Archive for the ‘Matthew 13:1-9’ Category

Kingdom Sowing and Kingdom Reaping

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Pentecost, July 10th, 2011
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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INTRODUCTION: Imagine that you are part of a large crowd gathered on the shore of a lake; you’re there to hear Jesus speak and teach about the Kingdom of God.  Jesus is seated in a boat that’s tethered to the shore and He begins speaking.  You can hear Him clearly, because the water acts as a natural amplifier.  As He’s speaking, He notices a farmer scattering seed in a field not far from you, so He points to this activity and says: “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched.  And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grains, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.” [Matt. 13:3-9] 

This morning we will use our ears to hear a message about the Kingdom of God; a Kingdom of sowing and reaping.  This morning we must first see Jesus in this message and then we must see ourselves.  Dear friends, this is a message about God and it is message about you!  Do not worry if it is a message about your spouse, your children or your neighbor, but for now receive it as a message about only God and you. 

I. This story is about God in this way.  God the Father is the Sower in the story, because it is He alone who gives the seed to the sower and bread to the eater.  It is He alone who determines how His Word goes out and what it will accomplish.  And it is the Father who promises that His Word will not return to Him empty or void, but it will accomplish His will and His purpose.  It will do what He has declared it will do! [Isaiah 55:11] 

God the Son is the seed.  He is God in our flesh, the very seed of Eve who was promised to come and defeat our true enemies sin, death, and the devil.  God the Son Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God that proceeds from the mouth of the Father to accomplish the will of the Father.  And what is that will?  It is that where sin and death once ruled in the hearts of men, new and eternal life would take its place.  Where fear of the wrath and anger of God once filled the hearts and minds of sinful people, forgiveness and peace with a God of love would take its place! 

God the Holy Spirit is the producer of the good and fertile soil; a soil that will produce much grain and good fruit.  He does this through the creative work of the Father’s sowing, the fertile seed of the Son who is the Living Word of God, and He does it while driving off the birds that pluck the seed.  The birds that try to destroy and stop the will of the Father are the devils.  They are a bunch of idiots, because they ignore our Old Testament reading that assures us that God’s Word and His will cannot be prevented. 

II. And now this is where you come in… you are the bad soil.  You are the broad path where God’s good seed fell and never took root because you allowed the devil to take that seed.  Broad is the way that leads to hell and judgment, but narrow is the path that leads to everlasting life!  But you are also the rocky soil, because there have been times when you gladly heard and read the Word, why you even tried to follow it, but as soon as trials and sacrifice became part of your life in Christ, you fell away!  Now, God’s Word isn’t done yet, for you see you are also the ground that is covered in thorns!  You need to understand that there have been times in your life when the cares of this world and the temptations of our society have pulled you away from your walk of faith with God; maybe that time is right now?!  When that happens, you become guilty of breaking the very first commandment; you leave the Living God in order to chase after an idol that promises happiness of the flesh instead of spiritual and eternal joy.  

Now this would be a miserable message if it ended here, but it doesn’t!  You see, this has never been about you, it has always been about God, who is not only the Sower and the Seed, but He is also the Creator of the soil, a soil that is your new nature.  In your baptism God the Holy Spirit created new and fertile soil within your heart; a heart that use to be deceitful, and full of rocks and thorns.  Through the power of His Word, He has spoken new life in you, and you are able to produce heavenly grain and fruit.  How can this be?  Well to understand this parable you must receive the mystery that is the Kingdom of God.  A mystery which declares that through the work of God, the Kingdom of God exists within you and around you.  A mystery that invites you to no longer identify yourself with just the soil, but with the Sower and the Seed. 

III. How does this happen?  It happens when we agree with God’s Word, specifically verse 12 of our Epistle lesson, which states that we are debtors.  Another way to say this is to say we are beggars.  We must agree with God that our true life or our new and spiritual life exists entirely outside of ourselves; we must agree that without God’s work of Sower and Seed we would be lost in sin and subject to the attacks of the devil, which can only lead to eternal death.  We need to agree with God that in order to keep this new eternal life and hold onto the promise of the resurrection we must live to satisfy the spiritual desires of our new nature, and we must also put the sinful flesh to death!  We do this when we remember that we are debtors, people who owe our very existence to God the Father who created both our bodies and our new nature, God the Son who redeemed, that is rescued our bodies from the penalty of our many sins, and God the Holy Spirit who is continually remaking us into the image of God and assuring us that no one can interfere with the will of the Father who desires that none shall perish, but all would have eternal life! 

You know, in our own community right outside the doors of this sanctuary are thousands of people separated from God, and dying in their sins. God wants us to know that that kind of life style only brings death.  But He also wants us to have the same compassion for them that He has demonstrated to us.  He wants us to share His message of the kingdom with them, the same message He is giving to us this morning!  What’s that message?  It’s this: “if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live!” [Vs. 13]  God wants us to explain to our neighbors in word and action, that there is a living that brings only death and there is a dying that brings life, or a dying that continually makes us alive.  He wants us to explain to them, that it is only with our spirit then that we can hear God’s Word, agree with that Word, and then follow Him as He daily provides new life.  This is what we might call the rhythm of a Kingdom life style.  And the beat of that rhythm comes to us only through God’s Word, a Word of Law and Gospel.  If they like us are living out this rhythm, then they too will become fertile soil, and used in God’s Kingdom of sowing and reaping! 

What each of us must remember is that the proper work of God’s Law is to remind us that on our own, we will only encounter sin and separation from God, a separation that leads to eternal death.  That’s what God’s law is suppose to do; it’s purpose is to turn us from our sins and into His forgiving love through the cross of Jesus Christ, and there we cry out to Him, “God have mercy on me a miserable sinner!”  This is our confession; it’s the cry of a heart that wants to know God’s forgiveness personally!  And when this cry of fear and agony is true, then the gospel enters into our heart and speaks life!  Where once there was only dead rocky ground, covered with thorns and thistles, suddenly there is new fertile soil that is created through the absolution, the forgiveness of sins.  And when a heart that is heavy burdened with sin hears that Jesus Christ through the work of the cross removed that burden so that it may forever have peace with God, it has a new cry; it cries out, “Abba! Father!”  “The Spirit (the producer of good soil within our hearts) Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” [Vs14-16]  What is it we are heirs to?  What have we inherited?  Well that is part of the mystery of the Kingdom of God; you see we have inherited all of the treasures of Heaven and one day soon we will be glorified with Him!  We have been assured of a place of honor in heaven with Jesus! [Vs. 17]  We have the honor of working alongside of Him as He sows and reaps! 

CONCLUSION: How can we be assured that all of this is ours?  By agreeing with God that His Word is true and His will that is taught to us in that Word can never be defeated!  What is that will?  That you would repent, that is turn to Jesus Christ and be saved.  How do we turn to Jesus?  We turn to Jesus every day when we suffer and die with Him by putting to death our old sinful nature and allow our new nature that He provided in our baptism to become stronger every day! 

I’d like to close with a story about a wise old man who people sought out for answers.  One day, a smart-alecky teenager came to him with his hands covering something he was holding. He told the old man that he had a small, newly hatched bird in his hands. He challenged the old man to tell him whether the bird was alive or dead. Of course, he planned on embarrassing the old man; if the old man said the bird was dead, he would simply open his hands to expose a perfectly healthy baby bird. But if he said the bird was alive, then he would crush the bird before opening his hands. Well, the old man was wiser than that young man thought, because this is the answer the old man gave, “The bird is whatever you choose him to be.” 

And that’s the way we live in the rhythm of God’s kingdom. Will we die to live with Jesus or will we live for this world, only to die to God’s love?  May God continue to help each of us rest in His presence and work within us and around us, and then share that message with our neighbors; I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!