O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:4-15)
Our Collect which we have prayer today reminds us that we take no credit for any good deed that we do but only for the evil deeds we may do. If we cannot trust our own heart to avoid sin, how can we trust that heart to do only righteousness? If we do not place our full trust in God, then we have nothing at all to trust. Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake (Psalms 115:1) When I see churches and shallow ministers taking credit for that they claim the Lord has done in building elaborate sanctuaries to the exclusion of the orphan’s table, I know that this is the world church and not that of Christ. We are all alike helpless in this world to defend against the forces of darkness. Darkness is the prime feature of the world in which we live. But we can always call upon the Lord for our main defense. He will stand with us, and He is Light. Where Light is, there can be no darkness.
In the Epistle reading for today (2 Corinthians 11:19-31) Paul reminds us of the many sufferings, hardships, and trials he has faced. He has been in the sea for a day and a night, beaten with whips and rods, cold and naked, hungry! Yet Paul, by the grace and protection of God, still stands. He has placed a trust in God that is worthy of our emulation. Paul readily admits that these sufferings came as a result of his own weakness, yet he gives God the glory for sustaining and keeping him through all. God is glorified in the good works which we do because all righteous works are of God.
Let us now turn to the very acts and Words of Christ in today’s Gospel text from Luke chapter 8.
There is one consideration I have omitted addressing in past sermons on this text – the SEED and its nature. We know that the Seed is the Word of God here, and the four different grounds mentioned are kinds of hearts to receive the Gospel. But Let’s just consider briefly the symbolic structure of the SEED.
Every seed of plants on earth have an embryo of life hidden deeply in their being. There is a testa, or durable coating of the seed to protect from elements; a cotyledon, or storage of nutrients which constitute the greater mass of the seed; and the embryo which possesses the spark of life which enables the seed to grow and produce fruit. The seed needs only a fertile ground, the water of life, and the light from on high. The life of the seed can remain dormant in the embryo for at least 4,000 years given a favorable environment. The seed is very much like the word of God. It has life in itself. It is protected from the soiled hands of men, and it has the sustenance that will feed its life within it. Jesus is the consummation of that Seed, for He is the Word Incarnate. Whether the Seed of His Word bears fruit or not depends upon the hidden and silent workings of the Holy spirit in the soil (heart) in which it is planted.
There is a harmony in the Gospels on this parable. It is covered in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; but I prefer, most thoroughly, the account in Matthew 13 for it relates in perfect unison with the other parables of the Kingdom in Matthew 13 (also known as the Kingdom Chapter of Matthew).
We see, first of all, in the parable of Jesus, that the Word of God (Seed) must be carried forth. It does no good to the lost soul for one to have a very accomplished knowledge of the Word if that Word is not carried forth and shared. Does the dust covered Bible on your mantle serve any Godly purpose? No, it does not. Its only value is a promised value such as potential energy. We need an active value of the Bible being dusted off, read carefully, memorized, carried forth, and shared. This is the kinetic energy that results in fulfillment of purpose.
Secondly, we may wonder who is this Sower that goes forth? We know the Sower is, in the original, Jesus Christ. He brought the saving Gospel and was Himself, that salvation. He taught the Apostles to be like-minded sowers of the Word. The Apostles have sowed the Word so abundantly that we all have at least tasted the fruits of that sowing. And no we are the sowers as well. If we only consume the Seed upon our own lust, how can there ever be a profitable increase. The Seed MUST be sowed in order that there will be a continual harvest. We must not take our Seed as the one talent and bury it away, we must invest the Seed by sowing and, in the process of time, we shall we receive abundance. The more we share the Holy Word with others, the greater the harvest of that Word in our hearts. What did the Sower do? A sower went out to sow his seed So must we go forth with the Seed.
Thirdly, we should note that there is only one Seed. It is not a variety of Seed, but one constant and unchanging truth of God. There are no Seed that are unwholesome or which do not contain in their hearts the power to produce more fruit. The seed is the word (singular) of God. God’s Word does not change, and it is always wholesome whether received in a wholesome heart or not. The Sower’s bag does not have diverse seeds – even seeds of bramble – in His bag; but only the true and constant Seed of God’s Word.
Fourthly, we must know that the four different kinds of soils represent four different kinds of hearts. We know these hearts well. We have all had one of each of these type hearts at times, but the cultivating Word of God has prepared our hearts for the Seed – to receive that Seed into the hidden chambers of our hearts. Perhaps that hidden chamber is the lowest chamber and most humble part of our hearts. The lowest chamber is where the moisture of life is most available that the Holy Ghost may nurture the Seed in thick darkness as the germinated plant struggles to reach the sunlight of the surface. Jesus, the Sower, does not differentiate between the types of soil upon which He sows – He sows on all soils. That which is stony ground today may become fertile soil tomorrow. The Sower does not distinguish between soils or hearts. It is the condition of the heart that receives the Seed that will determine whether that Seed shall bear fruit. But it is the Holy Ghost that gives life to that Seed when the heart has been conditioned by God. “….some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. God does not cast His pearls before swine. If there are deaf ears to His Word, then His Word will not germinate in their hearts. They are simply UNABLE to receive it because of the externals that they so highly value in the world. But remember, friends, the soils can change. The brambles and briar may be burned away exposing good earth.
The unlikely soils, or different types of hearts, are capable of being changed. The hardened wayside may be broken up, the rocky ground cleared of stones, and the thorns pulled up by the roots or burned by fire. These grounds may be prepared by God through His workers of the vineyard. We may, through our examples of obedience to God and contentment, become a hoe, or a plough, to break up the hardened soil so that the Seed may flourish there. Have you done this, friends, with the hardened soils about you?
Shall we discover the Fountain of Life and hide its existence from our families, from our friends, from our neighbors, and from the stranger that passes by. Would we not suffer from want of our sons and daughters, our wives, mothers and fathers, neighbors, etc. in an Eternity of Life alone with God? When the scroll of Heaven parts and time is no more, shall we go empty-handed before God because we selfishly guarded the secret of His Gospel? What defense can we utter at that time when our only son or daughter, or our postman, druggist, or merchant precedes us in judgment and tells the Lord, “I never knew because no one ever told me?” Then to feel, as did Peter the night of the Passion, the eyes of Christ turn upon us with that Great Question in His Face. Perhaps there would be bitter tears, even in Heaven?
The Church has sat silent far too long. It is time to serve as the salt of the earth – to speak out against the evils of our day. If the professing church in America would rise up with that One Voice of Christ, in condemning the murder of innocents in their mother’s wombs; the adulteration of the institution of marriage and its perversions away from the Creation model; the promiscuity, the pornographic sex education in schools; the forced elimination of prayer in school – if the Church were to stand up courageously and not cringe in political corners, then would there be change, but not until. What about you, friend: Do you leave your Christian faith at the door of the voting precinct? Do you prefer to remain silent in caving to public pressure to hide your faith always? If told to remove your lapel cross, do you brazenly remove the symbol of the One who died for you? Do you believe that changing times have changed the Sower’s Seed? Really? Is truth relative, or is truth ALWAYS truth? Wake up church, and smell the poison in the cup of the world that you have preferred to that of the Cup from which our Lord drank….NOW!