SEXAGESIMA - FEB. 23RD, 2014
LUKE 8:4-15; 2 COR. 11:19-12:9; ISAIAH 55:10-13
HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear hearers of the Word made flesh: In keeping with the figure Jesus used in the parable of the sower, there are hellish birds swooping among the pews and pulpit – He who has ears to hear, let him hear These birds aren’t singing a song of God’s creative beauty as He made them to do.  These extremely active birds are Satan’s activity in snatching at the words Jesus speaks into your ears this morning (evening).  You know how it goes – “I’ve heard these texts so many times – not much for me here” – snatch!  St. Paul sure went negative about His suffering and persecution – which doesn’t seem very uplifting - I’ll just let those words go in one ear and out the other –– snatch!  So many today deny the truthfulness of the Bible – who really knows if Jesus said these words? – snatch!  I’ve so much homework to do – I can’t think about anything else except perhaps a Sunday afternoon nap – snatch!  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  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.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


Layers of stone and rock have also come with you into this house of worship.  Like little Narrah – you are a recipient of God’s grace in holy baptism.  What a wondrous, joyful gift! God has made you His own.  But these are difficult times and you’re not a little baby any more.  So be sure that whatever you take away from this sermon and service fits comfortably into your workplace and classrooms and relationships and conversations this week.  If you do this Christian thing carefully enough – no unbelievers need even know you confess Christ and His words!  Scorn for God’s revealed Word and hostility to the Christian faith are increasing.  With society’s shift in openly promoting sexual immorality - it’s important to know how keep your head down and your mouth shut.  Jesus surely wouldn’t want you to be poorly thought of or badly spoken of or wrongly treated by others.  And the ones on the rock 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.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

SEXAGESIMA - FEB. 23RD, 2014
LUKE 8:4-15; 2 COR. 11:19-12:9; ISAIAH 55:10-13
HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear hearers of the Word made flesh: In keeping with the figure Jesus used in the parable of the sower, there are hellish birds swooping among the pews and pulpit – He who has ears to hear, let him hear These birds aren’t singing a song of God’s creative beauty as He made them to do.  These extremely active birds are Satan’s activity in snatching at the words Jesus speaks into your ears this morning (evening).  You know how it goes – “I’ve heard these texts so many times – not much for me here” – snatch!  St. Paul sure went negative about His suffering and persecution – which doesn’t seem very uplifting - I’ll just let those words go in one ear and out the other –– snatch!  So many today deny the truthfulness of the Bible – who really knows if Jesus said these words? – snatch!  I’ve so much homework to do – I can’t think about anything else except perhaps a Sunday afternoon nap – snatch!  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  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.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


Layers of stone and rock have also come with you into this house of worship.  Like little Narrah – you are a recipient of God’s grace in holy baptism.  What a wondrous, joyful gift! God has made you His own.  But these are difficult times and you’re not a little baby any more.  So be sure that whatever you take away from this sermon and service fits comfortably into your workplace and classrooms and relationships and conversations this week.  If you do this Christian thing carefully enough – no unbelievers need even know you confess Christ and His words!  Scorn for God’s revealed Word and hostility to the Christian faith are increasing.  With society’s shift in openly promoting sexual immorality - it’s important to know how keep your head down and your mouth shut.  Jesus surely wouldn’t want you to be poorly thought of or badly spoken of or wrongly treated by others.  And the ones on the rock 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.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


A great crowd was gathering…people from town after town came to Jesus…Does the visible growth of this crowd mean the actual building of God’s kingdom?  Human wisdom says “yes” – look at the numbers – the numbers tell the story!  Jesus says – “open your ears – not your eyes” for faith comes by hearing and hearing through the speaking of Christ (Romans 10:17).  So Jesus kept raising His voice and calling out – He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


The disciples may have been anticipating one earthly victory after another.  Do it right – preach the truth and the people will come and they will believe and they will be saved.  Following Jesus seemed to promise wonderful, controllable, earthly results.  But Jesus says – “no.”  The 12 and the 72 He sends out with His Word will experience different responses.  Jesus describes four types of reaction to the Gospel – only one of which results in final salvation.  The truth is, this parable divides!   Response to the Word of God will be mixed.  Jesus actually names specific barriers to faith in Him. 


The third barrier He identifies is “the cares and riches and pleasures of life.”  Is it not remarkable how Jesus interprets riches and pleasures as being thorns?  Thorns in nature are prickly and cutting and outwardly repellent.  We avoid them.  Thorns in the field of faith, however, are soft and sensible and significant in life.  We embrace them.  Yet, obsession with the things of life can suffocate faith.  Not riches themselves, but the corrupted use of them as if they were our own and not God’s gift; confident trust in them as if they give ultimate security; coveting more and more of them controlling mind and heart.  And as for what fell among the thorns, 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.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear. 


Although Jesus sets forth four different responses to the Word of God, the division that He makes is only twofold.  Those who have the Word of God in their hearts will be saved and those who do not have it will be condemned.  These are the only two categories of human beings that God now reveals in Christ – not rich and poor – not  young and old – not one political party or another - not Jew and Gentile – not different races - for we are all of one blood.  There is only one division of mankind from sin and its wages of death in time and eternity.  It is found in receiving and retaining the Word of God which proclaims the Word made flesh!


Dear Christian, you must not trifle with this parable as though it were an indifferent thing or meant for someone else.  Jesus means it for you!  God’s command is not that you love Him a little but that you love Him with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength and with all your soul.  Repent!  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


Where ears do hear, Jesus’ words cut to the heart – dividing us from pride and false confidence!  Which of us is blind to the snatching temptations of Satan – even while we are in worship?  Which of us is not tempted to be a weathervane – turning this way or that to fit in with the blowing trends of culture rather than confess Christ at the cost of ridicule or persecution?  Do you readily see yourself like St. Paul – five times lashed – three times rod-beaten – once stoned – nights without sleep – days without food – suffering from cold and exposure – imprisoned – and all for speaking the Word of God?  Or, which of us have lives free from thorns of worry and wrongful thinking about money (the most common idol on earth) or free from sinful longings for ease and pleasure and position that we presume are owed us in this life?


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.  For all these reasons, the disposition of our native soil is not to hear the Word of God.  The sad truth is 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 is nonsense.  This parable teaches what is, not what ought to be.  It is therefore crucial that we consider also the fourth soil.  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.


As you consider whether you are this soil, hear how Jesus predicted His own death when 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 fruit yielding a hundredfold.  Marvelously, He is the good seed that creates the good soil.  In agriculture this doesn’t happen, but in the Kingdom of God it does!  In a holy mystery Jesus does in you what you cannot do in yourself!  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  Jesus is the Word that comes forth from the mouth of God as Isaiah proclaimed.   A sower went out to sow his seed.  The Church Father Chrysostom said – He who is present everywhere and fills all places WENT OUT – meaning into this life – into our flesh.  Because we sinners could not go to Him, He came out to us! 


In doing so – in accomplishing what God intends – it looked for a time like He returned to God empty!  The footpath into Jerusalem was pressed hard with the feet of men pursuing a different kind of Messiah.  As he hung naked in 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 sun.  The thorns of Genesis encircled His head in a crown of thorns. 


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 His corpse was planted in stone – sealed in a rock-hewn grave.  Even that rocky soil He burst through in the most fruitful life of forgiveness and peace!  The fruit of His cross and open tomb is not just a hundredfold but a harvest of uncountable saints, believers beyond number (Revelation 7) including you! 


A sower went out to sow!  There is no greater Sower than the Son of God!  He sows with reckless, generous broadcasting of God’s Word!  He sows on Sodom!  He sows on Pharaoh through Moses and Aaron!  He sows on cruel Nineveh through Jonah!  He sows on pagan Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian enchanters through Daniel and his companions!  He sows in season and out of season!  He does not look for the right kind of soil because there is none by nature!  He simply sows and sows!  His word transforms!  His word creates the good soil! 


He is sowing right now – into your ears – wanting His seed to keep dropping into your heart.  As Isaiah also said, he gives bread to the eater.  The bread He now gives is His very body.  Beloved, the seed of His Word is packed with His flesh and blood – dead and risen for you!  It is packed with the abundant life of Him who once was packed with your sin and death.  He accomplishes what God intends!  He does not return to God empty but carries you with Him as His bride – presenting you even now holy and blameless before heaven’s throne. 


God help us to receive and retain God’s Word and bring forth good fruit.  God help us to petition Him for the Holy Spirit whom the Father loves to give to those who ask.   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.  Do you have an honest heart?  An honest heart recognizes with sorrow that it is not a good heart in itself!  Daily repentance is central to the fruit that God’s Word bears in patience.  But an honest heart also recognizes in faith that despite the harassment of Satan and stony soil and thorns in the flesh – indeed – because of them – God says – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  An honest heart recognizes that only God is good and that it is His will to bestow all His goodness through His holy Son!  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


In the Name of Jesus, 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