Sermon By Fr Larry Galon
Sunday July 16th Trinity 5
The Parable of the Sower
Today I want to go over one of Jesus most famous teachings. The parable of the sower, which is included in the three gospels. Jesus told this parable for several purposes.
But first, it will help us to understand the parable if we know the context. Jesus was coming into conflict with the Jewish religious leaders, but also was becoming extremely popular because of miraculous healings he performed. In Matthew 13, we can read about this particular day. Jesus was healing the demon-possessed and the sick while the Pharisees and teachers of the law sat around looking for reasons to criticize Him. He was so busy that day that his own family could not get into the house where he was to meet them. Eventually, Jesus went out by the lake, sat in a boat just offshore, and told the parable of the sower.
Jesus told a parable to get the crowd to consider their own hearts. He didn’t want them to just come and observe what he was doing or to only seek miraculous signs, but to really consider the implications of what he was saying and doing. Jesus correctly describes the hearts of people in the crowd. He knew that most of their hearts were hardened and insensitive, so that even as they saw miracles and heard the good news, they did not benefit. To those who received Jesus’ words, God would cause the word to bear much fruit in their lives. But to those who did not seriously consider and accept the word of God, they would receive nothing. Nothing. So how does this parable apply to us? Let’s consider each type of soil and see if it describes us.
Seed on the path
Jesus describes ground that has not been ploughed up and is hard. When the seed falls on it, it cannot penetrate the surface. Jesus said that, in order for God’s word to have effect, we have to let it “sink in.” We have to carefully consider the message so that as we have to decide to accept God’s word and see how it will change us we may be in for a big surprise! But first, we have to make a conscious decision to accept God’s word in order for it to have any effect. If we decide to leave God’s word on the table for later, Satan will snatch it away.
So what makes people’s hearts hard toward the gospel? Why are some people’s hearts like the path so that they don’t even consider the message? There could be millions of excuses for us to not truly consider the message of the kingdom. Maybe we feel we are too young, or too old, too busy, too rich or not the right ethnicity. Whatever our excuse—Jesus wants us to hear today. “He who has ears, let him hear.” Make sure your heart is ploughed and ready for the message.
Seed on rocky soil
This second type of soil is shallow so that the word is received joyfully, but does not mature within. When trouble comes they will fall away because they do not have the roots to draw spiritual sustenance from God.
One thing I noticed was that in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this trouble refers to persecution because of faith. Sometimes I think we might have stronger faith if we experienced more persecution. Early Christians were persecuted, yet they stood and held on to their faith. Their roots must be deep, because the faith did not shake under persecution. How many of us would be able to withstand such persecution?
So how do we grow roots? Where do we get our training to living out God’s word? I am very lucky to stand before you today and see how beautifully St. John’s congregation is formed, with the diversity that we have. By the support that I see from our different communities; and the ecumenism which we joyfully share during the times of distress such as the time we are now in caring for victims of Grenfell Tower. We build physical muscles by exercise. In the same way, we need to exercise our spiritual muscles by praying to God to be with us.
Seed on thorny soil
The third type of soil has thorns planted alongside the good seed. Those thorns grow larger until they eventually choke the good plant. Jesus says these thorns are worldly concerns and pleasures.
See how Jesus includes what we consider good things! Worldly pleasures are deceiving, and we need to be careful about being tricked. We should set our hearts on heavenly things not on earthly and temporal things. Often this type of seed is referred to the following saying:
• Love your husband or wife, but remember the one who joined you together for this life and who will welcome you both back into heaven.
• Pay attention to your children and teach them with your life example, but remember they are entrusted to you by God, who is their eternal Father.
• Please enjoy your job and do your best, because God made us to work and be productive, but remember your boss is God and your real job is being a fisher of men.
In the same way, sometimes we get so focused on this world that we forget about eternity. So how can we clear thorns out of our heart? First, get rid of things in your life that make you unfruitful. If some are concerns choking your spiritual life, maybe you ought to consider leaving that thing aside in order to become fruitful in God’s kingdom.
Seed on good soil
v. 23 “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”
This person considers the message, then puts their hand to the plough without looking back. They overcome each of the obstacles that made others stumble:
1) They considered the message carefully, understood it, and said “Yes.”
2) They grew deep roots by practicing the word and carrying it to its logical conclusion in their life.
3) They were not deceived by worldly pleasures, nor did they become so caught up with other concerns that they were unfruitful.
Luke writes in his gospel this: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Brothers and sisters, I hope you are not thinking of reasons why you cannot be this last type of soil. All of us can be good soil! First, we need to consider God’s message squarely; don’t put it on the shelf, because the devil will steal it away. We should realize what the consequences will be. Then make a decision to accept it. We need to work this out in our everyday life. We should make sure to grow deep spiritual roots so we can be mature. Watch out for thorns that grow up to choke our spiritual life. O God, Clear our heart of thorns. -