Sermon Text: Proper 10A The soil of our hearts is barren until God’s Word makes it fruitful

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Sunday Online Church at Home Service: SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Proper 10A: The soil of our hearts is barren until God’s Word makes it fruitful

  1. I think most people resonate to a really well told story, especially those that have a deeper meaning
    1. We have several well-known authors of such stories in Western society
      1. The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Aesop
      1. The tales were meant to teach children lessons about proper behavior and morals and we remember many of the stories all of our lives
    1. We think of Jesus the same way, but was He really such a good communicator?
      1. I ask because almost every homiletics book I read tells us pastors to communicate in good stories like Jesus
      1. He used everyday images that His society would have readily recognized and identified with, but did they get it?
      1. I ask the question based on the verses that AREN’T included in our Gospel lesson today, “Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered, “because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Mt 13:10, 13)
      1. It seems that Jesus told parables that were NOT meant to be understood, even the Apostle didn’t get them until He explained them as we see in our Gospel lesson today.
  2. But was the problem with the one telling the parable (the sower), the parable (the seed) or the hearer (soil)? Let’s see.
    1. Perhaps the problem is with the sower
      1. A sower sows seed wherever he can in hopes that the yield would come from even unexpected places
      1. Jesus was sent to proclaim to the world that He fulfilled what had been foretold in the prophets and Law, seeking the lost in unexpected places
      1. Jesus never squandered an opportunity to proclaim the Word to anyone
      1. Furthermore, Jesus as the Son of God, knew the hearts and minds of all those He came in contact with as we hear often in the Gospels – so the problem is not with the sower.
    1. Perhaps the problem is with the seed (the Word)
      1. Maybe it isn’t hardy enough variety to produce growth
      1. But Jesus came preaching God’s Word which as our OT lesson says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
      1. Or as the author of Hebrews tells, The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…and Jesus tells us that His words are life.
      1. So, the problem is NOT with the Word – it will do its job
  3. Then if it’s not the sower or the seed, it must have to do with the soil (us) – the soil of our hearts is barren until God’s Word makes it fruitful.
    1. First He explains the seed sown along the path, When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown…(Mt 13:19)
      1. There is no soil along the path, the seed wasn’t bad, it just didn’t have any soil to grow in – these people have no room for God in their lives
      1. That’s the uncle, the in-law, friend etc to whom you may well have witnessed but the Word goes nowhere, they’ll deny it to your face
      1. Commenting on them Luther says, “Therefore, if you see a person who permits himself to be talked to and preached to as to a log, and the whole matter amounts to as much as if one strikes into water, …. then think nothing else than that the devil has sat down in his heart and snatches the seed, the Word of God, away…”
    1. Then the seed that fell in the shallow soil, As for what was 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. (Mt 13:20-21)
      1. Their concern is not for the kingdom but their own comfort, the seed did what it should do the problem was the soil
      1. When it’s apparent that faith may mean sacrifice, they’re gone they’d rather be free to indulge their own passions
      1. They want the crown (the benefits of faith) without the cross
    1. Finally, the seed that fell among the weeds,…the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word…(Mt 13:22)
      1. Like the previous group, these are the temporary Christians, their faith was real but they allowed the world to choke it off
      1. Entangled in the concerns of the day something else is always too pressing to hear the Word and come to church – but they’ll “get back to it one of these days when things settle down…”
  4. Jesus was speaking in absolute terms: those who hear and believe and those who don’t, so you might think we’d get a pass because we’re here receiving the Word
    1. But these types can even characterize believers, too
      1. Maybe you don’t want to hear what the Word of God is plainly telling you about certain areas of your life, you won’t hear it, so Satan has taken that Word away
      1. Maybe it gets a little hot in the kitchen and you suffer embarrassment for the faith (because we don’t suffer otherwise) and you shut down – the spirit may be willing but the flesh is indeed weak
      1. Maybe you’ve let the cares and concerns of your life keep you from attending the Word as regularly as you know you need to, but you’ll get back to it when things slow down
    1. Praise God that His Word is strong and effective when we are weak and He is generous with the seed that He casts
      1. As Isaiah told us it will accomplish the purpose for which He sends it
      1. Our Lord says through Jeremiah, “Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
    1. That rock is the rock of stony, sinful hearts – your hearts, my heart we all need to be in the Word (read, preached, etc) regularly or we won’t produce fruit – the soil of our hearts is barren until God’s Word makes it fruitful
      1. A farmer doesn’t plant seed once and expect it to grow indefinitely, every year the farmer has to plant new seed
      1. And our Lord has knit us together in this communion for just that purpose that we might gather together, hear His Word proclaimed and taught regularly that we might be fruitful year in and year out
      1. There are so many avenues to further cultivate your faith – private devotion (Portals of Prayer to start) or Sunday and Wednesday Bible Study.
      1. That the Word may do for you what the rain and snow do according to the passage from Isaiah, that your faith and life may bring forth an abundant harvest, a thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold more!