A Fruitful Planted Tree (Psalm 1)

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16th Sunday after Pentecost + September 4, 2016
  • Order of Service: Divine Service 4
  • Hymns: LSB #425, 705, 745, 646, 853, 629, 918

SERMON TEXT: He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

Caesarius of Arles said, “O blessed cross, which makes people blessed! O cross, from which such great and wonderful fruits are gathered! The fruit of the cross is a glorious resurrection. This fruit of the wood is truly planted 'near running water,' for Baptism is always joined to the cross. However, this wood produced 'its fruit in due season,' at the Lord's resurrection. It will do so again when He appears from Heaven, 'is seen on earth,' and with dazzling sign of the cross preceding Him, comes from above.”[1]

The one true tree that is planted by streams of water is Jesus' cross. Although it was physically placed upon a hill, the cross is never separated from the water of Baptism. Baptism waters the cross so that its fruit and leaves may bless you eternally. The fruit is the the resurrection of the body and its physical enjoyment of Heaven for all eternity. The leaves are the pages of God's Word that shade us in His love and healing. Those who take refuge under the cross prosper in all that they do.[2]

The fruit of the tree is the great resurrection of all flesh on the Last Day. It is certainly seasonal in its development. Fruit begins as a seed. It sprouts through the ground and grows into a plant. The plant bears its fruit at God's appointed time. Fruit isn't born before its time. Fruit doesn't ripen before its time. Everything happens at its own time. You cannot rush it.

The fruit of the resurrection begins as the seed of faith. A seed given in Baptism. The very first inklings of the Christian faith. The sprout emerges as the child goes through Sunday School. The plant begins to bear fruit as they confirm their Christian faith. The fruit matures as the Christian studies and meditates on the Bible day and night.[3] Full maturity comes as God calls the Christian home, either in the sleep of death or His glorious appearance on the Last Day.

This mature fruit sees the great vision of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”[4]

Christian meditation focuses on God's Word as the leaves of the heavenly tree of life. The leaves which give healing for the nations.[5] The healing of Jesus' death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins. Healing that leads to a life of self-denial. “If anyone comes to [Christ] and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be [His] disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after [Him] cannot be [His] disciple.”[6] Meditation focuses on the Word. The Word of healing and forgiveness.

The Word that never withers.[7] God's Word is preached “in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”[8] It is the same Word at all times.[9] “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”[10] “He is your life and length of days.”[11]

Being your “length of days,” there is no withering. It has no place for wickedness, sin or scoffing. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.”[12] The three main postures of life—walking, standing, and sitting—must be in compliance with God's never-withering Word. The Psalm points you to follow God's commandment for your life in His Word: “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”[13] When you live the life God has commanded you, your walking, standing, and sitting are grounded in God's Word. This is why God hands you the choice: “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.”[14] Grounded in the Word, you see the true blessings with which God wants you to prosper.

“In all that he does, he prospers.”[15] When you follow the way of life and good, you prosper. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, like the TV preachers would tell you. It is the Gospel's blessing. Even as you are “loving the LORD your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments,”[16] bad things still happen. Your ventures may fail. The road is often dark.[17] God never promises an easy life. God guarantees life in this world to be difficult. “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you … By the sweat of your face, you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”[18]

God spoke these words to Adam after he had eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from that tree. But God commands us to eat from the heavenly Tree of Life.[19] The same Tree of Life that was in the Garden of Eden.[20] Life that comes through Jesus' death. “My sins assail me sore, but I despair no more, I build on Christ, who loves me; from this Rock nothing moves me.”[21] In Jesus' cross, you are firmly planted by the stream of Baptism. Washing over you. Giving you the fruit of the Tree of Life. Shading you with its leaves.

God planted a fruitful tree when Jesus was nailed to the cross. Watered by Baptism, you grow with the fruit of the glorious resurrection that each of you anxiously await. This fruitful tree was planted, but it now guides you through this life. It leads you back to your Baptism many years ago, but it also leads you forward to be prepared to see Jesus face to face in the glories of Heaven. Where you will be blessed as you walk, stand and sit in His presence forever. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. Sermon 112.4
  2. Psalm 1:3
  3. Psalm 1:3
  4. Revelation 22:1-5
  5. Revelation 22:2
  6. Luke 14:26-27
  7. Psalm 1:3
  8. 2 Timothy 4:2
  9. Malachi 3:6
  10. Hebrews 13:8
  11. Deuteronomy 30:20
  12. Psalm 1:1
  13. Deuteronomy 11:18-19
  14. Deuteronomy 30:15
  15. Psalm 1:3
  16. Deuteronomy 30:16
  17. LSB #745.1
  18. Genesis 3:17-19
  19. Revelation 2:7; 22:14, 19
  20. Genesis 2:9; 3:22
  21. LSB #745.2