Summary: Sermon for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost dealing with spreading God's word.
Matthew 13: 1 – 9, 18 – 23 / Seeds By The Sea
Intro: The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what he said. One evening during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. As each person passed down the line shaking his hand he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” Most of the guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you.” Toward the end of the line while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, his words were actually heard. The ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”
I. I must confess that sometimes I feel like that on Sunday mornings. I wonder if the congregation is really hearing what I say even with the sound system working.
A. The parable of the Sower or Soils is one of 6 such parables found in the Synoptic Gospels of MT, MK and LK. In each case the parables begin and end with the admonition to “listen.”
B. VS. 1 – 3 There were so many people present that Jesus sat in a boat and admonished them to LISTEN!!!
C. How difficult do you think it would have been to “hear” Jesus without a sound system to amplify his voice? Actually, the main reason I began preaching from the center aisle was the church I served in Texas had no sound system. In an effort to be better heard, I moved closer to the people.
II. “We retain 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent of what we hear, 30 percent of what we see, 50 percent of what we hear and see, 70 percent of what we say, and 90 percent of what we say and do.”(From Keys to Success, page 183)
A. There are just as many barriers to “hearing” God’s word today as there were in the time of Jesus, perhaps even more so. The “word” or “seed” hasn’t changed; but, the world’s attitude toward hearing it definitely has.
B. Those gathered by the sea long ago would have been familiar with the methods used to “sow” the seed. It was a common practice to broadcast the seed and then plow it into the earth.
C. VS. 18 – 23 Jesus explains the relationship between the seed and the ground on which it falls.
III. The hearers of the words of Jesus fell into 4 categories: hard soil, rocky soil, weed-infested soil and good well-kept soil. In each case, Jesus explained how God’s word would be received.
A. Present-day evangelism techniques often emphasize plowing first: do your demographic work, determine your target audience, and then, develop your communication strategies to fit your target population.
B. One never knows with certainty what soil types actually exist. What appears to be good soil, may be concealing rocks or the seeds of weeds. Neither the pastor nor the church knows the quality of the soil before sowing.
C. As disciples of Christ Jesus we must cast the gospel as broadly as possible with no guarantee where it will land. On Sunday mornings, we look around the congregation and see people who hare here for all kinds of reasons: persons in crisis who vanish when things get better, the family who comes for the kids until soccer or baseball season starts. It is very easy to get discouraged.
Conclu: Jesus goes beyond simply encouraging his listeners to “keep on keeping on” in the face or rejection of disappointment. Instead, the parable challenges them and us to believe in God’s abundance. The good sower is not so cautious and strategic as to throw the seed in only those places where the chances for growth are best. This is a high-risk sower who relentlessly and indiscriminately throws seed on all soil trusting God for the word to take root and the gospel to sprout and grow.