Today's readings are Psalm 74.10-17, Genesis 8.13-9.17, and Mark 4.1-20. Since I have a vespers service this evening including these texts and chose Mark 4.1-20 for the sermon, that's what you have below.
Sermon "One Field, One Sower, One Seed"
May the Lord make us attentive to what He would speak through His word. Amen.
The Scripture is full of statements of "one." The Lord your God is one God. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. There is one name under heaven by which we might be saved. There is one God and one mediator between God and man. And in our Gospel passage this evening we see one field, one sower, one seed. These three unities show us three very important facets of God's kingdom.
There is one field. When Jesus pictures the world, it is always a whole world. See how Jesus describes a field, and the field is the world. There doesn't seem to be a road going through the field. There isn't a margin. There isn't some area that is not part of the field. The field is all there is. It's the whole world. This parable and others take a sort of universalist view of life. There isn't anything in the world which isn't going to be included in this parable. There's one field, one world. And it's the world that is cursed by sin. Jesus, the savior of the world, is taking on the world of sin. There is no part his death, burial and resurrection won't affect. There is no place outside of his care. There's one field.
There's one sower also. Our Lord is the one doing the work in the parable. In our household we often refer to God as "the crazy farmer." And he seems to be a crazy farmer. He is sowing seed everywhere. He doesn't seem to be careful about where he puts the seed. He's broadcasting it throughout the world. This parable is not about us and our qualities, our ability to be good soil. It isn't about anything we can do. It isn't about anything we are. We are in the world, which is the field God is sowing. Jesus is coming to our world regardless of the condition of our world. He, the living Word of God, the seed sown by God the Father, is the one who is broadcast by the Father to all the rough places, the hard places, the rocky places, the thorny places, the good land, everywhere. Let us make no mistake about it. The ground has no merit. It's just there in the parable. It's the Father and the Word who are doing the work. Do we bring Jesus to our communities? No, we don't. He's already there. God the Father has put him there. Do we bring Jesus to our families, our work places, our neighborhoods? No. God the Father has already put him there. We don't bring Jesus to people. We may bring people to Jesus, showing them that He is there for them. But he is there for them regardless of our obedience or disobedience. Jesus, the living Word of God, has come to our world. He has been planted here by God the Father, the one sower. There is one field, one sower.
And as I mentioned earlier, there is one seed. This seed is God's Word, the living Word, Jesus Christ himself. What does the seed do? It grows. That's what good seed does. And Jesus is always good and fruitful seed. That good seed will germinate and grow. It needs the conditions – moisture and temperature that's appropriate. If you put a handful of dried beans on a wet paper towel and keep them in a warm moist place, you'll see sprouts very soon. It doesn't matter that they have no soil. It doesn't matter that they won't be coming to maturity. They will grow. Seed grows. God's word, Jesus himself, grows. He is fruitful no matter where he goes. On the hard-packed soil he is attacked by Satan, who spreads his work like a bird which spreads seeds. On the rocky ground he germinates and starts about his work, but his work is stamped out by the hardness of our heart. Among the thorns he germinates and starts about his work, but his work is choked out by our incessant meddling. In the good soil, where he is left to do his work, he produces a bountiful increase. What's the difference? Not the seed. The difference is that in some places Jesus' work on our behalf is allowed to flourish and in some places we fuss with it and stamp out the fruitfulness of the Lord and giver of life. Where does Jesus produce an increase? Where we let him do his work.
What is Jesus' work, then? Living and dying for our sin, giving us his righteousness. Do we try to accomplish his work for him? Do we try to meddle with the seed of the Word of God? Do we try to mediate salvation on our terms? Or do we accept that Jesus Christ has come to give his life and be the savior of the world? There's one field, one sower, one seed.
Let us pray.
Lord, Savior of the world, you have given your life on our behalf, sowing yourself in this world for us. Burn off our thorns. Cast out the rocks from the rocky ground. Plow up the hardened crust of dirt. Be fruitful in and through us, bringing forth your increase throughout this world, for You ever live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
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