Why Some Do and Some Don’t!

July 17, 2017

Why Some Do and Some Don’t!
Romans 8:5-17        
Matthew 13: 1-23

 

Why Some Do and Some Don’t!
Romans 8:5-17        
Matthew 13: 1-23

The “parable of the sower” is one of the more basic, foundational, parables of Jesus... but it’s also somewhat special because Jesus interprets it for us... without leaving much room for speculation regarding his meaning... 

Jesus said: A farmer goes about his business... sowing seed... implying he was broadcasting the seed by hand.  So, once the seed was released... there’s no way to completely control where it would end up! 

Some falls on the pathway... where the ground was hard packed... and those seed were immediately consumed. 

Some seed fell in rocky/shallow soil... but couldn’t develop deep enough roots to thrive.  As soon as it got too hot, the plants wilted and died. 

Some fell in the weeds. They took root, and grew... for a while. But eventually the weeds choked out the good plants... and they never matured... they never produced fruit. 

And finally, some of the seed fell on good soil. Well cultivated, weed-free... where they took root, grew to be mature, fruit bearing plants.

Of course, Jesus seems to have offered this parable in response to a very real and present issue.  Jesus had been going about preaching and teaching and healing... and facing criticism for his efforts... especially from the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They’d accused Jesus of healing in the name of Beelzebub (a demon)... and despite watching Jesus carry-out miracles they demanded more proof... more signs... more evidence before they’d believe or have faith; or even cut Jesus a little slack! 

So Jesus told stories... parables... to answer such attacks... and our lesson for today is one such parable. 

But there’s more... because you can almost hear the frustration in Jesus’ disciples.  Remember... they were witnesses to (and participants in) Jesus’ ministry... which mean, they were witnesses to (and recipients of) the criticism that followed.  So when the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” it’s not hard to imagine the root or basis for their question being... “Jesus, why don’t you speak in a way that’s more engaging... so that everyone can get what you’re saying? 

Of course, we would probably ask: Jesus, why can’t you be more positive in your message? You know, try not to offend anyone!

It’s a question we still wrestle with today!  Why is it that some people hear the Good News... some respond... and some don’t? 

Of course, Jesus answered by interpreting his own parable:

When the seed of the Gospel is sown... everyone hears! But for some... the evil one snatches the Good News before it can even begin to germinate! These are the people represented by the seeds that fall on the path. 

Others hear... and respond, but the Gospel never really takes root in their lives... they never grow deep roots... so they wither away and never reach maturity, as the lesson says, “they fall away when persecution comes.”  Of course, we don’t see much persecution in the American Church today.  But maybe the equivalent could be when “shallow-rooted” Christians hear about tithing, or regular church attendance, or repentance... or forgiving 70x7, or turning the other cheek... or the cost involved in discipleship... and they decide the cost is too high... so they voluntarily walk away.          

Then Jesus says, some seed falls among the weeds... where the “cares of the world and the lure of wealth” draw them away.  My, oh my... if there’s an image, a snap-shot of the modern church... this is it!  The worries of life, and the deceitfulness of wealth choke out the Gospel, making it unfruitful.  For many... the call of the world is simply greater (or more appealing) than the call of Christ. We’ve all seen it happen.  

But for some who hear the Good News... the seed falls on deep soil and bears fruit. These are people who hear the Gospel and respond... The word of grace takes charge of their lives. They grow and mature into Christians... into followers of Christ. 

Of course, Jesus’ parable not only answers the question, “Why doesn’t everybody get it?” But also leads those of us who’ve received, and who are trying with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, to live our lives in faithfulness to God... to ask, “What can we do to help those who don’t? How can we help others receive the saving message of God’s Word?” 

Well, first and foremost... we need to realize that whether or not we proclaim the Gospel is not really an option.  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  AND Jesus’ commandments include the commission to “Go and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  If we love Christ, we will share the Good News!  And this is more than just a matter of obedience.  It is a matter of faithfulness.  As we grow in obedience, we grow in Christ’s love.  As we grow in God’s love, our lives produce the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control. 

One of the best methods for sharing the Good News (or evangelism) is the idea that we’re called to help cultivate the soil where the seed of the Gospel will fall. It’s what we’ve been doing all this past week during Vacation Bible School... 

Think about it: practically every “mature Christian” you’ve ever met in your life... can describe how they were nurtured and loved into the awareness of God’s love. 

That love may have come from a father, or a mother, or a brother, or a sister, or a wife, or a husband, or a friend.  The love entered the life of the person preparing them for the love of God.  

For example... one person said, “My wife loved me into Christ; I realized that I was immersed in the love of Jesus flowing through her. When I finally heard the call myself to claim Jesus as Savior, I couldn't refuse.” 

Another person said, “It was granddaddy. I went to church and Sunday school every week because he came and got me and took me. He loved me in other ways. He used to hold me in his lap. I know that he was teaching me that there is a place on God's lap where only I fit and belong." 

These are just two illustrations of the cultivation of love. Love prepares the way for love. It may be that those who’ve known a lot of love can know the love of God when it comes more easily than others can. They can recognize it. 

What are we doing... as a church... and as individual Christians... to help others reach the point, where they, too, can experience God’s love in a way that leads them to produce a fruitful life of faith?

Of course, we know there are parts of our lives that are like the path, or the shallow soil, or the tangled places where there are weeds. But we also know of the rich, productive places... were God’s word penetrates and takes root... and grows... 

May we strive... as followers of Christ... to find ways to widen the deep and well cultivated parts of our lives... so that the Gospel can not only grow there... but where God’s love through us... can bear the fruit that will feed the world. Amen.


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