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Sermon for Sexagesima

by chaz_lehmann ~ February 13th, 2009

Rev. Charles Lehmann + Sexagesima + Luke 8:4-15

In the Name of + Jesus.  Amen.

I know almost nothing about farming.  I know that it’s hard work.  I know that weather can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  I know that it can be a frustrating profession.  But beyond that, I know very little.  But as little as I know about farming, I do know this.  If you want to make a living as a farmer, the last thing that you want to do is to plant your crops the way the Sower does in today’s Gospel reading.

The Sower doesn’t plow.  He doesn’t fertilize.  He doesn’t check the weather.  He doesn’t test the soil.  He doesn’t even let the ground dry after a hard rain.  And if the Sower had done all these things, it still wouldn’t have mattered.  The Sower in our reading doesn’t pay attention to where He’s throwing the seed, and so even if He makes sure every clump of soil is meticulously prepared, most of the Sower’s seed won’t fall on it.

Only one in four seeds has a chance.  The rest are either eaten by birds, can’t find water, or they are choked by thorns.  That’s no way to plant your crop.  Every seed has to count if it can.  Every seed that is cast on bad soil is a seed that would have been better not planted at all.

Imagine how much it would cost if you planted corn the way the Sower of our reading sows His seed?  Your driveway and all the roads through your fields would be covered.  Every tractor rut would be filled.  If you had a patch of trees, you’d throw the seed there.  If you had a rock pile, you’d throw the seed there.  Kernels of corn would slide down your roof and clog your rain gutters.  Every available surface on your farm would be covered with the stuff.  You would spend far more on seed than you could ever hope to earn from your harvest.

The kind of farming that we see in today’s parable is absolute nonsense.  It’s poor stewardship of resources.  It’s wasteful to the level of insanity.  No farmer in Garrett County does business this way, and if they did, we would quietly shake our heads as they fell into economic ruin.  They’d only be getting what they deserve.

But the Sower of today’s Gospel reading does not think like you or me.  The Sower is God, and He throws His seed everywhere.  He desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  And so he keeps sowing without end.  He throws good seed after bad.  The devil can’t snatch it all.  Some of the plants will take root.  And the cares and concerns of the world won’t be enough to choke them all.

God is relentless.  He never gives up.  No matter how many times He is rejected, He keeps sending forth His Word.  And God’s persistent love for those who have rejected Him is nothing new.  The Old Testament is the story of how God continually tried to woo his people away from idolatry.  The Israelites were always looking to other gods for the good that could only come from Christ.  And so, over and over again, God showed them that false gods can only bring destruction.  Over and over, God showed the Israelites that they could find peace, safety, and life everlasting only in Him.

When the Lord said that He was a jealous God, it was because He knew that His people could receive no good thing apart from Him.  He didn’t want them to look anywhere else for what they needed.  He had the good stuff, and He wanted them to have it.

And so, when the Israelites ran off to other gods, the Lord punished them.  He rained down wrath on them so that they would be broken, plowed under, and dead to themselves.  But the Lord never spoke a word of wrath out of hatred.  God afflicts us only to save us.  He destroys every idol so that we will depend entirely on Him and His mercy.

Throughout all history, the Lord has sought repentance, and so He has never stopped sowing His seed of Law and Gospel.  He speaks the words of eternal life over and over again.  He never despairs of His people even though He knows in His divine foreknowledge that some will never live in the repentance that He desires to give to them.

If we looked at the world and saw the sort of persistent love that God shows us, we’d find it to be a little bit strange.  If Hollywood made a movie about it, it would either be the kind of movie that your wife makes you go to on Valentines day, or it would be the kind that makes you lock your bedroom door at night.

In the movie, a man would be so madly in love with a woman that he would call her, send cards, and buy her chocolate for years and years.  Even after she’d rejected him hundreds of times, he’d keep trying to win her heart.  Nothing would stop him.  Even if she got married, he would keep showering her with his love.  He would claim that the man she was with didn’t love her as much as he did.  He would say that the man she loved was actually abusive and mean.  He would try over and over to show her that he was the only one who truly loved her.

The movie could end two different ways.  In the first, the lovestruck man would be jailed for stalking or maybe even killed by the other man in a dramatic final confrontation.  As right and just as this ending might seem to us, it is really tragic.  Our hero is forever separated from the object of his love. He is rejected eternally.  But in the other ending, we learn the truth.  We find out that our hero was actually married to the woman all along.  The woman had rejected her husband and run off to another man who didn’t really love her.  But her faithful husband wasn’t willing to let her go.  He continued to love her unconditionally even after she rejected him, and he won her back in the end.

That is the story of God’s love for us.  When Jesus went to the cross, suffered, died, and won forgiveness for all of your sins, He was offering Himself to you in marriage.  He was giving all that He had to you.  He gave His life, His holiness, and His perfect relationship with His Father.  All that He has became yours on the cross.  And in faith, you have received the Lord’s love.

But the Lord’s seed does not always fall on fertile soil.  For some of us, our relationship is a rocky one.  The word doesn’t take root and after the initial joy of our marriage to God fades, we begin, like Israel, to look for greener pastures.  We serve gods of our own imagining: money, pride, or a good reputation.  Some of us do well until calamity strikes, and then we begin to blame God for our suffering.  Our love fades, and again, we look for some other god to fill the void.

Some don’t even hear the Lord’s marriage proposal in the first place.  Satan snatches it from their ears.  They continue on their own without even knowing what they could be receiving from the Lord who went to the cross to save them.

Whatever the soil, whomever the person, the sower sows his reckless love.  He will not stop sowing just because His love is scorned.  There are no conditions on His free offer of salvation.  There is no sin that will make Him stop scattering His seed.

The Lord desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  The Lord desires that you repent and believe the Gospel.  There is a way in which both endings of the movie apply to us here and now.  When the Lord came into His creation to win back those whom He loved, they nailed Him to a cross.  It was our sin that the Father punished on that day.  It was not just Roman soldiers that killed God.  It was you and me.

But the story does not end there for you, people loved by God.  Your sin could not keep Jesus in the grave.   He burst forth, glorious from the tomb.  He sent out His apostles with seed to sow.  They wrote down His very words.  They preached them to the world.  And you have benefited from the Lord’s reckless love.  You have Him sing His song of love for you.

And so, no matter how many times you reject your Savior, you can know one thing for sure.  He loves you.  He will always send His word to convict you of our sin and to comfort you with His forgiveness.  He desires for you to be His bride forever.  It’s serious business for Him.  It’s as serious as His death for your life.

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

2 Responses to Sermon for Sexagesima

  1. Paul Beisel

    Excellent sermon.

  2. chaz_lehmann

    Thanks, Paul.

    I wasn’t wild about the movie analogy as I wrote it. And that part might take a different shape when I preach it.

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