A Sower Went Out To Sow His Seed

St. Luke 8:4-15 (1/31/16)

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

St. Luke 8:4-5 [4] And when a great multitude had gathered, and others had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: [5] “A sower went out to sow his seed…”

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our Lord…  Have you ever wondered why some people hear and believe the Gospel while others do not?  Why is it that some people come to faith in Christ while others simply couldn’t care less?  Why do some rejoice in God’s mercy and forgiveness while others could not be more cold or indifferent?

Does it have something to do what something inside of those who believe?  Could it be that we who believe have a better attitude?  Maybe we are just less stubborn.  Maybe we make better choices.  Maybe the “seed” of God’s Word finds more fertile ground in our hearts while others have harder hearts and rockier soil.

These answers sound pretty good to our human reason, but they are dead wrong.  It is dangerous for us to think that there is something in us which makes us better than someone else.  It was wrong for the Pharisee in the temple to compare himself to the tax collector and other repentant sinners of his day.  Our human pride always wants to make ourselves look better in comparison to others.

The simple fact of the matter is that all people, including you and me, are equally sinful, equally corrupt.  All of us have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.  In God’s eyes no one person is better than the next.  Because of our sinfulness, no one is ever good enough for God.

Dear friends in Christ, God loves you purely by grace alone.  God is gracious and merciful to you because of what Christ did for you on the cross.  You do not deserve God’s love, but according to His mercy and for Christ’s sake, He takes away all your sin.  You contribute nothing to your salvation.  “By grace you are saved…..not by works.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

But still, some people hear this wonderful news and simply could not care less.  Why?  Why do some people reject God’s Word and resist the Holy Spirit?  Why are some folks cold and indifferent to the Gospel?

Is it God’s fault?  No. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)  God takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ez. 33:11) The Lord is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  “God so loved the world so that He gave His one and only Son.” (John 3:16)

Well, then, if it is not God’s fault, then is it the fault of God’s Word?  If only God would rewrite the Bible so that people would understand it better, do you really think more people would believe?  Many people complain that God’s Word could not be relevant today.  Since it was written so long ago it is simply out of touch with today’s society.

Or maybe it is the fault of the liturgy.  Maybe we should liven up our services a little bit, bring in some clowns and sing, “Clown Him with many clowns.”

Or maybe it is the pastor’s fault.   He doesn’t understand us; he’s not one of us; he’s too stubborn, too closed-minded, too, well, Lutheran.  And why in the world does he keep telling us about sin and Jesus and the Sacraments?!?  You see, the list could go on and on and on, because it is our nature to find fault and place blame where it ought not be.  It is our nature to find fault everywhere but where the fault really lies: ourselves.

Dear friends in Christ, it is not the fault of the Word of God when some people do not believe.  By extension neither is it the liturgy’s fault, for the liturgy, you see, is God’s Word set to a certain order; and if we blame the liturgy then we blame God’s Word.  Our Old Testament lesson says that God’s Word “shall not return to [Him] void, but it shall accomplish what [He pleases] and it shall prosper in the thing for which [He] sent it.” (Is. 55:11) The writer to the Hebrews proclaims that the “Word of God is living and active, more powerful than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).  Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Word yields “a crop a hundred fold.”

When you were born, you were dead in your trespasses and sins.  And then in your Baptism, God made you alive again together with Him.  In your baptism God’s Word prospered in the thing for which He sent it.  Just as a dead seed comes to life as it comes into contact with water, so also you were made alive through the Word of God at work in the waters of Holy Baptism.

When the baptized and confirmed commune at this altar, God’s Word prospers in the thing for which He sent it.  Amazing things take place at this altar; powerful things take place at this altar.  Bread and wine are the very host for the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar.  When His body and blood are received in repentance and faith, sins are forgiven, faith is strengthened, pardon and peace are poured out abundantly.

When you hear the Good News of God’s love for you in Christ preached from this pulpit, God’s Word prospers in the thing for which He sent it.  As God’s Word enters your ears it is planted in your heart by faith.  St Paul says that “faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard by the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10).  Once the Gospel is heard, faith is either created or strengthened.  That is why in today’s Gospel reading Jesus encourages everyone who has ears to use them in hearing the Word of God.

The Gospel of Jesus should be preached and taught to all people, all nations, excluding no one.  The sowing of God’s Word needs to continue so that people may hear and believe.  It needs to continue for the sake of new converts and for maintaining believers in the kingdom.

The seed of God’s Word has been planted.  It grew and the harvest is ready.  It is our prayer that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers into His harvest field.

However, as the Gospel is spread, it encounters many obstacles.  First of all, the devil wants to take the Word out of your heart “lest you believe and are saved” or lest you be strengthened in your faith.  He will do everything in his power to destroy the Gospel message and keep it from coming to your ears.

Also the world will tempt you to fall away like Judas did, “who believed for a while but fell away at the time of temptation.”

Finally your sinful flesh will tempt you with the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life” so that your faith is choked out like the rich young ruler who made worldly possessions his idol.

These are the enemies of the Gospel: the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh.  They tempt our youth, they tempt parents, they tempt marriages.  They will tempt you to use abusive substances like drugs and alcohol.  They will tempt you sexually by means of the television, movies, or the internet.  They will tempt you with anger, gambling, selfishness…and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, because of these enemies of the Gospel and their influence, many have wandered from the faith.  Is unbelief a reality?  It most certainly is!  And it hurts especially when a family member or a friend cares little about the Gospel.  We should constantly pray for them and continue to invite them to church so that they may hear the Gospel and perhaps believe and be restored.

But, dearly beloved, as you continue your journey to heaven, it will not be easy.  Your faith will be challenged and you will be tempted to fall away.  You will be tempted to blame God, His Word, His Divine Service, His messengers.  Nevertheless, since you have ears that God glued onto your head, Jesus says to use them not just to hold up your glasses or earbuds, but use them to hear the Word of God.  Use your ability to walk and drive to come to church and bring others to church.  Do not let the devil tempt you to be lazy in your faith and deny your soul the food it desperately needs in the Gospel and the sacraments.

Pray that the Lord would give you strength in the midst of temptation, and then come here to the very place where that strength – through His Word and His Sacramental gifts – is given out.  Remember the words of our Lord: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  You have the gift of faith which holds to the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Why do some believe and others do not?  We will not be able fully to answer this question.  But since you believe now, give thanks to the Lord for the faith with which He has blessed you.  Give thanks to the Lord for His mercy and grace given to you in Christ Jesus.  Rejoice that Christ has defeated the devil and has overcome him by His resurrection from the grave.

And be comforted in the forgiveness of sins which God lavishes upon you in His Baptism, in His Holy Absolution, in His Holy Gospel, and in His Holy Supper.  “Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word…..Support us in the final strife, and lead us out of death to life.”

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.