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Archive for July 15th, 2014

Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,  who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 Text:  St.  Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The parable of the Sower is about the Sower.  A sower sows seed and he did so in a rather liberal manner by just casting the seed all over the place, all over the earth. The sower’s seed is the “word of the Kingdom”, the Word of God’s reign. After all, the Father causes His rain to fall on the just and the unjust. After all every Word that proceeds from God, every Word of the Bible, by His Word every man can live.  Jesus asked the disciples, Who do men say that I am?  Some say one of the prophets, some say John the Baptist…The Sower is not sowing men’s words, men’s opinions about God, man made theologies and religions, but the Word of the Kingdom, God’s reign, His Church.  Jesus already taught the disciples to pray, Thy Kingdom Come. God’s Kingdom, His Reign through, with and under His Son Jesus Christ will come without our prayer but in this prayer petition we pray it comes also among us day by day, as Luther taught in the catechisms. Nations and kingdoms rule by force and sadly sometimes by  the love of force. The Lord’s reign comes by the force of His love which is grace and peace for burdened sinners.  Jesus reiterated John the Baptist’s sermon:  The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and  believe the good news.  The Church is Jesus’ seed company.

The Lord teaches that the  seed as the word of the Kingdom.  What is that word?  It is the Word of the Cross.  The reign of God does not come by glory but by suffering, the Cross. Seeds can only grow by being buried  in the soil.  Men and women are dead in His crucifixion and rise by the power of His indestructible life.  Hard-scrabble sinners seizing in faith Jesus Christ for the water of forgiveness in Baptism.  Into that hard-scrabble field He sent and went with His disciples, Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the eons.  He sent His disciples into a creation in “bondage to corruption”, as it is written in Romans, to spread the Word.  Amidst our own sin and sorrow, fightings and fears within and without, He has planted His Word, His seed.  Just think of the church throughout the world, His field in severe oppression in Islamic nations, in China, in Africa:  flourishing with enemies all about. The soil that is good is the soil that knows it cannot produce a plant, it needs a seed, good seed, from the Sower’s hand, His nail imprinted Hand, the Word of God’s grace and peace in Jesus Christ.  In His hand are the depths of the earth, His hands formed the dry land. Good soil knows it is soil.  The root word of “humility” is “humus”, soil.  Other soils, other people, other souls just won’t get it.

The Pharisees accused Jesus as a man healing people by the power of “Beelzebul, the prince of demons”.  Just before that charge, it is reported in Matthew 12: 14 that the Pharisees “…went out and conspired against Him, how to destroy Him.”  In chapter 11 the Lord’s cousin, John the Baptist had sent his disciples who did not really get it that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.  Two cities of which Jesus did many great deeds were unrepentant.  The times were hard and so was the soil. And here in chapter 13 sprouting up is our Lord’s Sermon of Parables: three quarters of them are all about seeds and plants growing.  This is what the reign of the Lord is like.  “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”  1 Corinthians 15:  43

A seed in the ground growing. Sown in weakness.  Sown in death.  Against amazing all odds. Even malicious enemies. There is no moral law which makes a seed grow.

Along the beaten path, the road very traveled, that every Tom, Dick and Harry walks, the easy path that leads to destruction,  the devil comes along and snatches the seed of the Word of God’s reign.  Others, will fall on rocky ground and the Word is received with joy but something goes wrong or someone makes fun of the person’s new faith, it withers and dies.   Then the thorns of the “cares of this world”, and “deceitfulness of riches” chokes “the word” and there is no fruit.  His teaching here to the crowd is also guide to the harvest in the Lord’s reign of what to look out for in tending the fields.  The crowd goes down that easy path to destruction, not to tag along.  Yes, there will be tribulations, but behold, as He said, You will have troubles in this world, but behold, I have overcome the world…and wealth’s deceitfulness, it deceives with false security. But in the good soil Jesus taught the seed will produce a harvest, bountiful and green.  The Lord sends forth His Word like the rain and the snow and He purposes for it His will for us and our salvation.  The Lord numbers the harvest, 100, 60 or 30 bushels of grain, not us. The Lord  does this,

“…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.” 

Those who understand the Word and to understand the Word one stands under the Word, not over it.  If some preacher, preaching something about Jesus says, If you just have really strong faith, then your will have fill in the blank, usually wealth, health and power, then I would be fancying myself a faith that I stand over God’s Word. Faith is not about getting what we want, but receiving what the Lord gives:  His grace, mercy and peace for us all. The sower is not efficient in his sowing technique, called “broadcast sowing”.  He broadcasts the Word of the Kingdom with liberal abandon and those who get it marvel that His Word would grow in them, and ever more marvel at the wonders of His generosity and grace.  The broadcast continues.  He who has ears, let him hear, Jesus tells the crowd.  He is still working the crowd, actually, working the soil. His will is that all come to the knowledge of the truth.  In Matthew chapter 11, He invites, Come to Me all who are burden and heavy laden.  In chapter, five, “The poor in spirit are blessed, because the reign of heaven is theirs!”  Jesus will work the soil in it’s  hardness, thorns and rocks.  As a grain of wheat, proclaimed Jesus, remains alone, until it is planted in the soil and dies and comes to life again, it can not bear much fruit.  The Word made flesh is the Word of the reign of God planted in His Cross for us all. His death is our death, the death of the deeds of the body and the Holy Spirit makes alive His Church, His people, His soil, His souls, as He is risen from the dead.  I am the vine you are the branches, without Me you can do nothing..

Is it not written that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit? Faith is, then, a poverty of spirit, a hunger and thirst, a poor, empty heart opening toward God so that He can put His grace into it. When God bestows His grace upon us, we are born anew and become partakers of the new life.(Bp.Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God)

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