Sermon for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, July 10, 2011
Sowers Go Out to Sow (Matthew 13:1-8;18-23)
Vicar Christopher Stout

Summer is here and all the signs that point to it. It’s hot and humid outside, the old vicar dog is leaving and the new vicar puppy is coming, and our Lord Jesus is preaching in parables. Parables can be mistakenly viewed as stories that all can easily understand and get the point. The truth is far from that. Jesus’ parables are meant for the one who has ears to hear. That’s Scriptures way of saying, “He who has faith, let him hear.”  Parables reveal truths about God and His Kingdom. God doesn’t reveal the truth to the wise and understanding, but for those who recognize that before Him, they are dependent little children (Matt. 11:25).

These are the truths of the Kingdom of God. "A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them” (Matt. 13:3-7). This parable is about God’s Word and how it is received. It’s a hard truth, a hard reality, but for us in the midst of this struggling world, it isn’t surprising because we see it. 

Sermon for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, July 10, 2011
Sowers Go Out to Sow (Matthew 13:1-8;18-23)
Vicar Christopher Stout

Summer is here and all the signs that point to it. It’s hot and humid outside, the old vicar dog is leaving and the new vicar puppy is coming, and our Lord Jesus is preaching in parables. Parables can be mistakenly viewed as stories that all can easily understand and get the point. The truth is far from that. Jesus’ parables are meant for the one who has ears to hear. That’s Scriptures way of saying, “He who has faith, let him hear.”  Parables reveal truths about God and His Kingdom. God doesn’t reveal the truth to the wise and understanding, but for those who recognize that before Him, they are dependent little children (Matt. 11:25).

These are the truths of the Kingdom of God. "A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them” (Matt. 13:3-7). This parable is about God’s Word and how it is received. It’s a hard truth, a hard reality, but for us in the midst of this struggling world, it isn’t surprising because we see it. 

This is what the Kingdom of God looks like. Our Lord is ridiculously generous is His giving of His gifts and love and forgiveness. For this sower, there seems to be no lack of seed. Yet, our Lord comes in ways that are mysteriously lowly and weak and resistible. There’s outright rejection of God and His love and His forgiveness amongst our family and our friends and so many we love in this world. Our Lord is describing a reality of so much unbelief in this world and it’s a reality that touches us in very personal and familial ways. This is the truth of God’s Word, of God’s Kingdom, and how frustrating all of it can be.

Sowers go out to sow. Our Lord Jesus is the sower who comes to you now to sow the seed of His Word. Seeds are scattered as you confess to others that you, right along with them, are a sinner and in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Seeds are scattered as you point another to the Lord’s Supper where Christ is present to deliver to you the gifts that His death accomplished for all; a death for your life and for your freedom and for theirs, too.

Seeds do work. Living faith is present in this dying world. That’s our Lords promise in this parable. “Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear" (13:8). How it works, we have no idea. That it works is all we need to know. God’s Word never returns empty; always accomplishing the purpose for which God sowed it (Isaiah 55:10-11). Jesus preaches, Jesus sows this morning and faith is given and strengthened.

As He preaches this parable, He is not chiding you for your bad soil and unbelief. Jesus’ main emphasis is to answer the question that the disciples had for Him and that we still ask Him; “Lord, if you offer your grace and love for all, if the kingdom of God is for everyone, if you are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, why is there still so much rejection and unbelief? What are You doing wrong?  What am I doing wrong?”

The answer is not found in bad seed, in bad Word of God. The answer is found in the danger of the devil, the danger of human shallowness and sinfulness, and the danger of worldly worries. Our Lord preaches a reality we see so clearly around us today. 

Though Jesus is not preaching a “be good soil or else” sermon, He is, however, warning of the great many things that do surround us and wish to destroy our faith. We should take seriously the threat of Satan, but how can we defeat such an enemy?  We should take seriously that we cannot and should not look to ourselves, to our own soil, in times of doubts and guilt as we will quickly realize how shallow we are, but don’t we do that by nature?  We should take seriously how wealth and common, everyday worry can choke out God’s Word and our faith, but how can we avoid that?  We should take these as seriously as life and death. “12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:12-13).

Paul and Jesus are issuing serious warnings, but are even more serious about where your hope and foundation and rest and life are found. Your hope is in the sower who for us men and our salvation went out to sow. Your foundation is the only One who has perfect soil. Your life and rest are found in the seed which is present doing the only thing that it knows how to do in giving you assurance and forgiveness. The evil one has not snatched what God sowed and watered in your heart in Baptism. You have been baptized into the good soil of Golgotha in the death of Christ.          

Hear then this parable, a sower went out to sow. That’s what the purpose of a sower is; it’s even in the name. God became man and His name was to be Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). That’s the purpose of this Jesus; it’s even in His name. This parable is told by Jesus in the midst of a great crowd, but His final saving His people from their sins purpose will be accomplished in being forsaken by all the crowd, all His followers and even by the Lord of Life Himself (Matt. 27:46). God the Father is slow to anger (Ps. 103:8) because of the full wrath that was poured out on Jesus in that steadfast act of love on Calvary. God sent forth His Word in the flesh for you, and His Word always accomplishes that which He purposed (Isaiah 55:10-11), giving you life with His death.    

Sowers go out to sow and Jesus comes to you even now to preach to you and plant His seed and give the seed its growth. His word does not come back empty but brings you back with it, brings you to Himself for Him to feed you and sustain you in the midst of the danger of bird, shallow root, and choking thorns. A sower goes out to sow and Jesus keeps coming to us. Thanks be to God for the constancy of the Sower and His seed. 

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