Archive for the ‘Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43’ Category

The Good Seed and the Solid Rock

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Fifth Sunday in Pentecost, July 17th, 2011
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” [Matt. 13:30]

Let’s start our message this morning with a question!  If Casey Anthony were to walk through our doors next Sunday looking for a new church home, how would that make you feel?  Who is Casey Anthony?  Well she’s been almost the only name in the news for the last several months!  She is the young mother who was accused of killing her 3 year old daughter several years ago, and then trying to hide the body with one lie after another.  After a lengthy and very public trial, she was found not guilty by a jury of her peers.  In our judicial system that means that she is an innocent woman and she is to be afforded all of the rights that you enjoy!  So, I’ll ask you again, if she showed up here at Trinity next week how would you feel?  Would you accept and welcome her or would you judge her guilty and a threat to the rest of us here at Trinity?

 This morning we will be talking about bad seed, judgment, and the Kingdom of Heaven!  By the end of our message, it is God desire that you will let go of your fears about the evil that seems to threaten not just His Kingdom but our very salvation, and by faith trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ your solid rock of salvation!

In vs. 27 of our gospel reading, Jesus portrays a common emotion that each of us feels when we encounter evil; surprise!  Listen: “And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, (didn’t you) sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?”  With the explanation that Jesus latter gives, we know that the Master is Jesus, the field is the world, and the seed that grows wheat and weeds are both good and bad people, we might say along with the servants, “Hey, aren’t you all powerful Lord?  Doesn’t Your Word always accomplish your will?  Wasn’t it your intent that there be nothing but “good people” in your kingdom of sowing and reaping?  Then what’s up?!  What are these weeds doing flourishing among the wheat?  Why are there so many evil people around and why are they so hard sometimes to distinguish from people of faith?

And Jesus answers this question with a statement of fact: “An enemy has done this.” [vs. 28]  In other words, He’s saying, “Your assumption is right; I did plant good seed, I do desire that all would be children of my Heavenly Kingdom, but we have an enemy who has been working from the beginning to turn a plentiful harvest into a disaster!”  So here is a biblical truth for us to remember, “Whenever Christ “plants” true believers to bear fruit for His glory, Satan the enemy of the Church is always planting others who will oppose His work and prevent His harvest.

The first mention of these two seeds in the Bible can be found in the book of Genesis when God made a promise to man and the devil that the struggle of good and evil would continue for a long time until God would put a stop to it!  Listen: “he (the Savior of mankind) shall bruise your head, and you (Satan) shall bruise his heel.” [Gen. 3:15]  And soon after in Genesis we are told that when Cain murdered his brother Abel, he started this struggle between good and evil within the heart of all mankind!  In the book of John, Jesus tells us that Cain was of the wicked one, a child of the devil!

 So Cain represents “children of the devil and Abel was the first saint to die in faith.  This struggle still rages on today.  We see it come alive for us in the New Testament and in our daily news!  Satan’s seed opposed John the Baptist and did nothing when he was killed by Herod.  They opposed the entire ministry of Jesus and asked to have Him crucified.  At the cross, Satan bruised Christ’s heel, but Jesus the promised Savior of mankind bruised Satan’s head and defeated Him forever.  But the battle rages on!

 In the news we see, read, and hear about all kinds of evil around us.  So we gather around God’s Word and Sacraments for comfort; we gather together as His good seed and comfort each other through prayer and the practice of forgiveness, but then we discover that the evil seed has somehow made it inside the church and we are shocked!  But why are we shocked?  Isn’t the common theme throughout scripture that those of us who relate to God by faith must live in this world but not be part of it?  We are continually reminded that our true home that awaits us is the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  So then, when evil enters even into the church we shouldn’t be surprised; we must remember that there are really two churches, one that we can see and one that only God can see.  We must trust that as the Master of His church, He WILL deal with the bad seed in His time and in His way!  This is the answer that He gave to His servants in verse 28 when they asked, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?”  In other words, do you want us to pluck them out?  And what was Jesus answer?  “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up wheat along with them.”  What Jesus is telling us is that only He knows who ultimately will be judged evil and a seed of Satan, not us!  Now this doesn’t mean that when evil and sin pops up in the church we can’t deal with it!  Certainly God has given us complete instructions in Matthew 18 how we are to deal with evil and sin in our congregations, but the steps that we are to take aren’t meant to punish the offender, but rather to lead sinful members into repentance; that is to turn them to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness and restoration to God and us, and regenerate them back as good seed!

What we learned last week should still be fresh in our minds; the devil is always working to lead us away from Jesus.  If He can do this, then He is confident that He will turn us into bad seed.  He snatches the Word of God from our hearts, tries to smother our faith in the gospel with worldliness, or choke off our faith with persecution.  Sometimes, maybe many times he is successful in turning good seed into bad, and when he does this he is able to plant false Christians wherever our Lord plants true children on faith.

 I am sure that no one knew the secrets that Dennis Raider hid in his heart as they sat next to him every Sunday at Divine Service!  Who is Dennis Raider?  He was the president of a Lutheran Church in Wichita Kansas, and he is now a convicted serial killer!  He was charged and found guilty of killing 10 people!  Ok, Lord, at least we can cross his name off of the heavenly roll call and judge him guilty of eternal punishment like the court has, right?  And to this, Jesus says, “No!  Let him grow until the harvest.”  But why?  Well because only God knows the heart of a person, even sinful people like you and me and only He is capable of pronouncing the final judgment of eternal separation from His love and His kingdom.  So what in the meantime,  we are to do the only thing we can do; continue to be good seed!

As we gather around God’s Word and Sacrament we are to allow Him to care for us and protect us from others who might see hints of evil seed in us and want to pull us up!  We do this when we recognize our sin, confess it before God and each other and turn to the Cross of Jesus Christ and be saved.  As I said last week, this is the rhythm of a Kingdom lifestyle.  It’s the heartbeat of the body of Christ made of good seed; not good seed by nature but good seed through the work of Jesus Christ!  And as we are being daily recreated, protected, and nurtured we are called to stay awake!  We must stay awake and protect our doctrine and watch how we live.  We are called to live a life of faith that demonstrates God’s presence in a sinful world.  And when we sleep and fail to pay attention as the church has done many times in the past, Satan works.  He plants false teaching, false Christians, and false preachers, all so he can destroy the church from within!  But ultimately thank God, we must remember and trust that it is God’s Church, and He alone is able to protect it!  It is His Kingdom, and He alone builds it and preserves it.

So what is the Kingdom of God?  Well, in Mark chapter 1, John the Baptist told us that the kingdom of God had come near; he announced that God was, through Jesus the Messiah, laying the foundation for His rule of grace within the hearts of sinful men and women.  He does this through repentance and forgiveness of sins by faith in the completed work of Jesus and the gift of baptism.  When what we would judge as bad seed accepts this work of God, then God declares them fit for His Kingdom.  So the work of the kingdom of God takes place in others in the same place it takes place for us; it happens in the heart.  And since we cannot see into another person’s heart we trust in the only one who can; we trust in God the Father who created our bodies, God the Son who redeemed our bodies and God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies our bodies.

 So will Casey, Dennis, and countless others who appeared evil really be in heaven?  Ultimately, we don’t know, only God does, but we do know that if they do enter the kingdom of heaven it will be through the same way that we do; it will be through confession, repentance, and forgiveness that can only come through Jesus Christ!  Let’s remember that while the kingdom of Heaven is a place where we are promised to spend our eternity it is not the center of God’s message to us, He is!  On every page of our Bibles we are encouraged to center every aspect of our lives around God and His real presence with us and within us!

 Now, as each of us thinks about death, it is natural that we will also think about judgment, and this can cause fear in us sometimes, because it is God alone who knows our hearts.  But we must always remind ourselves and our brothers and sisters that we are now truly the good seed, that will be put into our Masters barn, that is into the Kingdom of Heaven only because Jesus was and is, and always shall be the Good Seed for us!

And when our struggle against evil and sin is over, “Then (we) the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of (our) Father.  He who has ears (and eyes of faith), let him hear.” [Vs. 43]  Let them hear that they are now the good seed, built on the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ!  “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness; no merit of my own I claim but wholly lean on Jesus name.  When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil.  His oath, His covenant and blood support me in the raging flood; when every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.  When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in Him be found, clothed in His righteousness alone, redeemed to stand before His throne!  On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand!”  [LSB Hymn 575]  In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN!