February 19, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
[5. Oops!: Which soil are you?]
Which soil are you? That’s what you want to know, right? Whenever we hear the parable Jesus has for us today, that’s what we think about. So, which soil are you? Inquiring minds want to know! So, look at your life. Has the devil and your flesh already snatched the Word from you, today? Checked out of the service, maybe? What about rocks of pride, thinking “I know this already”? What about “concerns and riches and pleasures of life”? Plenty of that to go around. There’s always something that gets in the way of the Word: money, work, vacation, sports. These pile up and choke the Word. It seems there’s only a one in four chance of being good soil…
[4. Ugh!: You can’t change what soil you are.]
It’s okay though, or so we think, because we think that all we have to do is change what soil we are. That’s our natural inclination, right? If I’m labeled as one soil, well, then I’ll work to be another kind of soil. Like, if you’re a B student one quarter, you’ll work to be an A student the next. But is that why Jesus told this parable, so that we know that we need to change what sort of soil we are?
Now, I may have grown up in the city, but there’s a problem with thinking that you can change what soil you are. From our garden last year, I know that’s not how soil works! From all the farm equipment you have, you know that, too! A dirt path or stone-filled soil or thorn-infested soil doesn’t just become the best field all on it’s own. There’s a 0 in 4 chance of that! That’s hard work!
But it certainly works the other way. Good ground can somehow get rocks, it will certainly produce thorns, and it can become a path given enough time and enough traffic. That’s a curse of the fall. God says to Adam: “The ground will produce thorns and thistles for you.” Our hearts produce that, too. The Lord made us good soil with His Word. Separate yourself from His Word, and the Word will produce for awhile, until it’s chocked or scorched. Soon you’ve become hardened to the Word, and the devil and flesh make sure you don’t receive it.
[3. Aha!: All eyes off the soil and on the Sower’s Word.]
We’re in some serious trouble if this parable is about the soils. There’s some good news: Soil is passive! Soil needs to be worked, to have rocks removed, to have weeds pulled, to have good seed sown upon it. The soil simply receives, but even still, this parable isn’t about the soils at all! All eyes off the soil and on the Sower’s Word.
That’s what this parable is about, as Jesus says, “A Sower went out to sow His seed.” Looking to the soils and thinking about which soil we are will lead us to despair or to pride, thinking that we’re good soil all on our own, through our own work. Looking with all eyes on Jesus, won’t end that way. All eyes on Jesus means salvation.
[2. Whee!: JESUS AND HIS WORD DO ALL THE WORK.]
Besides that, looking with all eyes on Jesus, well, that’s the most soil-like thing to do. Soil receives. Good soil always receives the Word, wherever, whenever it’s offered. Why? JESUS AND HIS WORD DO ALL THE WORK. Asking what the soil did to receive the seed and produce hundredfold is like asking what the baseball did to be a home run. JESUS AND HIS WORD DO ALL THE WORK. There’s a 4 in 4 chance of that!
Jesus certainly does all the work, as a good Sower would. He undoes the consequences of the curse. Thorns and thistles are His, His crown, as He bore creation’s curse and the thorns and thistles of our hearts. His death destroyed the power of the devil, and for all the stones of pride He’s placed in His stone tomb. But all this is your salvation and forgiveness. Jesus says, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Ravens, rocks, and thorns are undone! He dies and rises, and we’ll celebrate that about 60 days from now.
The Word also does the work. The Spirit-filled Word of the Scriptures, of the preaching, the Spirit-filled Word of Baptism, of the Absolution, the Spirit-filled body and blood of the Supper does the work. The Word isn’t a dead letter. Something we absorb as an obligation, and we can then give correct answers. As the Lord says in Jeremiah, “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” His Word burns the thorns and breaks the rocks. It also gives life. As we heard from Isaiah: “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle.”
[1. Yeah!: His Word continually produces. (Is 55)]
Jesus’ Word always produces. How can it not? “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” Jesus says. So it should be! So it is now! For when you hear the Word, when you receive the Word, it will do what the Lord intends. His Word is “living and active.” It can’t not. The Word alone does that. By Scripture Alone we receive from Jesus. Jesus sows the Seed in His Word and Gifts and produces fruit within us: faith in God, love for neighbor.
“A Sower went out to sow His seed.” He’s sown it today. His Word from Him to you. Separate yourself from Him and from His Word and His Gifts, you may produce for awhile, but eventually the fruit dies, and there’s just thorns and rocks and ground so hard no seed can be planted. But good soil, made good by the Sower and His Word, continually receives. That soil always wants more! It can’t have enough! And the Sower always has more! More Word, more Life, more Forgiveness. JESUS AND HIS WORD DO ALL THE WORK. Thanks be to God!
INI + AMEN.