Sexagesima – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Luke 8:4-15 “The Seed in Good Soil”
February 4, 2024 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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Almighty God, merciful Father, we give You most hearty thanks for Your divine Word, which You are pleased to sow as a heavenly seed among us and we humbly ask You that by Your Word and Spirit You would make our hearts a good ground, guard us against the dangers arising from cares and riches and the pleasures of this life, and keep our faith from being uprooted by the blasts of affliction, that in an honest and good heart we may bring forth abundant fruit; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Lutheran Liturgy, companion altar book for The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 81)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 8th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into 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.”
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who is the Word made flesh and continues to speak to us through His blessed Word, who is the reason we read, mark, and learn it because He is the Way of Eternal Life, dear fellow redeemed:
As we heard Jesus speaking to the crowd this parable, He uses a message that looks easy to understand. Jesus is using earthly things that we see every day. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.” The markings of a rural area in which we live. Planting seed, tending to it, praying to God that it is protected from the birds, weed, and drought. As this parable is one of caution with so many dangers to the seeds that are planted, Jesus brings comfort to those who hear the Word of God. “And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.”
This is the best news for any farmer to hear. To hear that the seed “yielded a hundredfold”. People of Jesus day would have loved to hear that as well. Jesus however is not speaking to them about the art of sowing seeds in a field. He gives them a picture that they know so well. Yet as we know His parables, it is teaching them about something that they do not understand. It is joyous that Jesus cared so much about the people that He would give them all these parables! So, He told them about this sower. With this sower, Jesus is giving the crowd a gracious truth, the planting of the Word of God.
The people of Jesus’ day shouldn’t have needed such teaching about the Word of God. They have a very rich history. “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old…” (Psalm 44:1). Their rich history is one of waiting. Waiting in the presence of God. The people had Moses and the Prophets. The people still had Moses and the prophets. Not only did they hear about how God guided their descendants from Egypt, through the wilderness, into the promise land, but they also heard all the prophecies regarding One who would come and save them. Like their ancestors, they also have had trouble hearing. Jesus tells them about the road with the birds, the rocks, and the thorns because in the same way their forefathers failed to listen, they also have failed.
Is Jesus’ harsh warning fitting for those who are listening to what He is saying? “As He said these things, He called out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'” He is telling the people how God’s Word goes out to them as they are currently hearing it now in Jesus’ teaching. They have always heard it. So why does it fail to sprout? Jesus tells the people all the ways in which they ignore the Word. They have allowed Satan to tempt them and eat the Word. When they are tested, they fall away. And as Jesus points out with other parables, the riches of this world and all it has to offer is enough to consume them. So, Jesus calls out for them to hear it, but many close their ears to what is difficult.
It is easy for us to close our ears even when Jesus gives that loud call for us to hear. As we just heard, the Word that Jesus is speaking is nothing new. We are hearing the same warnings and the same Gospel message that Israel of old heard and witnessed. And what Jesus tells us in the parable still applies to us. When temptation, trials, and pleasures surround us, we can be so quick to throw out the Word of God and not allow the seed to grow because it is too difficult, or it doesn’t suit our desires. St. Paul writes about what he dealt with in his life. “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned…” (2 Corinthians 11:24-25a). What a list of problems that Paul gives with the ending ringing out to those who follow the path to be leaders in the church. “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). When all these problems arise, it is the Word we often throw away that we need most.
Jesus stresses the need for this seed when He tells the disciples that, “The seed is the word of God.” Jesus isn’t speaking in parables to hide it from the people. The point of the parable is that they are neglecting it already. So, Jesus in His love points out the errors of the people. He warns them that God’s Word can be snuffed out. Does He give people comfort? Of course He does! It is at the end of the parable where the people learn about the seed that lands on the good soil. Good soil is prepared by the Spirit. History tells how the Spirit has worked faith with some who didn’t throw it away and believed. God told Elijah, “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).
As a remnant was carried through time, hearing the Word of God, Jesus is teaching the Word so that the seed does fall on good soil. Good soil that is produced through people first hearing that they have sinned against God. As Jesus continues to preach about repentance and some hear and hold onto the Word and repent, the seed takes root. It takes root because the soil realizes that it is in need. The seed gives the message to hold fast to what is heard because it is a message of salvation. The people were blessed to hear and see what God was doing for them. He was instructing them on the way they should go. To hold fast to Him and what He says is to have eternal life.
That is the joy and comfort that comes from the Gospel. Jesus explains, “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.” There are many who are worried, who say, “How do I know that I have good soil? I have fallen to what collects the seed whether it is birds, rocks, or thorns that choke it out. My heart doesn’t feel good.” It is these questions that Jesus is answering with this parable. There are many who will abandon the Word when they hear that they have failed, or they want to live their lives without it. Hearts become good not because they are good on their own, but by the Holy Spirit who comes and dwells in them through the hearing and holding fast of the Word. The seed grows as the soil hears all that God has done and then bears fruit.
The work of God is done for you. As this parable of course is meant to show your errors, it reveals to you the ways that the seed can be simply discarded. It is in those low points where you then hear how the seed grows. God tells you that where you have failed, your Savior has succeeded. Jesus doesn’t just hear the Word of God and obeys it perfectly; He is the Word made flesh. Made flesh for you so that He could comfort you in your problems, telling you that He has gone to the cross to die for your sins. Life can get so hard and make us think that Jesus’ Words mean nothing but it is in His Word that comfort is brought to you as you hear how it is all outside of you. The seed grows in good soil because the Spirit already makes the soil good for you. So, when you hear that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, your heart hears that no matter how hard this life gets, your future is eternal!
It is hard for us to imagine the joys of eternal life that Scripture records for us, when it just looks like we can barely get through this life. There are many who are struggling, yet they throw away the seed because they think they can’t have good soil. Some even think that the seed doesn’t do its job. God tells us that His Word works faith. “For 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” (Isaiah 55:10-11). When the birds gather, weeds sprout, and we think that the seed in us will die, God assures us that His seed when planted, it will take root. It doesn’t take root because of you. God plants it, waters it, and nourishes it. He causes it to sprout and hold us together as we hear of His great love in Jesus’ death on the cross for our salvation.
It is a beautiful thing that the Word of God is a Means of Grace providing forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. The love of God is found right in His Word. An epic account of history that expands from the beginning of creation and it applies even today. Jesus’ parable reveals how His Word is here and it takes root. There are many who will ignore the Word. They will reject it and the birds will eat, they will dry out on the rocks, and the thorns will choke it. Yet in its warning, hope is revealed that not all is lost. Good soil is created by the Spirit through hearing Jesus’ work on the cross which changes hearts. We find strength knowing that “The Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:25a). The Word takes root and is watered by Christ. As we stay in His Word and as Jesus says we hear it, then the comfort is all ours when He says, “And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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