Printable PDF: 7-26-2020 Pentecost 8 Sermon
Vicar Lindemann ~ Pentecost 8 ~ July 26, 2020 ~ Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9Whoever has ears, let them hear.”… 18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”
Jesus sows his Word on your heart
In this past year, I have learned all kinds of lessons from all kinds of different people. You have all come with your unique lessons for me, like you were sprinkling and sowing all different kinds of seeds on my soil for me to learn. Things you said, things you didn’t say, the way we had to maneuver through a global pandemic, the way you acted, the way you show your love to each other and to me. Consider all those lessons planted in me. God willing, I can take all those lessons with me for the rest of my life when I’m a pastor some day. I’ll never forget the amazing year I had with you here. In our parable for today, we have a different kind of seed sown on a different kind of field. Instead of many seeds sown in one spot, Jesus shows us one sower who sows his one kind of good seed onto many different places. The sower is Jesus, who sows his Word on your heart. Don’t let anyone take it, but hear it and believe it.
- Don’t let anyone take it. (verses 3-7 and 19-22)
This is the first of Jesus’ parables that we find in the Bible. Remember that a parable is a simple story that Jesus tells to teach the truth of God’s Word. In this parable, Jesus shows us a sower who takes his good seed out of his pouch and throws it everywhere on the ground. Jesus is the sower. The good news of his Word is the good seed. He gives his Word out to everyone! He sows his Word to people in the same way that we heard in the Old Testament lesson today, like rains that water the earth. Everywhere! Like this sower he gives the good news of his Gospel to everyone.
The good seed lands on the ground. The good news comes to people. The good news comes to hearts. In Jesus’ parable, the interaction between the seed and the ground is the same interaction between his Word and our hearts. The examples of the different kinds of soil are not for us to try to classify people according to which soil you might think a person is. The example of these different interactions between his Word and our hearts is a warning for each of us: Don’t let anyone take his word away from you.
Because many try to snatch it up, the first interaction between hearts and the Word that Jesus describes is the seed that falls on the path. The sower sows his seed and some of it lands on the path. The seed stays out of the ground that is too hard, and so the birds come and snatch it away. When God’s Word comes to a heart that doesn’t believe it, the devil snatches up the Word. 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.
In the next interaction, the sower sows some seed into the rocky places, like the rock beds next to the sidewalk. Some of the seed can find some soil to spring up quickly after a rain, but then when the sun beats on it, it shrivels up and dies quickly. This is when God’s Word lands on a heart, but when the scorching sun of troubles come, faith does not last. 20The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
The final warning is when the sower sows the seed into the thorns. The seed takes root, it grows up, but it is not a healthy plant because the thorns choke it out, and the weeds stop it from growing. This is what happens when a heart receives God’s Word, it grows faith, but anything in the world holds that faith back. And it can really be anything – anything from something distressing to something comforting. Those thorns that choke out faith could be worries or pleasures – whatever takes your eyes off Jesus. 22The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
When you consider these different ways that hearts interact with the Word, we don’t want any one of them to be us. But the truth is, our hearts have been each one of those unreceptive kinds of ground. By the sinful nature that we inherited from our parents at the beginning of each one of our lives, we were dead in sin. Our hearts were like that hard path that would not take in the Word of God, and the devil would take it away. Our hearts have also been like those rocky places. We say good things with our lips, but as soon as trouble comes we are tempted to give up quickly on our faith. When pressure comes against us to fall away from faith in Jesus, it seems like a very little chance that our hearts survive the heat. And our hearts have also been like the thorns. It is too easy to become distracted by the world. Even when our faith has been strong for a while, the world always has new ways to distract us. We get worried about disease or the sanity of our nation, and our faith is held back. Or we take comfort in the things we have and put confidence in ourselves, and it chokes out our faith.
Jesus gives us these examples so that we don’t let anyone take his Word away from us. How can we do that? We have already seen that if it’s up to us, something will come to take it away. The way to hold on to his word is to hear God’s Word and repent. Repentance keeps the dangers away. When you notice the Word of God slipping from your grasp, repent! When one of those dangers comes into your life, repent! And keep your eyes on Jesus. Let his word work in you to awaken you to those dangers and to heal your heart with the Gospel.
Jesus sows his Word on your heart. Don’t let anyone take his good word away from you. Those three warnings remind us of that. The final type of ground that Jesus uses to teach us in this parable is not a warning, but an encouragement – an encouragement planted in the Gospel that has come to each one of you. Jesus sows his Word on your heart. Hear it and believe it!
- Hear it and believe it! (verses 8-9, 23)
The final type of ground is the good soil. This is the ground that will receive the seed like it was designed, the seed will take root and grow and grow until it is a strong and healthy crop, way bigger than it started. And Jesus says that it describes this heart: 23But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Can we all count ourselves here? Have we always heard and understood God’s Word? The beautiful thing about understanding Jesus, is that you don’t have to know everything to understand him. Who can know everything about eternity, about the Trinity, and about the mind of God? That’s not what Jesus is talking about. But you hear the word and understand it when you believe in him, when you trust in Jesus, when you have faith in him. We understand God’s Word by faith. You don’t have to be as smart as God to believe Jesus’ words. So hear God’s Word! Believe it!
And when Jesus sows his word on your heart and you hear it and believe it, the Gospel works wonders on you. When warnings from God cut us to the heart, and Jesus shows us the ways that our hearts have been hard, he leads us to repent. And then he lifts us up and heals us. He forgives your sins. He has forgiven you for every hard-hearted action and suffered for it on the cross. And he rose again to change your heart. Your hearts are not hard paths or rocky places or thorny weeds because Jesus changes your heart to be like that good soil. The one who encourages you to hear his word and believe it has given you the faith to do it. The good news that Jesus loves you and forgives you plants itself in your heart and has produced amazing saving faith in you. He has sown his word on your heart and it is producing an overflowing crop of faith.
9Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Is that you? Do you have ears? Use them. Use them to hear and believe God’s Word. Here is Jesus sowing his Word on your hearts through your eyes and ears. Here are the secrets to the kingdom of God. Here is the Gospel that heals and saves your soul. It will not fall on deaf ears, but rather ears that love to hear and receive the wonders of God.
And God’s Word will not just produce a little bit in you, but as you keep on using your ears to hear and believe, he will produce in you a crop 30 or 60 or 100 times over. Keep on hearing and believing after your vicar leaves. Keep on hearing and believing as the world changes and people come in and out of your lives. Keep on believing even after you can’t hear anymore. And God will work his Word in you and in me, and make our faith grow and grow until he reunites us all again in heaven, gathered around his powerful Word.
I will never forget the lessons you have given me and the love you have shown to me. But even more important than that is that Jesus sows his Word on your heart. Don’t let anyone take it away. Many will try throughout the rest of your life, but keep your eyes on Jesus, always following his word to repentance. Hear and believe his Word. He has given you the great news of the Gospel. He has forgiven all your sins and has paradise ready for us to enjoy together. Amen.