Hello church family, this is Pastor Phil—
Today’s gospel reading, Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23 is by far one of my favorite parables and teachings of Jesus because it sheds such a realistic light on the different ways that we respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ. This parable tells us so much about our own human nature, about the people in our lives, and about the nature of our savior Jesus.
The parable itself is simple. You have a farmer who seems to have lost his mind. This farmer is taking handfuls of seed. Not just any seed, but precious, expensive seed and walking around town just throwing it anywhere. Throwing it on the grass, on the weeds, on the parking lot, and yes, some of it lands in freshly tilled and earthy soil. It seems like such a waste. But then Jesus explains the parable. The seed in the parable is the Gospel message, the good news of Jesus Christ’s salvation earned for us on the cross. The farmer is God spreading good news of salvation found in Jesus to the whole world through His Word and His people. Jesus then shares all of the different reactions that the human heart has to hearing and receiving the Good News of Jesus.
The first group of people are you and me. When we receive God’s word in faith and we celebrate the amazing news of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life that is given to us freely in Jesus Christ. It is the best news ever. It means our sins are forgiven and we are free from that guilt. It means we have absolute hope and certainty in the future, no matter what comes next and when we die, we will live eternally with Jesus. Not only with Jesus, but with all of the saints who have gone before us, and we will never be separated again. Embrace that amazing word from God and let it fill you with indescribable joy. Be the fertile soil that has received the good news with joy and watch your trust in the good news grow!
But let this parable be a cautionary tale for you as well. I call the examples of the different soils and different human hearts that receive the good news but let the trials and temptations of the world choke out their joy and their faith, simply “don’t be that person.” It is a warning for all Christians, that sin, death and the devil and all the distractions of the world are actively trying to choke out your faith and steal your joy. As a Christian, be wise and realize that there are powers in this world that want to steal your joy and want to rob you of eternal life. Guard that gift you’ve been given like it is the most precious gift in the world, because it is. When the world tries to steal your joy, stick with Jesus and hold on no matter what.
The next group of people are the people in our lives. I think the most important take away from this parable for you and me is that we are not in control of how the good news of Jesus takes hold in a person’s heart. We see clearly that Jesus never forces anyone to receive the good news of faith but allows the hearers to reject and fall away from that gift of faith. We love the people in our lives so much that we want them to know, receive and have the same joy in Jesus that we do. But we cannot control how the gift of faith is received or what is done with it. That’s not within our power, never has been. Our job is to keep spreading the Good News through sharing God’s Word, through preaching and teaching, through love and forgiveness, and trusting Jesus.
Because the final person this parable reveals about their nature is Jesus. That is what I love about this parable the most is that it shows how Jesus’ love is extravagant, and it never stops.
This past week we’ve had to get ready for contractors to work on our basement. For years now there was a slow crack spreading through our basement wall facing the backyard. This past year, we don’t know exactly what caused it to be so drastic so quickly, but that crack became a rupture as 2/3 of the wall is now leaning into the basement. It’s expensive but we have to get it repaired. What is so disheartening about this whole thing is that when we moved here 8 years ago, we spent thousands of dollars and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to renovate and finish the basement for our family. Yesterday, I tore down the wall Shi and I built for our master bedroom and we ripped out a huge section of Phil’s bedroom. When the contractors are finished, most of the basement is going to have to be redone.
It all really sucks, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I imagine that’s a tiny, tiny fraction of how God may feel when the Good news falls on soil that doesn’t receive it. Time and time again the work is put in for a human life to be saved, and time and again something happens, and it feels like all of the hard work is torn down. Or when we ourselves allow the pressures of the world to break down our own hope and the work done in our life starts to crumble. Or when we work so very hard for a loved one to hear and know the good news of Jesus and it seems like it is rejected time and again. It is feels like a sucker punch to the gut—but this is where the love of Jesus shines through.
In the parable, Jesus doesn’t stop. Weeds, heat, birds, broken walls and hardened hearts, Jesus does not stop spreading the good news of Salvation. Not one time, but Jesus keeps at it and keeps going over and over and over and over and over again. That is how great the love of God in Jesus is, that Jesus never considers any one of us a lost cause—but keeps working in us and on us. Because it is eternity that we are dealing with what does it matter if it takes 70 years for the good news of Jesus to take root in a human heart when that human life will have all of eternity to celebrate what Jesus has done for them.
But, let that not be said of us, that it took 70 years for the good news of Jesus to take hold. Because, right here and right now, the good news of Jesus saves us from so much unnecessary hurt and pain and gives to us a joy that fills us no matter what happens around us. No, it is better to receive it now and to live with hope knowing that no matter what happens, Jesus never quits, on our loved ones or on us.