Parable of the Sower: Fifth Sunday After Pentecost - Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23 / Pastor Ted Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23/ Fifth Sunday After Pentecost / July 13th 2014 / Parable of the Sower
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And He told them many things in parables, saying: “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 seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
“Hear then the parable of the sower: 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. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 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. 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. 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.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Christ Jesus says "He who has ears, let him hear.” Saint Paul says "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." I pray before each sermon that The Father would open the ears of those who hear the sermon, whether here at Mount Olive or on-line someplace around the world, I pray this trusting that the Holy Spirit would then entre in and do His work, cast the seed and make it grow.
As with all Jesus' parables there is something peculiar to the ear, this either gets your attention or is dismissed out of hand for being foolish. For example in the Parable of the Lost Sheep Jesus asks, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?" And then coming home throws a big expensive party for all his friends to celebrate! The answer is no one! No one would do that! The economical, fiscally responsible, time management oriented thing to do is to "count your beans" quickly, draw up a quick profit loss statement and then ... cut your losses, chalk it up to the cost of doing business and focus on your 99 sheep which aren't lost.
If Christians run all over the place seeking out the one lost sheep, disregarding the ninety-nine sheep that aren't lost they are like the Master from Jesus' other parable, the Parable of the Talents who gives his servants some of his great wealth, in Matthew's Gospel Jesus says "To one [the Master] gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then [the Master] went away." The giving of the talents was based on abilities, the World asks 'What foolish master would give one talent, let's say it's a talent of gold, that's 120 pounds of gold, worth around 2.5 million dollars in Canadian dollars today, to a guy that he knows will just go and bury the talent instead of doing anything with it?' The Master knows that the servant is lazy that he won't use it as capital to gain more wealth for the Master, he won't even invest it to make some small profit. The servant just does nothing. In that case it seems crazy for the Master to give such wealth to someone who will do nothing with it. Giving 2.5 million dollars to someone who will do nothing to make it grow is like sowing seed among thorns, ... the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the seed, and it proves unfruitful. In the Parable of the Talents when the Master returns the servants excuse for doing nothing is that, ‘[He] knew [the Master] to be a hard man, reaping where [he] did not sow, and gathering where [he] scattered no seed, so [he] was afraid, and [he] went and hid [the Masters] talent in the ground." Then the servant returns the money saying, "Here you have what is yours."
In the first case, in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, it seems smart by the Worlds standards to do nothing, in the second case, in the Parable of the Talents, it would seem smart by the Worlds standards to have given the extra one talent to the most capable Servant - 'Wouldn't it have been better to have given 6 talents to the one who received 5 in the first place and to avoid giving 2.5 million dollars worth of gold to the slothful servant?' Yet to the one who has the ears to hear it is different, in the first case in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, we hear Jesus say 'seek the lost,' and we are glad because we are the lost and He has found us. In the second case, in the Parable of the Talents, we hear Jesus say that LORD doesn't hold back His good gifts because we may prove to be untrustworthy No what we hear is that the LORD "certainly gives daily bread to everyone ... even to all evil people," and thinking on this we pray that we would always have ears to hear and eyes to see so that, "God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving" so that we may use it for the benefit of others. Seek the lost, be generous even with those who may take advantage of you. To the world this is foolish to us it is grace, it is undeserved love and for this reason Jesus' parables raise more than one eyebrow with people, so too in the case of the Parable of the Sower. Here in this parable we have something very odd indeed: The odd thing in this parable, the thing that makes the world shake it's head, scratch it's head, is where the sower sows the seed.
Farmers prepare the soil for seeding, when Europeans first came out here to the prairies, they prepared the soil, the busted the sod, they up-rooted the trees, they picked the stones, they tilled the soil, they laboured at the back breaking work, they sweat drops of sweat like blood to prepare the soil for the seed. The people hearing Jesus' parable for the first time did the same, They would hear this parable and say 'what kind of sower sows seed on a path? on rocky ground? Don't waste seed were it won't grow! Why doesn't the sower just sow it on the worked field? on the good soil! Why doesn't he pick those stones first? That sower is about the worst sower I can imagine! Someone out to fire that sower, he's reckless with the seed!
In the hymnal we have a hymn called "Preach You the Word" by Martin Franzmann, in verse three we sing the words "The Sower sows; his reckless love Scatters abroad the goodly seed, Intent alone that all may have The whole-some loaves that all men need." This is Jesus - Jesus the Good Shepherd with His under-shepherds, Jesus the Good Sower with his under-sowers - think on it - The Word of God, the seed that Jesus sows is not only for some, He doesn't hold it back to only sow on the good soil, Jesus sows the seed of His good news everywhere because He "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." His blood was not shed for some, it was shed for all: Jesus says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Jesus is given to the World, not to some of the world; Jesus' good news and His salvation is "for all peoples," not some peoples. So He sows His seed everywhere, He doesn't hold back if there's a man made path in the way, or if there's rocks or if there's a stony heart in the way like the heart Pharaoh had in the book of Exodus when the Children of Israel were being rescued by the LORD's Mighty hand out of Egypt, No the seed is sown everywhere. And because Jesus doesn't pick and choose where He sows the seed you need not pick and choose either. The first verse of that hymn says, "Preach you the Word and plant it home To men who like or like it not, The Word that shall endure and stand When flow'rs and men shall be forgot."
Mount Olive casts the seeds of God's Word onto the internet each week and we have no idea of where that seed lands, we recklessly cast it out not knowing if it lands on a man-made path where the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown; Or if it lands on rocky ground, where it's received for a time and then when life gets hard it falls away; Or if it falls among the thorns and the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the life out of it; Or if it falls on good soil where the good news is understood: We don't know. More to the fact, as I kneel and pray, as I stand and preach, as I sow the seed from this pulpit - as Christ Jesus commands me to do - I don't know the condition of your heart either. Is your faith being pecked to death by the birds, is the rockiness of life grinding you down, do the thorns and thistles of worldly cares have you in a choke-hold? Is your heart built over with a man-made path of worldly wisdom designed to keep out God's word, is there a plastic tarp underneath it? Are you at the ready with a bottle of 'Round Up' prepared to kill whatever might grow between the cracks of the cement sidewalk of that man-made path? Is your heart as rocky as your life, are you always in danger of falling away because of the bumps and stones in your way? Is your heart entangled with the thorns of greed and discontent, does the want for more gold and more, more, more ... everything choke out every word that leaves my lips before it even hits your ear? I don't know, I can't see your heart ... I am called to preach. To tell you that "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Christ Jesus worked the work of Salvation for you, He died in your place - dying the death that ought to have been yours - and in His resurrection you are now given His eternal life as a gift. He gives it to the one sheep that was lost and to the ninety-nine that were not lost, He gives it to the five talent servant, to the two talent servant and to the one talent servant; He gives it to the man-made path, to the rocky soil, to the bramble bush and it's thorns, He gives it to the good soil, He gives it to everyone. "He who has ears, let him hear.”
Jesus forgives us when we are stingy with the seed of His good news -ask and you will be forgiven - He forgives you when you pre-judge the condition of the soil, when you think you are the one who cultivates, when you become proud of the stones you've picked out of the field, out of your neighbours' field, out of the field of your heart. -ask and you will be forgiven - Thinking on your own life, if Jesus had waited to sow the seed of His love, His forgiveness, His Good News into your hearts, if He'd waited until the field was perfect for sowing would you be sitting here today? Would you be listening to these words today? Those of us gathered here in this place: Would we be coming to the rail to receive the fruit of the crucifixion, His body and blood - truly present today - for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our soul, would we be here to receive it today if Jesus had waited?
Saint Paul tells us that, "while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." "While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son [and now we are] saved by His life." When the World charges Jesus with being reckless with the seed He sows, be glad, for when the World looks at His sowing as reckless we can look at it as merciful and full of grace, because in His sowing of the seed of the word of the kingdom of God and it's love you and I we are saved, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." sow the seed, trust His word, "He who has ears, let him hear.” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Romans 10:17
 Luke 15:4
 Matthew 25:15
 Matthew 25:24-25
 Luther's Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2005, pg 21.
 "Preach You the Word," Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2007, hymn 586.
 1 Timothy 2:4
 John 3:16
 Isaiah 25:6
 Ephesians 2:8-9
 Romans 5:6
 Romans 5:8
 Romans 5:10