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Sexagesima – Luke 8:4-15

by pastorjuhl ~ February 9th, 2012

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            Jesus is nice enough to give us the key to understanding this parable. Nevertheless, the snippet of Luke chapter eight heard today does not include one key verse shortly after the parable. Jesus says in verse 18: Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. How do you deal with what Jesus says here? Where do you begin? You begin here: He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Whoever does not properly hear the Word hears it to their judgment. There are times when you hear the Word, but it goes in one ear and out the other, especially when God’s Law is proclaimed to show your sin. The Word is also not properly heard when you hear it without devout attention, as if it is one word among many words. When the Word of God becomes mere habit, or when you hear it but hate everything that it says to you, then you hear the Word to your judgment. This was the case for the vast majority of hearers at the time of Christ, and still is today. When one receives the Seed of the Word, there is no room for it; the Seed does not take root.

The result is that such a hearer never comes to faith in Christ. They might believe for a time, but get angry with the Word because they have not received what they thought they might receive, especially in times of trial. They might refuse to hear the Word altogether, so the devil comes and takes the Seed away. The example you have seen perhaps the most among the three soils not receiving the Seed is the last one Jesus speaks about in the parable. As for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. The Seed of the Word, in all three cases, serves only for hardening the heart and for judgment.

The preaching of Christ, the preaching of the Gospel must serve to harden them; especially the parables of the Lord. These are dark mysteries that they could not decipher. By no means do they want to see and hear, and they shall not see and hear. God gradually withdraws light, grace and spirit from them in order that they can no longer grasp and understand heavenly, divine things. Whether or not they hear God’s word outwardly even further, the content of the parables shall be hidden and sealed to them. And the more they hear the Word, the more dull, the worse they become (Stöckhardt).

There may be times when you fit into one of these three soils. Repent. Beware the trap of the devil, the world, and your sinful nature hardening, scorching, and choking the Word of Christ that richly dwells in you. You can’t blame God because He desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. You can’t blame the Seed because it is a good Seed, the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, and a lamp shining in a dark place. When the Seed of the Word falls in the soil of the heart, it cannot lie there without witness in the heart of the hearer.

Consider Saint Stephen’s preaching in Acts chapter seven. Those who heard him preach were enraged and ground their teeth at him…. They cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. Felix the governor of Judea, when he heard Paul speak about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” King Agrippa commented to Paul about his preaching, in a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian? These men in the book of Acts were so close to receiving the Word with great joy, nevertheless they let other matters stand in the way of contrition, repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ.

The question remains, “Am I good soil?” The answer belongs to God. Those who hear the Word in simplicity and humility as God’s Word, as the disciples did in hearing this parable when they asked the Lord what this parable meant, are good soil. How can this be? It is a mystery, one not solved by human reason but solved by God from eternity. The Lord knows those who are His. Place your confidence there. God makes the heart into good land in His Word, especially in the preaching of His Word. Abide in His Word always. Consider Psalm 26: I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.

When you properly hear the Word, the Seed of the Word will rise up in your heart, put down deeper and deeper roots, and put you in a better state to overcome all sorts of troubles in this life. This is not your own doing. It is the work of the Lord in His Word among you. Saint Paul calls the Seed of the Word the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? The answer is no one. Nevertheless, the Seed of the Word brings either the sweet smell of joy or the putrid smell of eternal death. That’s how it will be this side of Paradise. Either the Word will be received with great joy or the Word will be snatched, scorched, or choked.

Because you hear the Word with great joy, because you believe that the Word of Christ made flesh died for your sin and rose for your justification, because you trust in Christ as Savior from sin, death, and hell, because His blood covers you and shields you from the angel of death, because Jesus lives, you also shall live. How could something as beautiful as the Gospel of peace be so despised by the world? Sadly, it is. Jesus says so in this parable.

Jesus also says that the Seed that falls on good soil will bear abundant fruit. The fruit of the seed are good works that flow from faith in Jesus Christ. What you do and how you live among those who know not the Lord Jesus shows the love of God in Christ Jesus. God gives you a particular station in life where you use the talents He gives you to serve others. In doing so, you serve the Lord; you bear abundant fruit.

Take care then how you hear. Your soul is dear to the Lord. Hear His Word with great joy. The Lord will surely give His blessing. Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. They see and hear the Kingdom of God that comes in His Word, the Kingdom that is yours because of Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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