Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You that through Your Son Jesus Christ You have sown Your holy Word among us: We pray that You will prepare our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, that we may diligently and reverently hear Your Word, keep it in good hearts, and bring forth fruit with patience; and that we may not incline to sin, but subdue it by Your power, and in all persecutions comfort ourselves with Your grace and continual help; through Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable:
5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.
6 “Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.
7 “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.
8 “But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that`Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
14 “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
These are Your Words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
Last week I talked about God working out His gracious election from eternity through the ministry of the Word.
We know words are powerful. You can think of books or speeches where words inspire or deceive. Words rile people up and they calm them down. Words encourage, and words can really hurt. It’s not the sound of the words that do this, but rather the meaning those words carry.
Yet, what man’s word is able to do pales in comparison to what God’s Word is capable of doing. God’s Word has the power to create all things out of nothing. All creation, what we see and what we don’t see, God made out of nothing through the might of His Word. God’s Word has the power to turn the packed and impenetrable soil of unbelieving hearts into good soil, that is, hearts that repents, believes in the gospel of Christ with a faith that is active in works, as Ezekiel wrote, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ez 36:26). God accomplishes this with the power of His Word.
The Word of God gives eternal salvation, as Paul says in Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for all who believe.” His Word is not powerful because of a specific string of vowels and consonants, but it is powerful because of the truths that those words carry. The words of Law carry the judgment of God, and the words of gospel carry all the heavenly gifts that Christ has won by His perfect life and innocent death on the cross.
All the works of the world put together cannot justify a single person on earth. But the Word of God carries with it the justifying forgiveness and righteousness of Christ. The Word declares you justified, righteous before God!
And so God, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, sows His Word, casting it all throughout the world. His Word goes out to powerfully accomplish His will as our Old Testament reading says, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
And so all glory goes to God working out His gracious election through the Word, as the Word accomplishes His will. Glory be to God for conversions to the Christian faith and the perseverance in the faith, for the justification of sinners, for the good works that flow from faith, and for the blessed end, by which the believer is brought into heavenly glory.
Yet, we know that not all are converted. Many fall from the faith. And this is not on account of God at all, but because of the sin and unbelief.
Through the Word, God has given us to hear His Word. He has made us good soil to receive His mighty word with repentance and faith. And thus, we have all the spiritual blessings the Word carries with it. Yet, the sinful flesh remains with us, and it must continually be dealt with, lest we be overcome by hardness of heart, rocks, or thorns. So you who have ears to hear, hear.
Some of the seed has fallen on the wayside, the path. This depicts those who never come to faith in the first place. Like the soil of a path that is packed down, and hard, the seed cannot penetrate the soil. So also, there are those who hear the word, but because of the hardness of their heart, the Word does not penetrate into the heart of the hearer. They hear it and they think that it is enough for them just for the Word to enter their ears, but they do not heed the words. They do not repent, they do not take hold of Christ, their Savior. They do not follow Him as their Lord.
Is there not that same tendency in our sinful flesh? The Word enters our ears, but the sinful flesh would rather remain indifferent to it. Sure, I’ll go to church, I’ll listen to the word from time to time, but it will enter my ears, but it will stop there. I would rather not be moved to repent of my sins. I would rather not have Jesus as my Savior or as my Lord, but I will do both. God grant us ears to hear this warning, that we be moved to repent of our indifference to the Word.
Some of the seeds fall on rocky soil. The Word is sowed and received into the ears and also into the heart of the person. The gospel of Christ is received with joy. But when the heat of the sun beats down on the plant, that when the trials and temptations of life bear down on the person, his faith withers and dies. The trials and temptations are not to blame for their fall from faith. For many God uses the temptations and trials help strengthen and purify faith. What, then, is the cause of the loss of faith? It is the shallow soil. It is the shallow faith, perhaps a faith that rests more upon the good feelings of being saved, rather than the promises of God’s salvation whether felt or not.
May God crush the rocks in our hearts, for we have the rocky weakness of the flesh, that would flee when being a Christian becomes difficult. We live according to the will of God, but then we suffer because of it. The denial of self and following Christ is not easy. The godless culture presses harder upon us. It would be easier to deny Christ. And so let this warning convict your hearts, and repent of your weakness. And trust the promises of Christ, including the promises of forgiveness, for these promises will not fail! Know that the sufferings of this present time are worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in you in the day of Jesus Christ! May God plant our roots firmly and deeply in these promises.
Finally, some of the seeds fall on thorny soil. The Word enters the ears and hearts of a person. It looks promising, the faith begins to flourish, but the thorns and weeds eventually grow, that is the cares, pleasures and riches of life. These choke out faith.
Like the trials and temptations, it’s not the cares, riches and pleasures that are to blame for the loss of faith, but rather the thorny soil is to blame. It is the heart that loves the world, with all its riches and pleasures. This is a description of our hearts isn’t it? Where do we place our source of happiness? Do we look for it in the things, riches and pleasures of the world? Is it in having a good home, a stable life, a good name in the community? Is it in enjoying the pleasures the world has to offer? Is it in being healthy? These are good things. But the threat is that our thorny hearts make these things our gods, so that our worldly hearts choke out faith in God.
And so, may this warning enter your ears and pierce your hearts that you repent of the worldliness of your hearts, that every weed may be killed, and so that faith in God may not be smothered by the love for the world, as it did to Demas, who was a co-worker with Paul in the ministry, and of whom Paul said, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.”
But then receive that Word of Gospel, which powerfully forgives you your sins, saves you, strengthens your faith, and implants itself in your hearts more firmly, so that it may produce in you the fruits of heavenly joy, peace with God, a godly life, a bold confidence resting in God’s promises, and a heart that clings firmly to Christ your Lord and Savior.
It is not just a string of letters, but it is the truth of God’s Word which not only carries meaning and information, but carries with it the very forgiveness and salvation for which Christ gave up His life.
And therefore, rejoice in the Word cast upon you! For it is God’s good and gracious will for you that it enter into your ears, and be received into your hearts for your eternal salvation. You are forgiven all of your sins for the sake of Jesus’ death on the cross for you. Every hardness, rock, and thorn in your heart is removed for His sake. He will guard and keep you through the heat of every trial and temptation, for you are God’s dear redeemed people. You live each day under His love, and every heavenly blessing is yours. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.