8th Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
13:1 ¶ That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach.
3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,
6 but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away.
7 Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
9 He who has ears, let him hear."
18 "Hear then the parable of the sower.
19 When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path.
20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
21 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.
22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."RSV
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Our gospel lesson this morning is the familiar story of the sower and the seed.
Jesus tells us this parable to speak about the Word of God among us. This parable is about sowing and seed growing. It is about the right kind of ground, the right soil or the right heart.
The first thing I would like you to notice about the sowing, is that the sower, God is a broadcast sower. He does not drill the seeds into the ground, he does not make holes and then drops the seed in, he scatters the seed along the ground as he goes.
As the sower sows, he expects a harvest regardless of where the seeds have landed. He expects a harvest, Why else would he sow.
Here in Iowa, the farmers go to the fields each spring and sow seeds. They do it mechanically with tractors, and seed planters, but they go to the fields expecting to plant and then after the long growing season, they expect to be back in the fields in the fall with the combines to harvest the fruits of their labors. They expect to harvest corn and soybeans. They go to the fields each spring with a new excitement, a renewed energy as they plant their seeds and wait for the harvest.
And that reminds me of a story from my youth. It is a story about my Grandfather, Grandpa Spachtholz, and my brother. Grandpa loved to garden. He grew up in Germany and worked in a greenhouse, but when he came to America, the job he got was working for the telephone company because he knew tools.
But Grandpa loved to garden and around his house he had glorious flower and vegetable gardens.
Well, on day, my brother was eating a watermelon and after he finished he decided to go out and plant those seeds to see if they would grow. But you have to understand it was already the middle of July.
He planted the seeds, he watered them and everyday he would look to see if anything was growing. Finally, a few sprouts came through the ground and he was really excited. he could almost taste the watermelon he was hoping to eat.
The plants continued to grow and grow. But fall came fast. No melons.
One day upon arriving home from school, Jim, ran to his melon patch to see if there were any melons. And low and behold, there was one medium size melon. Jim ran into the house screaming for us to come. Mom, Grandpa and I had been watching all the time. Grandpa had come and tied one of his melons to the vine in such a way that you had to look very carefully to see that it was not attached. Jim went with Grandpa to pick that melon, he was somewhat disappointed that his patch did not produce it, but he vowed next year he would plant early and have his own melon.
The reason I told you that story is because Jim was excited about his seeds and the harvest they would bring, and when he saw the harvest, he could not contain his excitement.
And I believe that Jesus told us this parable about the sower and the seed, because God’s excitement about sowing the seeds of salvation, that the faith and hope of a harvest was just like Jim’s.
The sower of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a broadcast sower. He scatters the seeds along the ground in hopes that they might flourish and grow.
But Jesus also tells us that some of those seeds won’t grow. Some are scattered on the path and since the ground is hard from all the walking on it, they do not take root and grow. The birds then come and eat them.
Jesus is saying that some people are so harden when it comes to the gospel that they will never believe in the saving work of Jesus on the cross.
Willy was a young man who had decided he was going to be an atheist when his prayers for his mothers healing feel on deaf ears. After his mothers death he felt there could be no God. He came to church camp and some seeds feel on that hard ground, he tried to understand what God wanted to do in his life, but he still could not deal with his mothers death leaving him with his alcohol prone father.1
Willy could never believe there was a god of love, loving him.
Jesus tells us that other seeds that were sown landed on rocky ground, the soil was shallow, and the seeds could not take root. So they grew a little and then faded away.
These seeds are those people who come to church, but never develop and root system and are easily turned away from the church.
A pastor wrote:
I was talking with a farmer about his soy bean and corn crops. Rain had been abundant, and the results were evident. So the farmer’s comment surprised him: "My crops are especially vulnerable. Even a short drought could have a devastating effect." "Why?" Orchard asked.
The farmer explained that while we see the frequent rains as a benefit, during that time the plants are not required to push roots deeper in search of water. The roots remain near the surface. A drought would find the plants unprepared and quickly kill them.
Some Christians receive abundant "rains" of worship, fellowship, and teaching. Yet when stress enters their lives, many suddenly abandon God or think him unfaithful. Their roots have never pushed much below the surface.2
We need to develop a deep root system in our lives with those in the church so when troubles come and they will, we will be able to turn to those people for help.
In his book "Life Together" Bonhoeffer says this about the Christian community and our need for one another;
"God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother/sister, in the mouth of a man/ woman. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him/her. He/she needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother, his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure."3
We need each other’s faith to remain strong in our own faith.
The Lord continues to broadcast his seeds and some fell among the thorns and the thorns grew up around them and choked them.
These are people who hear the word, but the cares of the world surround them, and choke the word. These are the people who let the riches and the power of money invade their lives.
Like the people in the following:
The children of a certain family, during a period of prosperity, were left in a nursery in the care of servants. At length a depression came, the servants were discharged, and the parents once again cared for their little ones. One evening, when the father returned from business, his little girl affectionately said, "Papa, don’t get rich again. We didn’t see you much then. But now we can be around you." The father suddenly realized how empty his life had been when he was busy feverishly making money."
The thorns choke the word and people loose sight of the important things around them.
The sower continues to broadcast the seeds and some fall on good ground and they grow and mature and bear fruit.
These are the people who hear the word of God, take it seriously, and live their lives for God and their neighbor. They produce fruit.
They produce fruit in their faith life as they regularly attend church, study the word, take communion and tell others about Christ. They produce fruit as they look at the community around them and reach out a hand of love those need it.
I would like to close with a peom that speaks to our faith and helping others.
A poem written by Edgar Guest as found in "Doing the Gospel"a sermon book by James Bjorge.
"I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day:......
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell me the way......
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear....
Fine counseling is confusing but example’s always clear.....
And the best of all the preachers are the ones who live their creeds......
For to see good put into action is what every body needs...................
I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done.....
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run......
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,.......
But I’d rather get lessons by observing what you do;.......
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give....
But there is no misunderstanding how you act and how you live......
When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind....
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind...
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me..
to become a big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.......
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today....
Is not the one who tells them but the one who shows the way......
One good person teaches many, people believe what they behold....
One deed of kindness noticed worth forty that are told.....
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,......
For right living speaks a language which to everyone is clear....
Though an able speaker charms with his eloquence I say.........
I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.
" As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
Written by Pastor Tim zingale July 4, 2005
1 from a sermon by Douglas Vincent found on SermonCentral
2 Greg Yount found on SermonCentral
3 `Life Together" Bonhoeffer pg 23