A Sower Went out to Sow (Luke 8)

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Service Notes

Sexagesima + February 24, 2019
  • Order of Service: Prayer & Preaching
  • Hymns: LSB #904, 655, 921
A SOWER WENT OUT TO SOW

Theme Verse

A sower went out to sow his seed. (Luke 8:5)

Sermon Text

Jesus has good news for you this morning. Good news! Three-fourths of your work for the Lord will not materialize into anything. Amen. Go in peace.

Ok. Of course we don't understand Jesus' good news in this way. We understand the Gospel to be about Jesus' life, death and resurrection. But how do we know the Gospel? Through the Word. Sola Scriptura. Scripture alone. The Scriptures give you the Gospel. The "good news of great joy that will be for all the people."[1] God's Word that "shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."[2] "The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.[3]

The Gospel is cast about everywhere. It doesn't matter if it's on the path, the rocks, the thorns or the good soil. The Gospel is cast about freely. When the sower goes out to sow, he doesn't care where the seed lands. Yes, most of the work seems to be in vain, but God still blesses the work. As St. Paul said to the Corinthians, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."[4]

The seed that falls on the path is trampled underfoot. That happens every day both inside and outside the Church. There is an old saying, "Wherever God builds a church, the devils builds a chapel next door." Others have said that the devil isn't satisfied with being a neighbor. They say he sets up his chapel in the narthex. In many cases, I believe that is a more accurate picture.

Satan tramples the Word underfoot whenever he twists God's Word.[5] If he can get you to question God's Word enough to throw it out in favor of human reason, he declares victory and claims another soul for his kingdom.

He did this to the exiles in Babylon. Even though they had wonderful prophets like Ezekiel and Daniel, the religious establishment after Ezra was much different than it had been before the Babylonian Captivity. Satan had snatched enough of God's Word away from them that he created a religion of the Law instead of the Gospel. The Jews became more worried about God's divine checklist for humans instead of His promised salvation. How man can reach out to God instead of watching for God to reach out to them.

Satan got things to such a fevered pitch among the Jewish leaders that they sought any and every reason to get rid of Jesus the Messiah.[6] When they finally came to an agreement, they brought Him to Pilate for "perverting the nation."[7] Satan had trampled the Word so much that the Word incarnate was put to death by those who should have known better.

When Satan can't completely trample the Word, he tries to makes sure there is so much confusion that faith cannot deepen. Where faith is shallow, it can't stand up against the devil's temptations. He brings out even the weakest of temptations and shallow faith crumbles like a house of cards.

But don't confuse shallow faith for immature or young faith. Shallow faith is based on the emotions. Shallow faith is strong when things are going well. When we are prospering and experiencing Your Best Life Now, even shallow faith can seem invincible. But what happens in the drought, when things aren't as prosperous? We being quoting Psalm 22 like we're Jesus hanging on the cross: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"[8]

Satan tempts us to believe that God is fickle, like all the pagan gods he has ever created. All created to keep faith in God's Word shallow, emotional and transient. That way, when he takes things away, we follow Job's wife's advice: "Curse God and die."[9] Shallow faith among the rocks doesn't take us very far.

What we need to have is a deep faith in the Word that was crucified on top of the rock known as the Skull.[10] Jesus was crucified on Golgotha in Satan's attempt to get rid of Him. But Jesus' plan always went through the cross. From before the foundation of the world, Jesus had been set forth as the "all-availing sacrifice" that accomplished salvation for all mankind.[11] On the cross, where Satan thought he had finally won, Jesus cries out in victory, "It is finished!"[12] He takes even the weak in faith unto Himself and saves them.

Jesus is betrayed by one of His disciples.[13] Nine of the others scatter to the four winds at His arrest.[14] Peter denies Him three times after having followed at a distance.[15] John stood beside Him all the way to the foot of the cross.[16] The faith of every one of Jesus' disciples withered because of His Passion.[17] But they were forgiven of their desertion and made to proclaimers of Jesus' resurrection.[18]

Shallow faith is also easily choked out. Especially when we are faced with all the cares of this world. It can become so easy to fall away because of external pressures from the devil, the world and our sinful flesh. Even the strongest of the faithful can be susceptible to falling away through distraction.

David was a man after God's own heart,[19] he was distracted by a beautiful neighbor bathing in her courtyard.[20] Only after Nathan confronted him with his sin did he repent and return to the Lord.[21] He was distracted by his own flesh to choke out God's Word.

Not to be outdone, David's son Solomon upped the ante quite a bit. He choked out God's warning against marrying foreign women.[22] Solomon collected wives and concubines like they were baseball cards. "He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart."[23] With all of these foreign wives, Solomon built temples and high places for them to worship their false gods. Solomon's faith was choked out by the thorns of his multiple wives and their idolatry.[24] Only in his old age, as he records in Ecclesiastes, does he realize the folly of allowing the cares of this world to choke out your faith.[25]

Jesus literally bore the thorns of this life. A crown of thorns on His head as He was mocked and crucified.[26] He gives the ability to live in this world without your faith being choked out by the thorns. St. Paul is a wonderful example. Although it sounds like his list in 2 Corinthians 11 takes its origin in boasting of himself, he is only boasting of the things that show his weakness.[27] Weakness where God's power is made perfect.[28]

As Paul defends his apostolic authority, he speaks of what makes him small. What doesn't naturally lend itself to praise by our sinful human nature. What doesn't appeal positively to the cares of this world.

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.[29]

For most people, these things would deter us from doing anything for Jesus. If we were to experience all of these things, we would quickly let our faith be choked out. We might even help the thorns choke it out. But St. Paul is different. Not because of anything that is in him. Because Jesus has made his heart good soil.

The good soil is that which has been prepared beforehand to readily receive the seed. These are hearts that have been opened to God's Word through the strength that is only given through the Word. The only way a human heart is made into good soil is through tribulation and sorrow. God says, "I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."[30] Your heart isn't good soil until God makes it good soil.

How does God do that? "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you."[31] Where did God sprinkle clean water on you? At your Baptism. He turned your heart of stone into a heart of flesh so that His Word might strengthen it.[32] Being strong, it will be able to bear abundant fruit.[33]

This is the Word's sole purpose. To bear the fruit of faith. When God sows the Word into the heart of stone, the stone begins to break apart and faith is created. When God sows the Word into the new heart of flesh,[34] it strengthens faith. God's Word does not return to Him empty, but it accomplishes exactly what He purposes.[35] Once the heart of stone has been removed, nothing can stop it from fulfilling its task.

The Sower goes out to sow. The Word goes out throughout the world. Every time His Word is read and proclaimed. Whether in the congregation's worship service or Bible study or in individual devotions and small group studies. The Sower is still sowing the seed. The seed that brings salvation because the power is within it. Because it is God's Word. God has given it. God sustains it. And He provides for the growth of faith through the Scripture alone. Amen.

References

  1. Luke 2:10
  2. Isaiah 55:11
  3. Romans 1:16
  4. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
  5. Genesis 3:1; Luke 4:10-11
  6. Matthew 26:59
  7. Luke 23:2 NKJV
  8. Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
  9. Job 2:9
  10. Luke 23:33
  11. LSB p. 161
  12. John 19:30
  13. Luke 22:47-53
  14. Matthew 26:56
  15. Luke 22:54-62
  16. John 18:15; 19:25-27
  17. Mark 14:27-28
  18. Acts 1:7-8
  19. 1 Samuel 13:14
  20. 2 Samuel 11:2-5
  21. 2 Samuel 12:1-15
  22. Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 17:17
  23. 1 Kings 11:3
  24. 1 Kings 11:5-8
  25. Ecclesiastes 1-2
  26. Matthew 27:27-31
  27. 2 Corinthians 11:30
  28. 2 Corinthians 12:9
  29. 2 Corinthians 11:24-28
  30. Ezekiel 36:26
  31. Ezekiel 36:25
  32. 2 Corinthians 12:9
  33. John 15:5
  34. Ezekiel 36:26
  35. Isaiah 55:11