February 8, 2015 A+D
St. Luke 8:4-15
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The parable of the Sower is about the Word of God in the hearts of His children. It is not the Word that is snatched at, tempted, or choked but the people. It is not a parable about four different sorts of people, some of whom have good and noble hearts. Rather it is about the Word of God that circumcises hearts and transforms them from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.
The Lord told this parable as He perceived that that many were coming to hear Him only for the sake of some vain curiosity, to see a spectacle, or with ulterior motives. There is a dark side to the Gospel: not everyone believes. The Lord will not force Himself on anyone. Some reject and are damned. Some hear for a moment but give up when tempted. Some are choked out by worry and greed. There will come a sifting process, a judgment on the last day. God put ears on sinners that they would hear His Word and be warned and in the warning also be changed.
Every Christian endures the attack of demons, the press of temptation, and worries of the flesh. No one gets out un-scathed. Even St. Paul suffered a messenger from Satan to keep him from becoming conceited. This parable is a warning. The attacks you suffer are dangerous. If you does not abide in the Word of God, you will lose your faith and suffer the fate prepared for Satan and his angels on the last day. Repent. None of us fears God’s punishments as we should. All of us have sinned lightly as though our sins were pets.
There is, however, good news in the parable. The Sower keeps on sowing. He does not look for good and noble hearts. He simply looks for hearts, hearts corrupted, hearts weary, hearts afraid. He only saves sinners. He sows His Word without regard to how likely it is to take root and grow for He knows the power is in the seed and not in the soil. He seems reckless, wasteful, to the eyes of men. He is not like our farmers. He does not plot and plan and figure out the most economical way to gain a greater harvest. He simply sows and throws His seed without preparing the soil. He sends out His Word to those need it, to those who cannot save themselves, to those that the demons would claim for themselves.
The disciples are models of faith here. While they did not immediately understand the parable, they were hearing. They were seeking God. The same parable that hid God from unbelievers and even damned them, drew the disciple to listen more closely, to ask Jesus what it meant. They were seeing and hearing what the prophets longed to see and hear. The mysteries of the Kingdom of God were given to them and the mysteries of the Kingdom of God are given to you.
Faith on this side of glory is never satisfied. It always wants more. That is what the discples want. They want answers from Jesus, more from Jesus. The Christian widow might piously declaim that she is at peace because her husband has been relieved of his suffering and she knows where he has gone, but she longs to join him and is eager for the culmination of her faith, for the end of her sorrows and temptations and the end of her mourning. We confess and are confident that Jesus lives, that our sins are forgiven, that He is present for us in the Sacrament of the Altar, but we are still being snatched at, tempted, and choked with worry.
Not only is the will of God sometimes hid from us but so also are some of His Words. We do not understand all that we are given, all that we are promised, and yet we trust, by Grace, that His Word is true, that it is good and He is good and that it is good for us. The only antidote is more of what started it all: more Word, more Jesus.
We will be snatched at, tempted, and threatened by choking worries until we are brought home. Thus God provides a constant and on-going application of the Word. We cannot stand against God’s enemies. We are weak. They are strong. We cannot produce fruit for Him by an act of will or good intentions. But there is a promise: His Word does not return void but accomplishes that for which it was sent.
His Word was sent by the Father to become Flesh and dwell among us. His Word bore all the accusations that might have been leveled against you justly but of which He was innocent. He also bore all the false names, all the slander, that has ever been said against you. His Word was sent to go to the slaughter, to accept the verdict of guilty in your place, and to be killed for crimes that you committed. God cannot die. Yet God as Man, on the cross, died. That which could not be, became, happened, and you were set free. That Word was sent to live and He rose from the dead, God as Man, alive, vindicated to break down the gates of Hell and open heaven to all believers, that you might live. He speaks you righteous. He declares you innocent. There is no one left to accuse you. Instead of thorns, up comes the cypress, up comes you. The Lord bears a harvest of faith, a hundredfold, in you. It is a miracle. For to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, to the one who has more is given. Grace is not fair. Chief of His mysteries is that God became Man, died and rose, to atone for the sins of the world and to make you His, and in that mystery also abides the mystery of the Holy Communion where He comes in that human body and blood risen from the dead to join you to Himself. To you, o most blessed of all people, to you it has been given.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.