Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838
July 13, 2008
Today’s Gospel is the parable of the sower. The parable is an answer to the question, “why are there different responses to the preaching of the Word?” The problem is not with the seed, nor is there an issue with the sower. It is a problem of the soils and their response to the seed. It concerns the people’s part in preaching and the art of listening. Let us pray to the Lord…
“Almighty God, we thank You for planting in us the seed of Your Word. By Your Holy Spirit help us to receive it with joy, live according to it, and grow in faith and hope and love.”
Introduction: Crowds come to hear Jesus, but not all become believers. They may have enjoyed His message. They probably went away impressed with His wisdom and authority, but they did not follow Him. To deal with this problem, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. Only one-fourth of the people produced results.
Our text begs the question. What kind of hearers are there in our world today? There are four. There is the Fly-by-night hearer; the Fair weather hearer; the Too busy hearer; and the productive hearer.
1. Fly-by-night hearer — v. 4. “…and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.” [New American Standard Bible © 1995]
A. Jesus explains in verse 19: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.”
B. When some heavy trial threatens them, or some peril appears to overwhelm them, they give up or disguise their profession of faith, or they turn to some easier system.
The Christian faith and the Christian life is no guarantee of an easy life or a life lived well, or a life devoid of problems and difficulties. Some are looking for a “trouble – free” life. When challenges come – and they will - they abandon ship.
Now so for you! FEED YOUR FAITH, AND DOUBT WILL STARVE TO DEATH! When you are sad the Savior reminds you - Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. When others have failed you - David reminds us in Psalm 27, The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When you faith is battered and weak the writer to the Hebrews reminds us - Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Transition: What kind of hearers are there in our world today? There is the fly-by-night hearer. There is also the fair weather hearer.
2. Fair weather hearer — vv. 5-6. “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” [New American Standard Bible © 1995]
A. Jesus explains in VV. 20-21: “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
B. Worldly cares, they came into this world with sin, and are a fruit of the curse. Notice the conversation between Adam and his Lord in the garden after the fall into sin. And the man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12) Adam refuses to take any responsibility for his actions. There is no culpability on his part. He blames God completely. It was - that woman - whom You gave me.
God had placed Adam into the position of being priest, provider and protector. Adam throws it all back into the face of God and says in effect, “I was doing what You commanded me to do Lord…I listened to her!
So, the Lord takes Adams words - and reads them right back to him. And unto Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake…” (Genesis 3:17)
A man must be well armed when dealing with temptation and the cares of this life; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned. [see Hebrews 6:8 “…but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned] Worldly cares are a great hindrance to our profiting by the word of God.
C. God sends sunshine and rain on the earth. If it brings forth food for man, it is blessed. But, if it brings forth thorns and briers, they are rejected. So God, who blesses our lives, and refreshes them with the Gospel, demands righteous fruit. If they bear thorns, the end is destruction.
Transition: What kind of hearers are there in our world today? There is the fly-by-night hearer. There is the fair weather hearer. There is also the too busy hearer.
3. Too busy hearer — v. 7. “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.” [New American Standard Bible © 1995]
A. Listen to the Savior’s words in verse 22: “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
B. The lies of riches do the mischief; they cannot deceive us however - unless we put our trust in them. Then they choke the good seed. Such is the temptation of this current age. If I only had a better school for my children to attend – then - my life would be perfect. Oh, if I only had a better career – then - I could spend my money on the things I would like to do. Oh, if I only had a better house to purchase. – Then - my life would be complete! Or, would it? These temptations always point to the self. And as we have come to know – a man all wrapped up in himself is a pretty small package. And God and His faithful promises found in His Word are put on the back burner or placed upon the shelf. Christ’s ways then become suspect.
Transition: What kind of hearers are there in our world today? There is the fly-by-night hearer. There is the fair weather hearer. There is the too busy hearer. There is also the productive hearer.
4. Productive hearer — v. 8. “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” [New American Standard Bible © 1995]
A. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. In spite of any present day trouble God’s word is there working in your life strengthening you in spite of your problems and frustrations. In spite of the battles you must endure. Who is such a person? It’s the person mourning the death of a loved one. It’s the person who struggled with their family budget Saturday night and needs to be reminded the most precious gift was and still is free. It’s the abused person. It’s the unemployed person. It’s the person fighting demonic temptation or oppression. It’s the person struggling with guilt. It’s the person who is dying and desires this seal of the resurrection. It’s the person who hungers for the gifts of Christ’s Holy Word and Sacrament.
B. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in the hearing God's word. Thus the question: what sort of hearers are we.
Conclusion: Jesus will conclude His parable with these simple yet powerful words, “He who has ears....let him hear.” Says the Savior, “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (V. 23) Who does not have ears? The truth is proclaimed to all people regardless of condition of life. It reminds us that God desires all to be saved, for all to have the good things of God’s grace.
Christianity is a universal religion, its goal - a faith for every person. The ability to reject the Word is the hearer’s. If one rejects it, it is his own fault. It is not God’s will for any person to be ignorant of the truth or to be lost in his relationship with God. The Savior’s words in Vv. 8-9 explain the text “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. “He, who has ears, let him hear.”