament simply overwhelms this and other works. Objective investigation (not the spin of new atheists) shows no contest in number of manuscripts, nearness of earliest manuscripts to their source, and amazing accuracy of the manuscripts through centuries.


The cultural path in our day is also hardened to God’s Word by the nearly religious veneration accorded to anything called science or anyone called a scientist. This adoration is better termed “scientism.” It sadly disfigures the faith of many today. Scientism is naturalistic philosophy (a world view) masquerading as true science. It dominates media and campus making grand claims about time and genetic imagination and life forms never seen or fossilized. Not testable or repeatable or verifiable these grand claims are religiously accepted and aid Satan’s snatching of the Word of God that is sown. Make no mistake – Satan seeks to use the trendy acceptance of “scientism” to snatch also at your faith and that of family and classmates - faith in Christ and His words.


And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. These, hear the word, receive it with joy…but have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. Trials and testing of faith come to every Christian. Recall Jesus’ closing beatitude – Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets (Luke 6:22-23).


To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Knowing in faith the mystery of the Word made flesh and His words and the word of His sent ones surely leads to exclusion and spurning today. Power players are zealously at work to exclude Christians from many vocations for faithfully confessing God’s revelation about life and His gift of marriage. Christians are hated and labeled as hateful and bigoted themselves, for confessing the truth - especially the truth of salvation found alone in Christ. While the thirst for God’s Word is growing in some lands – disdain and even hatred for God’s Word is ascending in our land. God grant us to continue to receive His Word with joy. That alone strengthens our root and our desire to show Christ’s riches to the nations – nations now coming to our very door.


And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. These 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.

 

Notice how Jesus equates riches with thorns that can choke out faith. That’s not a popular view of wealth and net worth and the accumulation of things! Not only painful persecution but also prized possessions and the pleasures they give can tempt us as an enemy. The cares of the world can smother faith in Christ. Not riches themselves but the corrupted use of them as if they were our own and not God’s gift. In the Gradual we prayed that God would make our enemies like whirling dust and like chaff before the wind. Surely God’s revelation to return cheerful gifts to Him that are first in importance and proportionate to our blessings helps us see riches as passing and not primary – not the true treasure!


And some fell on good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold. As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” In this final case the Word is heard and held in perseverance. 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.”


That is the reason Jesus commanded all nations to be baptized and planted Himself in you at your baptism. That is the reason He calls those baptized into fellowship with Him and one another – to gather regularly in His name to hear the Word of God – to receive His ministry. That is the reason the early church saw the Sacraments as the holy mysteries of God – because therein Jesus is present with His Word of forgiveness – continually creating new hearts. To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.


Those who bear fruit in maturity do so because Christ is in them and they are in Him. To the church at Colossae Paul wrote of the mystery hidden for ages…but now revealed to his saints – the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, (among you) the hope of glory (Col. 1:26-27). Later in his 2nd letter to the Church at Corinth St. Paul states it this way: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor. 13:4-5)


The parable of the Sower calls for such testing. Jesus means for you to examine the soil of your heart. The four different responses to hearing the Word of God make only a twofold division. There are those who receive the Word in faith and persevere and those in unbelief – never receiving the word or losing faith through persecution or the press of worldly things and cares.

 

Examination of our hearts is not a desired task. For it is not difficult to see Satan’s snatching temptations at work – targeting our weaknesses. It is not difficult to sense that we would prefer to avoid rejection and ridicule from the rising pressure on those confessing Christ. It is not difficult to know thorns of coveting and worry and wrongful desires infest our hearts. While St. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being too elated by the visions God granted him – recognizing the sinful thorns threatening to choke our faith is also God given revelation for our eternal good.


You see the one thing needed in Isaiah’s sweet summons to drink without cost – is thirst – the sinners thirst for God – for peace with God. Come, everyone who thirsts. The only need is recognizing one’s great need and believing God’s suffering servant meets it – all we like sheep have gone astray – the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. It seems when we see clearly our shallow fear of persecution and the choking thorns of worldly care and know the weakness that dwells within us God has us exactly where He can help us and quench our thirst. Come everyone who thirsts. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


The Sower does not look for good soil. He simply sows and sows and His Word creates the good soil. In farming and gardening it doesn’t work that way, but in the kingdom of God it does. To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

 

Beloved the mystery is Jesus - the seed that dies and bears fruit yielding not just a hundredfold, but uncountable saints! He is the good seed that has created good soil in you. Risen from the grave, He puts on no airs in our midst. The victory is His – His alone. He sows the peace of His sacrificial death – His shed blood - into your ears even now – that His Word keep dropping into your heart the gift of faith. Even now - He gives bread to the eater – bread that is His very body - packed with the life and salvation of Him who was packed with your sin and death on Calvary. He does not return to God empty but carries you with Him. Rain and snow water the earth and return through evaporation. Jesus did not evaporate from this thirsty world – He ascended bodily in triumph with all the authority of God’s right hand and even now He intercedes for you according to God’s gracious will. His grace is sufficient for you.

 

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom 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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