Christ, the Sower goes out sowing his seed
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us hear the Word of God, as we find it written in St. Matthew’s Gospel, the 13th chapter.
[Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23]
Let us pray: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
Hear then a parable. Jesus has our attention now doesn’t He? Parables are always interesting to hear. They are like little stories that Jesus would tell; and who doesn’t love a good story? Who could forget their favorite one, like Little Red Riding Hood, or The Three Little Pigs, or The Parable of the Sower. So, is Jesus just telling the crowd that has gathered before him a folktale? Not quite. Parables have much more meaning than your average Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. Jesus teaches in parables what the Kingdom of God is like. He teaches through similes; expressions such as “like” and “can be compared to;” through metaphors; expressions used to refer to something that it does not normally mean; and through allegories; visual symbols that stand for ideas or concepts. Why? Our Lord explains to his disciples; to you and I: To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand (Luke 8:10). Why would our Lord Jesus Christ speak in such a way that some people would hear him, but not understand? If you know anything about public speaking, it is that one must make themselves clear. But Jesus isn’t just a good speaker, He is the Son of God. His word is to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness (1 Cor. 1:23). Here then a parable, and know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
In our text, Christ speaks of a sower [that] went out to sow his seed. In order to understand the meaning behind a parable, one must know who and what Jesus is referring to. Fortunately, our text has His explanation of this parable. So instead of hypothesizing and speculating on or about whom Jesus is talking about, we may refer to Scripture for the answer. The seed is the Word of God, this we are told. Who then, is the sower? It is Christ himself. He is the sower and he is the seed.
This sower goes out sowing His seed. Some [of the] seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. We are told that 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. Have you ever walked down a dirt road in the middle of a dry summer? The ground is rock hard. The path is so worn that nothing, not even those ever persistent weeds, let alone tossed seed, can grow through the packed soil. So are the hearts of some. These are the people who have hardened their hearts to the Word. They are those who have repeatedly rejected the Word of God. They are the hard cases, the unrepentant, the willful sinners. Though the seed of the Word falls upon them, they are so set against receiving it, that the seed just lies on top of the soil of their hearts, right out in plain sight of the scavenging vulture. Satan is circling. It is a bountiful day for him when he comes across the path of one who has hardened his heart to the seed of the Word. Easy pick’ns. All he need do is swoop down, and remove the seed, and he of the trodden-down heart can go about their business like nothing ever happened. Who are these people, whom Satan can so easily snatch away the seed of the Word? They are those who oppose the grace of God. They are natural born sinners. They are you and I. Our depraved nature hardens our hearts to the grace that can alone save us. It is our willful desire to reject the Word of God, to walk down the beaten path of deliberate sin. And Satan’s reaps of our fruits; his desire to keep us for himself is accomplished.
The sower goes out sowing His seed. Some 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. We are told that the seed 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. If you have ever tried to plant a garden, you know that rocky soil is about the hardest type of soil one can plant in. The rocks seem to be everywhere. It is like there is one mother rock who keeps having babies. No sooner have you planted your crop, and a dry spell will come along. You may water to your hearts’ content, but it just doesn’t seem as if the plants are getting the nourishment they need. So are the hearts of some. These people are the ones who fall easily into temptation Their roots of faith are shallow, superficial. They are the ones who have faith, but when the going gets tough, they get going. They are the ones who like the sound of: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Luke. 9:23). Their motives are good, but when any type of trial, adversity, or cross appears, it’s “Jesus who?” What kind of “Christian” could be like this? They are the Christians who shirk away from proclaiming the Gospel. They are the Christians who, with little persuasion, fall into temptation. They are the Christians who sit comfortably in the pew. They are you and I. The human heart is an unpromising soil for the Word of God. Our sinful nature has dried up the land. It is one thing for us to talk about our Savior, but when faced with adversity, we do not practice what we preach. We may feel secure thinking that we bear our cross just like Jesus, but when temptation gets in front of us, we cast off that silly plastic, wood-colored cross, and follow our desires. Again, in those who are superficial, those who only warm a pew, those who drop Christianity at the tip of a hat, Satan reaps of their fruits that grow in this soil. He relishes in this crop.
The sower goes out sowing His seed. Some Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. We are told that the seeds that were 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. Again, if you have ever grown a garden, you will understand. You spend so much time carefully planting, and no sooner have the tops of the plants started to peek out of the ground, and the weeds have come from nowhere, to surround the plants. The weeds abound. They seem to need minimal resources. They grow and multiply, and sap the nutrients out of the earth, till they leave your precious plants withering, starving, and dying. So are the hearts of some. These people are the ones who are worldly-minded. They are the ones who do not fail to hear the Word, nor do they despise it, but rather, speak respectfully, if not reverently of it. Yet they are the ones in whom the flesh is striving to gain the day, and the flesh is winning. They are the ones who shelter themselves with wealth, and all the comforts of earthly security. They stockpile their riches, in case of a rainy day when God cannot take care of them. “For God is so far away, and I can take care of myself” they may say. What they do not know is that the only way in which they may provide for themselves in the future is barred to them by earthly treasures. Who are these people? They are you and I. Sin has us firmly believing that we can earn our way into heaven. We, by our sinful nature, reject the truth in regard to the providence and grace of a God that cares for us. We are more comfortable believing that we can care for ourselves and buy our future. These fruits Satan stockpiles in his domain. These are finest of all to the Evil one. They are the most prized, and Satan treasures them in his kingdom.
Repent, for not only the open enemies of Christ are wayside hearers, but that you also belong to that unhappy class, all the while seeming to be His friend. Repent, and know that sin brings damnation, and that your only possible way of escape is through Christ. Repent, you who are living more for the glitter and glory of the world than for the Lord. For only in Christ is there salvation.
Here then the good news. Christ sowed, you received. He has cultivated the hardness and shallowness of the dirt of our hearts into fertile soil. He has given growth and nutrition to the seed, His Word, and you and I have received it. The Spirit keeps you in the faith, The Father grants us daily forgiveness, The Son guarantees you salvation, and you receive it. Not by your own works, or merit, but by the merit of Christ.
Christ sowed his seed in you because he loves you. The extent of his love is boundless. He suffered at the hands of his enemies for your sake. He was crucified upon a cross for you and for me. He died and descended into hell as a propitiation of his Father’s wrath, that is, He has made atonement for all our sins. Christ Jesus did what you nor I could ever do. He fulfilled the Law. His perfection even unto death was not for personal gain or glory, but for you.
And death could not hold him, for on the third day he rose. He has conquered death, so that we may be with him in everlasting life. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He has cultivated the hard, rock-covered, thorn-infested soil of your soil by watering it with His Holy Baptism. The sin-cleansing water has made the ground of your soul ripe for accepting His word–his seed. He has established a new covenant with you, for He has given you his body and blood for the strengthening of your faith and the remission of your sins. This blood, that was shed for you, permeates the hardest soil of your heart, and made it fertile for His seed, His word to grow.
In the book of Isaiah, our Lord tells us: So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it (Is. 55:11). These are no mere idle words Isaiah recounts the Lord to have spoken. They are truth. His word, his seed will not return to him empty. Our Savior, Jesus Christ does not look for the “right” kind of people in which to sow his seed. He does not scout out the best planting ground for His Word. He simply sows. His Word has its way with you. So rejoice, ye sinner, for Christ has made a pleasing sacrifice to His Father for you. He has died so that the soil of your heart, be it hardened, shallow, or thorn infested, is transformed into good ground.
The sower goes out sowing His seed. Some seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Dear Christian friends, though our hearts may be as hard as a trodden path; though we may be rocky soil; though we may have thorns growing around, threatening to choke out the existence of the seed, know that Christ Jesus, has tilled up the soil of our souls. He has made the worst possible ground for growing, fertile.
Our Father in Heaven knows the conditions of our hearts. He sent His Son, who in turn sends us the Spirit. It is the Spirit who guides us to faith in the sower, Jesus Christ. Through the working of His word, the crop that Christ reaps is bountiful. His word does not come back to him empty. We are guided by the Holy Spirit to walk in the way our Father in Heaven wishes. Our comforter, the sower of faith in our hearts, gathers us to himself, and welcomes us into everlasting life. Amen.
And now the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.