Jesus tells a story. A farmer plants seed, yet, 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, the Word, the seed, among all nations and races, saying to us, “preach the Gospel to every creature.” Because it is His will for all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
No matter how great our sins may be, the Father still sent His Son to die for all people, even for those who crucified Him. Now Christ is risen from the dead, to never die again, and He raises us to new life by His Word and Spirit. His Word is the invitation for all sinners to come and receive forgiveness and salvation. “Come, for all things are now ready.”
God’s Word is like seed. It has the power. One tiny little seed (that we can’t even hardly see) can turn into a towering tree. Likewise, the Word of God, planted in the heart, can do the impossible. It can turn even a murderer, like Paul, into a great man of God. But most of all, it has the power to save our eternal soul, and it has, and it will. “receive with meekness the engrafted (planted) Word, which is able to save your souls.” “For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”
Why is it so powerful? It’s not just words. Jesus says, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” God’s Spirit works through the Word. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.”
God’s Spirit brings to us the knowledge of salvation, by the Word - Knowledge that God is for us, not against us. We are sinners that deserve eternal condemnation because of our sins, yet, God sent His Son, His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. He took upon Himself our condemnation. “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned.”
The wisdom of the world, says, “Come on. We gotta have something more than just God’s Word.” But we notice that there are not 4 different kinds of seed. There is only 1 kind of seed. There are different kinds of soil, but there’s only one kind of seed. The Word of God always has the same authority, and power, and capability. Unfortunately, people receive it differently.
That’s the unfortunate news in today’s Gospel lesson. It clearly states that there are those who reject God’s Word. But let not that fact discourage you, or cause you any despair, believers in Christ. God’s will is that you be strengthened by these words, and ever more so, rooted, and grounded in His grace and forgiveness. In fact, His promise is that He will keep you until your very last day, as He continues to nurture the seed planted in your heart. He reminds you of your Baptism. “ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
You can be confident the Lord will continue to nurture the seed of His (life-giving) Word in your heart. He’s the one who planted it there. He’s the one who will keep it growing there, as we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
“But come on, we gotta have something more. We gotta get more people in the door with something that will excite people, and soothe their itching ears. We gotta have a clown for the kids. We gotta have games and prizes, and rock bands and food, and movies and popcorn ….”
But Jesus says, actually, only “One thing is needful: And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”, that is, The Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”
And God is not stingy with it. Like seed in the hand of a generous farmer, He throws it everywhere. The desire of His heart of hearts, is that all be saved. “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.”
But not all will be saved. The Word of God is powerful - that’s not the problem. The problem is the different kinds of ground, some of which reject God’s Word. And the problem is that we have the devil, the world, and our flesh, all working against the Word, against true faith in the Word.
The Devil employs a great strategy. To launch an attack on people, he doesn’t necessary always directly attack people. He goes straight for …..the Word of God. In order to attack you, he attacks the Word. And how does the master of deceit, the father of lies, attack the Word? He lies. The truth of God’s Word says God would have all to be saved. The devil says, did God really say that? In fact, before it can even take root, in many cases, like seed thrown on a road, the devil comes along and snatches it away, saying, “The Bible is just a bunch of fables written by men, passed down, you really don’t need to pay it much attention.” Before even giving it a chance, many reject it.
Others are like the rocky ground. They receive the Word immediately with joy. But they treat it like a passing fad. As soon as temptation comes knocking, it’s clear that God’s Word never really meant that much to them anyway. And so, they fall away.
“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.”
There again the devil is at work with his lies. God has provided many earthly blessing for our benefit, but the devil comes with his lie, saying, “go ahead and love them, love money. Look at everything money provides for you. Place your trust in it, not in God.” But it’s like a mirage. When we actually get to the top of that mountain of wealth, perhaps even millions of dollars, it turns out there’s nothing there. It can do absolutely nothing to satisfy our eternal soul. And “what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul”?
The fourth, and final type of ground “are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
By God’s grace, the Word of God isn’t just a passing fad for us. It means everything, because we have no rightousness of our own, no worthiness at all by which we could stand before God. But the Word brings to us Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and risen for us. So like Mary, by God’s grace, we keep the Word in our heart, and we treasure it, we value it above all else. Everything else will pass away. Everything we own in this life will fade away. But the Word of God endures forever, and those who cling to it, and the eternal Savior who gives it, will endure forever.
If anyone realizes that their heart has been like the way side, or the rock, or that among thorns, There is joy in heaven over every single sinner who repents and believes the Gospel. Christ will receive anyone who comes to Him, no matter how dark his past has been. Jesus has accomplished everything needful for us to be saved. He says, only believe, and you will be saved.
So, “Blessed are they that 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.”
May God’s Spirit then keep us in that one true saving faith, by His Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.