Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is a parable, a story the Lord told to illustrate an aspect of God's kingdom. In this case, the mission of the church.
Our Lord spoke of difficult things to understand in terms everyone could understand. All the listeners understood the illustration of a field crossed by a footpath. It was common then. However, the meaning of the parable was different for the disciples than the others.
"The sower went out to sow his seed; and when he sowed it, a part fell by the wayside, and was trampled; and the birds of the sky ate it. And another part fell on stones; and born, it dried up, because it had no moisture. And another part fell among thorns; and the thorns growing along with it, choked it. And another part fell on good ground, and germinated, and bore fruit one hundred percent. "
Everyone understood that the harvest depends on soil well prepared to receive the seed. Also the human heart must be well prepared to receive the Word of God. In our Old Testament reading (Amos 8: 11-12), the Lord says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord Jehovah, in which I will send hunger to the earth, not hunger for bread, nor thirst for water, but to hear the word of Jehovah. And they will go wandering from sea to sea: from the north to the east they will go looking for the word of Jehovah, and will not find it. ” The lack of hope, of purpose in this life, is more terrible than hunger or physical thirst. But it is worth nothing to hear the Word once and not apply it to your life.
However, the disciples suspected that there was something else to this parable. “And His disciples asked Him, saying: What does this parable mean? And He said: To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to the others by parables, so that seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not understand. "
Of course, the seed is the Word of God. And the field is the whole world. This is the deepest meaning. The seed bears fruit in good soil, but the mission of the sower is to sow the whole field. For preachers, men called to publicly proclaim the gospel of God, this is a warning that many times it may seem that preaching has no impact. The gospel is a blessed message of hope and joy. Jesus Christ has done everything for us. He died on the cross, rose again to win the resurrection for us. Not by our own merits, but by the grace and mercy of God.
But, not everyone is in the church now. Here are several reasons. “The seed is the word of God. And those along the road, these are the ones who hear; and then the devil comes and removes the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And those on the stones are those who, having heard, receive the word with joy; but these have no roots; who for a time believe, but at the time of the test they depart. And the one that fell among thorns; these are the ones who hear; but leaving, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bear no fruit. "
But, in this parable there is not only a warning, but also a promise. "But the seed that falls on good soil, these are those who with a good and straight heart retain the word heard, and bear fruit with patience." The promise is the seed never falls in vain, there is always good soil to receive the Word of God.
The mission of the church is proclamation, or the sowing of the Word. But, the harvest is not our work, but the work of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3: 6, “I planted, Apollos watered; but the growth has been given by God. ”
The same Paul says in the epistle (2 Corinthians 11: 19-12: 9) that for the preaching of the Word of God, “in more abundant works; in whips without measure; in prisons more; in danger of death many times. Of the Jews five times I have received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was whipped with sticks; once stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; One night and one day I was in the depths; in days many times; dangers of rivers, dangers of thieves, dangers of those of my nation, dangers among the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the desert, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in work and fatigue, in many vigils, in hunger and thirst, in many fasts, in cold and in nakedness. In addition to this, what comes to me every day, the burden of all the churches. ”
In addition, “And so that I am not exalted excessively by the greatness of the revelations, I am given a sting in my flesh, a messenger of Satan who slaps me, so that I am not greatly exalted. Therefore, three times I have begged the Lord to take him away from me; and he said to me: Sufficient for you is my grace; because my power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will gladly boast rather in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. ”
There has been a lot of comment about China's coronavirus. There are stories of the Christians of China helping their neighbors amid this trial. This is admirable, it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. There are circumstances when lay Christians, in the face of a plague, a war or other difficulty, may decide to flee for the protection of their families. For those called to preach the Word and administer the sacraments, their duty is clear, to remain until the last moment. As Martin Luther stayed in the city threatened by the plague at that time, so do we.
The church itself is a sign of God's presence in this world. When people say "Where is God?", We must point to the church. We recognize that we are weak, but God's power does its work in us. In this we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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