Pentecost 5 – “The Parable of the Sower – It’s a Miracle” – Matthew 13:1-23 – 7/13/14

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Miracles are the demonstration of the power of God before our eyes. Water turned to wine, a stormy sea instantly calmed, a catch of fish that is way beyond luck, the blind receive their sight, the leprous are cleansed, and the dead child and the dead man are raised from the dead.

Those are miracles. Demonstrations of the power of God before your eyes – so that you may believe. Believe what? That Jesus Christ is who He says He is – the Son of God in the flesh dwelling among us, full of power to do what He has come into this world to do, which is, to make everything right.

Parables on the other hand are just stories. They are stories about the Kingdom of God. “A sower went out to sow.” “A shepherd goes after one of his sheep.” “A woman lost one of her coins.” “A son disowns his father and is later sorry that he did and comes home and the father welcomes him.”

Nothing miraculous in that. Pretty common, everyday stuff really. But hidden within the story is a revelation of how things work in the Kingdom of God. Hidden within every one of those stories is a window into the heart of man and the heart of God.

Why? So that you may believe? Believe what? That Jesus Christ is who He says He is – the Son of God in the flesh dwelling among us, full of power to do everything that He has come into this world to do, which is, to make everything right.

The gospel text that is appointed for this morning is the PARABLE of the SOWER. But I tell you that it is really a MIRACLE.

The “word of the kingdom of God” goes out. And it goes out LIBERALLY, in the best use of the word. And it is met with resistance and rejection and misunderstanding and manipulation and misuse. And still, when all is said and done, there is a great crop. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mat.9:37-38) That’s a miracle.

It’s a miracle that the Word of God can undergo such opposition and hostility from man and the devil, and yet, produce such an incredible crop. It’s the power of God before your eyes.

But it’s a parable too: a picture into the heart of man and the heart of God.

The heart of man does not understand the things of God. Just like the disciples every time Jesus planted His Word in them – telling them that He must be betrayed and suffer and nailed to a cross and die and be raised again on the 3rd day. “Never Lord!” they said. They didn’t understand. It made no sense them, not because it was ‘senseless’ but because the “wisdom of God is foolishness to man.”

“And the evil one, with his cunning questions, and his artful twisting together of truth and near truth, “snatches away what has been sown in his heart” as easily as a bird snatches seed that lies on the path.

But this seed is not plain seed. The ‘seed’ is the Word of God, dwelling among us, full of power to make everything right. The bird that eats the seed on the path, chokes on it and dies. What the evil one snatches away becomes his downfall. On the 3rd day, the eyes of the blind see what they hadn’t seen and the mind of man is opened and we UNDERSTAND what we had not understood. And the hard pathway of our heart is broken and plowed and becomes GOOD SOIL. And because HE WAS SNATCHED AWAY and returned again, we know, with understanding, that Jesus Christ is who He says He is. And His word is THE TRUTH. He has done what he promised to do. He has made everything right.

“And He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” It’s a miracle.

But it’s a parable too: a picture into the heart of man and the heart of God.

The heart of man is shallow. Shallowness may produce fast results, but they don’t last very long. What was here today is gone tomorrow unless it is given time to establish roots. He “hears the word of and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”

Our joy in Jesus is only ‘skin deep.’ And it FALLS AWAY as soon at the skin is scratched or bruised.

But the heart of God is not shallow. And the Word that comes from His heart, has deep roots. The Word of God is anchored in the depths of eternity. “He is the ‘root of Jesse,’ and a branch from his ‘root’ shall bear much fruit.’” (Isaiah 11:1).

His skin is deeply scratched and deeply so. Blood pours out from Him and there is no JOY in HIM. Yet He stands, unmoved, unshaken, steadfast.

And from that blood that pours from His skin, opens the heart of man and His holy Word sinks deep and takes root. And He brings us into His own suffering and persecution and we discover that “suffering produces perseverance and perseverance character and character hope and hope does not disappoint us because the love of God has been poured out into our heart – our shallow heart.

And from people who were so incredibly shallow, He produces an incredible crop, “a hundred, sixty, thirty fold.” People, who through suffering and persecution because of the Word are “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Col. 2:7)

It’s a miracle.

But it’s a parable too: a picture into the heart of man and the heart of God.

The heart of man is easily distracted. The Word of God, in the flesh dwelling among us, full of power to make everything good, does what it says and gives what it promises. And it is received with joy and even begins to put down some roots. But then it dies. It’s death by strangulation. “Choked by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches.”

Like the man who, knowing the Word of God and desiring to keep it asked Jesus, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus recited the Word that the man already knew. ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Luke 10)

It’s not that the Word is rejected or abandoned, it’s just gets crowded out by a thousand false gods and produces no fruit. And there is no harvest.

But the heart of God is not distracted. And the Word of God, sets His face to go to the cross and nothing distracts Him, neither the temptations of the devil, nor the cares of this world, nor the deceitfulness of riches, nor the shame of the cross, nor the pain of the nails distract Him from His goal, which is to make everything good.

He is choked and strangled by every distraction and worry that sucks the life right out of us. But on the 3rd day, He breathed again. And He came to His disciples and he breathed His breath onto them. And they who were dead in their trespasses and sins came to life.

50 days later, His Spirit breathed again, and 3000 souls in all each began to produce fruit – some a hundred fold, some sixty some thirty. “The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.” (Psalm 65:12-13).

It’s a miracle.

This ‘seed’ that is sown is none other than the ‘seed of the woman’ that promised to crush the head of the serpent and make all things good and right again. The ‘holy seed’ was planted in the good soil of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit and it took root and grew and produced a great crop.

He makes faithless and fruitless Israel – a great vineyard. “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Is. 35:1-2) It’s a miracle.

He makes His hard-hearted, rocky and weed infested Church – a abundant harvest that is ripe with the fruit of the Spirit – peace, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal.5:22). It’s a miracle.

For thus says the Lord, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:11).

“He who has ears, let him hear.”

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