Dear believers in Christ, baptized of God. God’s will is that we continue to be strengthened, rooted, and grounded by the seed of His Word. Our eternal life depends on it. The devil, the world, our sinful flesh will continue to attack our faith in the Word. The devil is a master of planting the seed of doubt. He’s been at it since the very beginning when he succeeded in tempting Adam and Even to doubt God’s Word. But our one defense is the Word. For “faith cometh by hearing, hearing by the Word of God.”
The devil knows that’s our one defense and so he attacks it. And he tries to pull us away from the Word. Later we will see how he uses the very things that God intends as blessings, as thorns, to crowd out thoughts of God and His Word. How important it is that we continue in God’s Word and treasure it above all else. “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.”
Like seed, God’s Word has power. “For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” The Word of God is not empty. It calms our fears and removes our doubts. Since Jesus is risen from the grave, that must mean our sins are forgiven and eternal life is ours. Jesus says, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” God’s Spirit works through the Word to bring us the knowledge of salvation, that God is for us, not against us. Although we deserve only condemnation for being sinners, yet God “gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He took upon Himself our condemnation and, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned.”
God’s will is that we continue to be strengthened, rooted, and grounded by His word. So Jesus tells a story. A farmer plants seed, but he is so generous that he throws it everywhere. He almost seems reckless, throwing it not only on good ground, but also on a road, on a rock, and among thorns.
In the parable, God is the farmer, and His Word is the seed that is cast. The farmer’s “recklessness” represents the compassion of our Heavenly Father who wants not a single soul to perish. So He spreads His saving Gospel among all nations. It is His will for all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. So He says, “Preach the Gospel to every creature.”
But what kind of farmer would throw any kind of seed, thistle seeds, or dandelion seeds into his field? “Any old kind of seed will do. Weeds are just fine by me.” No farmer on earth would say or do that. Because only good seed will produce a good crop. His livelihood depends on it. But the devil is a clever adversary. He mixes lies with the truth, saying, any word will do, as long as it’s a church building, as long as we walk away with a warm feeling – any word will do. But Scripture is clear: Jesus says to teach “All things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Today it is so common to disregard the parts of Scripture that are harder to accept. Yet, God says, “Lean not unto thine own understanding.” “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
So as the sower sowed his seed “some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.” Everyone knows that a road is not a very good place to grow crops. In Jesus’ day there were pathways between the sections of farmland, where people would walk freely. So before the seed even had a chance to grow, people would walk on it, and birds would also come and snatch it away.
Jesus explains, “Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” But it’s not all the devil’s fault. “The devil made me do it”, will not excuse anyone on Judgment Day. Hearts that give themselves over to every evil lust and desire become as hard as a road. And the devil is more than ready to use this opportunity to snatch the word away before it’s even given a chance to take root.
Yet, that doesn’t mean all is lost. Scripture says there is joy in heaven over every sinner who repents. No one should believe it is too late for him. God’s grace welcomes all sinners to find rest and healing in the arms of Jesus.
“And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.” A little bit of dirt on top of a rock is enough for a seed to start growing, but the roots have no where to go. Jesus explains, “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.”
Peter believed, when things were going well. But as soon as Christ was captured, and he realized that he too could be captured and persecuted for his faith, he fell away. The roots of his faith weren’t deep. By Grace, God later restored him. But many Christians today too are very happy to accept the good news of salvation, but fail to count the cost of being a true disciple of Christ. “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.”
“And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.” A good farmer not only plants his crop but takes care of it. He weeds out unwanted and harmful plants, like thistles and thorns.
Jesus explains, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” God has blessed us with countless earthly gifts. We have so many different ways to spend our time on earth, and enjoy life. But the devil is clever in using these very things against us, making them into idols that can completely replace love for God and love for His Word. The earthly blessings themselves are not evil, but Scripture says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
Only with God’s Spirit working in us through the Word, are we able to put God and His Word first, only by continuing in God’s Word. “We are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.” And God’s power for us is in His Word.
“Other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.” “That on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Jesus calls the good ground a good and honest heart. By God’s grace we are honest about our sins, that we don’t have any righteousness of our own. Jesus describes us this way, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
This is the ground in which the seed can and does grow, the heart that realizes our great need for grace. We love to hear how Christ accomplished everything needful for our salvation. And we need to hear it. We need to hear how Jesus earned forgivness for the whole world through His suffering and death. We need to hear how He rose from the grave and promises we too will rise. We need to hear how His heart yearns for our salvation, and how there is joy in heaven over every single sinner who repents and believes the Gospel. We need to hear how Christ will receive anyone who comes to him, no matter how dark his past has been. “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”
There are countless ways to spend our time, but one thing is needful. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God, and keep it. “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.”
God’s will is that we continue to be strengthened, rooted, and grounded by the seed of His Word. This is how we repel all the attacks of the devil, not by our own reason or strength, but by the power of God’s Word. By remembering our Baptism, by partaking of the true body and blood of the Savior. And He will continue to cause much fruit to spring up from the seed He’s planted and grown in our hearts. God grant that we continue in the seed of God’s Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.