Sunday, July 5, 2020

Proper 10 - Series A

Proper 10 - Series A
(12 July 2020)

Isaiah 55:10–13
Romans 8:12–17
Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

The Preaching of the Word of Christ Bears the Good Fruits of Faith and Love

As “the rain and the snow come down from heaven” and “water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout” (Isaiah 55:10), so the Word of God accomplishes the purpose for which He speaks it, granting joy and peace through the forgiveness of sins and producing the fruits of faith and love in those who are called by His name. Christ Jesus, the incarnate Word, has established the name of the Lord as “an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13). He opens our ears to hear, our minds to understand and our hearts to believe His Word, lest the evil one come and snatch it away. He thus transforms our rocky hearts into good soil, which clings to the Gospel and “indeed bears fruit” (Matthew 13:23). He is Himself the first-fruits of all who “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons” (Romans 8:15). Thus being “led by the Spirit of God,” we are not afraid, but we cry out in faith to our Father in heaven (Romans 8:14–15). For as we suffer with Christ, the beloved Son, so shall we “also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:17).

Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scripture 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 every hold fast to 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. 

Encouraging Discouraged Sowers
Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege
A sower went out to sow. (Matthew 13:3)

Through Isaiah God explains the success of His word by comparing it to the success of rain and snow in watering seed upon the earth.  He then promises, 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. (55:11). Though this chapter in Isaiah presents a different illustration than that in Sunday’s Gospel, yet both are illustrating the Word of God.  In Isaiah we realize the certainty that God’s Word will always succeed.  In Sunday’s Gospel, it appears as though the Word of God fails!

As we realize the Gospel is the best news the world will ever get, it is often discouraging when that Gospel is frequently ignored, rejected or even actively opposed.  Sadly some will not even listen to the Gospel, having rejected the Christian faith without even knowing what it is about.  It is perhaps even more disheartening to see young people joyfully speaking their vows of fidelity in the Rite of Confirmation, only to find them rejecting the faith later in life.  It is equally discouraging to observe an adult brought to faith and baptized, only to have a major problem in their congregation prompt them to say, “If this is what Christianity is about, I don’t want any part of it.”

Though laity are privileged to share the Gospel, and most who have shared the Gospel with family and friends will at some point experience some discouragement, yet pastors are uniquely discouraged when at times the work of their calling seems all for naught.   We are not speaking of those few pastors who fail to faithfully scatter the seed of the Gospel.  We speak of the many pastors who generously scatter the seed—both conscientious missionaries and pastors of congregations—but they do not see growth, and in fact some see numbers decreasing.  One temptation is to make the Gospel conform to the culture, but this is futile and in fact harmful to the work of the kingdom.

It is also tempting to believe the Gospel has lost its power, or that perhaps the statement in Isaiah’s prophecy—that the Word will always accomplish that for which God sent it—is misleading.  Neither of these is true.  On the soil of the heart that has been pulverized and plowed by God’s Law, the Gospel remains the power of God unto salvation, and truly it will always accomplish that for which God sent it. Those predestined in Christ to salvation will indeed be called to believe the Gospel (Rom 8:29,30).

In Sunday’s parable Jesus reminds us that anyone who scatters the seed of the Gospel must remember the great evil of this world.  Even as the cross is at the heart of the Gospel, so too the cross of Jesus starkly reminds us of the destructive schemes of the devil, the world and our flesh.  In His death Jesus had to first absorb the destructive designs of these tempters, so the Gospel could be created and then so it could have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of God’s people. This evil trio—devil, world and sinful flesh—wants nothing more than to destroy both the germination and the fruit-bearing of the Gospel.

Recall that it is God’s Gospel, it is God’s church and it is God who performs conversion.  St. Paul, using a seed illustration to describe the proclamation of the Gospel, succinctly reminds us of this reality:  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (1 Co 3:6). So Pastors, teachers, parents and all others who are called upon to scatter the seed of the Gospel, do not be discouraged.  Evil may appear to dominate, but it has been defeated; the Word of the Cross remains the power of God unto salvation.  Keep scattering.

Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23
The Parable of the Sower 

v1 Ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ἐξελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῆς οἰκίας ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.

v2 καὶ συνήχθησαν πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλοι πολλοί, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα καθῆσθαι, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν εἱστήκει.
And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.

v3 καὶ ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς πολλὰ ἐν παραβολαῖς λέγων• Ἰδοὺ ἐξῆλθεν ὁ σπείρων τοῦ σπείρειν.
 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.

v4 καὶ ἐν τῷ σπείρειν αὐτὸν ἃ μὲν ἔπεσεν παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν, καὶ ἐλθόντα τὰ πετεινὰ κατέφαγεν αὐτά.
And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.

v5 ἄλλα δὲ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη ὅπου οὐκ εἶχεν γῆν πολλήν, καὶ εὐθέως ἐξανέτειλεν διὰ τὸ μὴ ἔχειν βάθος γῆς,
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,

v6 ἡλίου δὲ ἀνατείλαντος ἐκαυματίσθη καὶ διὰ τὸ μὴ ἔχειν ῥίζαν ἐξηράνθη.
but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.

v7 ἄλλα δὲ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ τὰς ἀκάνθας, καὶ ἀνέβησαν αἱ ἄκανθαι καὶ ἔπνιξαν αὐτά.
Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.

v8 ἄλλα δὲ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν τὴν καλὴν καὶ ἐδίδου καρπόν, ὃ μὲν ἑκατὸν ὃ δὲ ἑξήκοντα ὃ δὲ τριάκοντα.
Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

v9 ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω.
He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Parable of the Sower Explained

v18 Ὑμεῖς οὖν ἀκούσατε τὴν παραβολὴν τοῦ σπείραντος.
Hear then the parable of the sower:

v19 παντὸς ἀκούοντος τὸν λόγον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ μὴ συνιέντος, ἔρχεται ὁ πονηρὸς καὶ ἁρπάζει τὸ ἐσπαρμένον ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ• οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν σπαρείς.
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 what was sown along the path.

v20 ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ εὐθὺς μετὰ χαρᾶς λαμβάνων αὐτόν,
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,

v21 οὐκ ἔχει δὲ ῥίζαν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν, γενομένης δὲ θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ διὰ τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς σκανδαλίζεται.
 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

v22 ὁ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων, καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου συμπνίγει τὸν λόγον, καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται.
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

v23 ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν καλὴν γῆν σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ συνιείς, ὃς δὴ καρποφορεῖ καὶ ποιεῖ ὃ μὲν ἑκατὸν ὃ δὲ ἑξήκοντα ὃ δὲ τριάκοντα.
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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