“Jesus Sows Generously”
Paul Norris, Vicar
St. Luke 8.4-15
20 February 2022
Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Among us, the Word of God holds a special place. We cherish his Word because this is how God comes to us. What does God’s Word do? It is the very power of creation (Gen 1), and It’s by hearing God’s Word that the Holy Spirit gives us faith. (Rom 10:17) It’s how God comes to us today. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus tells us that the seed is his Word. We are sure and confident of this because this is what our Lord Jesus has said about it in scripture, but the Devil also knows this.
The Devil would like nothing more than to take the Word of God from you. Even in God’s perfect creation, the Devil was already actively working against the Word of God. In the book of Genesis, the Devil asks the very first question ever recorded in history, “Did God really say…” (Gen 3:1) This is the Devil’s oldest and most used lie.
With a cursory viewing of the “History” Channel, you will be bombarded by programs that either question the veracity of Scripture, or claim that some “New Gospel” has been found which contradicts the canon of Holy Scripture. Some even speculate that the divine works of God described in Scripture are the work of space aliens. All are lies from the Devil himself. Along with this lie is the “Woke” narrative which the Devil uses to twist and pervert the Word of God. Satan has not abandoned his ancient lie, and he still attempts to try to destroy God’s Word. The Devil will outrightly try to subvert the Word of God and take it away. This is the seeds that fell upon the path and were trampled underfoot and snatched up by the birds. ( Luke 8:5)
But the Devil is more cunning than just an all-out visible assault on the Word of God. He knows that God’s children cherish God’s Word. They read it, learn and inwardly digest it. The devil tries to take the Word of God from you in a cunning way – distraction. The Devil does not want us to meditate on the Word of God. How many of us have multiple copies of the Bible? Perhaps we even have it on our phones or tablets. It does not matter how many copies of it we have, or the speed at which we can access God’s word if we don’t read it, and hear it. How many of us were distracted and suffered a wandering mind during the reading of the lessons this morning? The devil tries to distract us by sending misery and suffering into our lives to make us forget what God says, promises, and does. This is the seed that fell among the rocks. (Luke 8:6)
In the parable of the Sower, some of the seeds fell among the thorns. Jesus said that the thorns were the riches and pleasures of worldly life. This is another way the Devil attempts to get us to abandon God’s Word. This is probably the most dangerous temptation for Christians. Old Adam loves the things and the possessions of this world. What the Devil would like to do is have us forget from whom all our earthly possessions and necessities come. We are tempted to forget that it is God himself that provides our daily bread. So, instead of receiving it in thanksgiving to God, we begin to think that we are the masters of our financial destinies and lives.
These thorns and weeds have an effect on our faith and our lives in Christ together. Martin Luther wrote, “These people cannot say that they have the Holy Spirit; they are the Devil’s own. He is their master. He reaches into their hearts and plucks out the Word. The result is their perversities: they are disobedient, dishonest, self-centered, proud, implacable, and greedy; they want everybody to be subservient to them, while they are unwilling to serve anyone. In contrast, where the Word remains in the heart and people diligently ponder it, there it fashions hearts which are pure, obedient, faithful, selfless, ready to help, humble and gentle.” (CSoML Vol. V pg. 287)
Instead of keeping our prayers and thanksgiving focused on God, we are entranced by material possessions of the world and led away from the Church and God’s Word. In place of being thankful for what God has provided for us, we covet what our neighbor has. We foolishly try to store up things that perish instead of holding fast to that which is eternal; The Word of God in Christ Jesus. A wise man once told me; “There are no trailer hitches on funeral hearses.” The dangers of all these temptations which redirect our attention from Jesus and his Word have eternal significance and threaten death and hell even to good Christians. Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
I know that many of us upon hearing the parable of the Sower think about the soil and try to place ourselves within the parable. Which soil am I? I am sure that many who are here can identify with all of the different soils at different times in their lives. But Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not about the soil. We are all bad soil! Becoming a Christian does not make you good soil. This parable is not about you, or anything you can do.
Those that have been attending adult Sunday School may recognize this as the Semi-Pelagian heresy. The Semi-Pelagianism heresy simplified states that a person has something to contribute to his or her salvation. This usually means that the prospective Christian has to offer some sort of decision, prayer, or generate faith from within themselves to receive salvation.
This is false as God clearly tells us in Scripture that we were “…dead in our trespasses and sin.” (Eph 2:1) Dead people cannot make decisions. Dead people cannot pray or contribute any good works. “…you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” (Col 2:13) God in Christ Jesus has done it all for us, and believing faith is a gift that comes from the Holy Spirit. This parable is about the Sower and the seed that is sown. It is God’s planting. Christ sows the Word of God, and Christ Jesus becomes the good soil for us. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17) Jesus Christ does it all. In Christ, we die to ourselves and this world and arise to new life in him.
And how good is the good soil of Christ? So good that it will yield a hundredfold! In ancient times farmers would’ve been thankful to get a twentyfold yield. This means that on every acre that they planted a bushel of wheat seed and they hoped to get twenty bushels of the crop which grew from that seed on that acre. Modern farmers are thankful when they get a fortyfold yield on their wheat crops. A hundredfold yield is not an exact number, but it represents an impossibly high yield that no farmer can ever achieve. Nothing is as profitable as God’s word! This parable is not about the soil, it is all about how great the Sower and his seed is. If there is no seed, there is no fruit and no crop. Good soil without the seed produces nothing.
Another thought we have as we hear this parable is, “Isn’t the Sower being a little haphazard with the seed?” I think modern farmers would balk at the thought of throwing seed indiscriminately across their land. After all, the seed is expensive, and they would only want to sow it where it will grow and be profitable. In our text, the Sower, Jesus, is not as careful with the seed. Jesus is not looking to maximize his crop, yet sowing the seed of God’s Word, (Preaching the Word) is never wasted seed. Jesus is not into a show of numbers, Jesus loves all people and sows his seed everywhere, even the hard places. The seed is the Word and all can have the Word, for Christ Jesus died for the whole world. (John 3:16, Heb 2:17) Jesus sows generously through his preaching and continues to do so through the reading and preaching of His Word. This parable gives comfort to all pastors and anyone who shares the Word of God with others. Though they sow God’s word generously over all types of hearers, God gives the growth and he is the changer of hearts. God alone does the work of salvation in people. He does this through the Holy Spirit working through the preaching and hearing of His Word.
What seed has more value than what was bought for us by Christ’s death upon the cross? The world has nothing as valuable as the Word of God. The same Word of God at the beginning of creation is still with us today. Cling to the Word of God for all it is worth even when it puts you at odds with the seeming reality of earthly life or what you think of yourself! We are all sinners, but we are sinners with a substitute. On the cross, Jesus became the curse of sin for you and he is your propitiation.
The Devil has no power over you. He would just like you to think he does. Because of Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, the Devil cannot use death to make you afraid. In your baptism, you were buried into the death of Jesus Christ, and you were raised again with him in his resurrection. Cling to the cross of Christ with the faith which has been given to you by the Holy Spirit through the hearing of the Word of Christ. God’s Word continues to be planted in you as you hear the lessons, meditate on God’s Word, and eat his Holy Supper. What God has promised in his Word is reality, and it will not come back empty! (Isaiah 55:11) We have no greater need than what God has given to us in his Word – We have everything we need in the Word that was sown.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.