Summary: Do we live our lives open to God? We need to allow the seed of God's word to penetrate into fertile soil of our heart.
4th Pentecost 11
The soil of your heart.
In the 19th Century and into the first part of the 20th (before radar was invented) ships avoided each other by looking out for beacons or lights on other ships.
And they communicated with each other by flashing messages to each other by light in a sort of Morse code. One day a battleship was out on maneuvers and the captain of the battleship saw a beacon on the horizon.
He realized that his ship was on a collision course with it. So he called his signaler and told him. "Flash the following signal over there “We are on a collision course, we advise you change course 20 degrees."
The reply came back "Advise you to change your course 20 degrees."
The captain signaled back, "Who do you think you are - telling a Captain in the Royal Navy what to do."
The response came back "I’m a seaman second class, you’d better change your course 20 degrees.”
By this time the captain was furious. He signaled back "I’m a battleship. I have no intention of changing my course. Change your course 20 degrees."
The reply came back: "I’m a lighthouse. Be my guest."
For the Christian, Jesus is the lighthouse in the storms of life. And it is at our peril that we ignore him. The Bible is God’s manual for life. It tells us how to live our lives as God the Creator designed us to live. And in it we find the marvelous teaching that Jesus has given us by which we can live our lives.
Jesus gave much of his teaching in the form of stories that we call parables. In this morning’s Gospel, we see Jesus down by the sea. And he used a boat to go out from the shore so he could speak to the mass of people more easily. Your voice travels better on water than on land – unless there is a storm!
Jesus used simple everyday metaphors to explain complicated theological ideas. You can also usually tell who is in the crowd that Jesus is speaking because of the types of parables He tells. Basically, Jesus put complicated things simply. And the thrust of this morning’s parable is simply that it is not enough to simply hear Jesus’ fine words. He wants us to put them into action
For many the distance between the ear and the heart is a mighty long one!
In the Parable, the various soils signify that there are four possible reactions when we hear the word of God.
1. The first ground of Jesus’ parable is the pathway. The seed doesn’t grow because the path has been so trodden down that the seed can’t penetrate the ground. So it lies on top and the birds pick it up.
This ground represents the hearts of people who hear Jesus’ words and are just not interested in them. They can’t be bothered and think Jesus’ teaching is foolish. And for such people, Jesus’ words are soon forgotten.
One such person was Joseph Stalin, one of the great mass murderers of all time. But when Stalin was a young man, he went to a theological college, but in later years he rejected the wonderful teaching of Jesus to embrace the harshness of communism.
2. The second type of soil in Jesus’ parable is the rocky ground with shallow soil.
The seed starts to grow and puts down roots but because there is not sufficient soil for the roots to grow the plant withers away. This soil signifies people who would like to be disciples of Jesus, but don’t put in the effort needed, they don’t find regular time for prayer and Bible Study.
Many times these are the people who come to church at Christmas and Easter – and think this is enough. But sadly the word of God doesn’t take root deeply in their hearts and they soon drift away from Christian living. If you asked them they would say they are Christian – but they are Christian in name only.
Are we like the rocky soil? We hear the good news of God and at first receive it with joy but don’t really allow the roots of God’s Word to go very deep. Perhaps when you were younger you may have watched Billy Graham on TV, or responded to an invitation at church and asked Jesus into your heart to forgive you of your sin. Perhaps you found joy and peace in that moment, perhaps God made some changes in your life, but then you never did anything after that. You never found a church to worship and grow in, a fellowship of other believers to help them in their faith journey. You never cracked open a Bible to get nourishment from God’s word. You never made any adjustments in your lifestyle. In other words your roots never went very deep. You never spent time getting to know this Lord that you allowed into your heart. Your spiritual life in Jesus is very shallow.