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Sexagesima – Luke 8:4-15

by pastorjuhl ~ February 11th, 2013

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

            For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Those who despise God’s Word, those who do not even hear it, are lost. There are those, however, who hear God’s Word that are lost. Why is this so? Why are many of those who hear the Word of God lost?

They are lost because many indeed hear the Word of God, but by their own fault do not come to faith. Jesus refers to this in the parable of the soils into which the Seed of the Word is sown. Many indeed hear the Word. The Word is preached to them as strongly as to others. The sower has only one kind of seed, the Seed of the Word of God. It’s not the seed’s fault that many hear the Word but do not come to faith. It’s not the sower’s fault, for he only sows the seed.

It is the hearer’s fault that the seed does not take root and bear fruit. Jesus says The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The hearer hinders the Word through their reluctance of allowing the Word to enter and work on their flesh. They give room to the world and to the devil and allow God’s work to be frustrated among them. They sit in pews much like these, pay attention to the Word preached and read, yet leave God’s house as if nothing happened. The Gospel may be for some, but it’s not for them. The Word is heard only for judgment and greater condemnation. This is why Jesus speaks in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

Many of those who hear the Word of God are lost because they come to faith through hearing the Word, but by their own fault do not persevere in the Word. Again, the seed is good, the Word is living, powerful, and active. Nevertheless, the seed never receives proper nourishment. Christian congregations have many seeds that lay on the rock. These are the ones who once sat in these pews, hearing and gladly hearkening to the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. But Pastor so-and-so left, or Pastor so-and-so said or did something they did not like. Someone two pews over offended them. Or they just got tired of the church thing. There’s too much politics in the church. People are always asking you to do things. Can’t a person just sit and not be bothered to give money or to attend Bible Study or serve as an officer of the congregation?

Perhaps the one who once sat over there had some bad things happen in their life. Tribulation and temptation came to them and they gave way to the flesh and just quit coming to Divine Service. The modern convenience of Caller ID and email make it easy to ignore a phone call or email asking them why they haven’t been to church. Door-to-door visits fall under the same trap. You don’t have to answer the door. Maybe the people from church will just go away and leave me alone so I can deal with my “god” on my own.

One way you deal with “god” on your own is when you come to Divine Service each weekend to live for God’s kingdom, but also live beside and under the world. Your heart fills up with earthly cares and treasures. Perhaps there was a time when you had no interest in earthly matters. You always had time to help at church. After a while, life gets in the way and, well, church will have to wait until I have time or until I can get over my troubles. Then I can jump in with both feet wet and get back in the groove.

Rare are the times when that actually happens. We rejoice when those who have stayed away from God’s house returns. The Gifts are waiting for them, and they won’t be disappointed. We also are sad when excuses are made by those who, by their actions, simply do not care to partake of the Gifts with fellow sinners, unless that partaking happens on their terms. Spiritual life atrophies when terms are dictated to God. The ultimate result is death. 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.

So where’s the Gospel amid the 75-percent of soil that will not accept the Seed of the Word of God. Seems like a tragic parable with little hope of joy for anyone, let alone faithful Christians. There is joy, but that joy is in only a few. Tragic, yes. But that’s the way it is with the Seed of the Word of God. Jesus says shortly after today’s Holy Gospel: 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.

The watchword of our Savior is “hear”. Three chapters later in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it. God’s Word is meant to be heard more then read. The ancient Church did not have the convenience of a Bible in every home. Christians then came to Divine Service to hear the Word read aloud and applied to their lives in preaching. Where the Word is heard and gladly kept, nourished in baptismal water and the Lord’s Supper, there the Word bears abundant fruit.

The Lord sows. The Lord waters. The Lord provides growth. The Lord does not make the seed fail. You and I cause that sad event to happen when we allow the devil and the world to stop the seed from taking root and bearing fruit. The way to end the tragedy of dead seeds and no fruit is to hear the Word, to hearken to what it says and gladly appropriate it through faith in the sinless Son of God Who sows the Seed, waters the soil of your heart, and provides abundant fruit.

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. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

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

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