Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This is a familiar story, isn’t it? It is one most of us have heard before. So, to help us hear what Jesus has to say to us today, we need to listen to this story with new ears, as if we are hearing it for the first time. Jesus has drawn a crowd. Word of his teaching has gotten around, and so many people want to hear him, that he is crowded off the beach. Jesus has to share this story from a boat.
“A sower went out to sow.” Most people in the crowd were farmers, or were familiar with farming. So right away, Jesus has their attention. When he tells what the sower does next, scattering the seed everywhere, this is not what the people were expecting to hear. What kind of person is this? That wastes good seed on bad ground? Seed was not something to be just tossed anywhere. For farmers, seed was saved from last year’s crop - carefully stored until planting time. Everything depended on this seed. There would be no grain to sell or food for his family if the seeds failed to grow. Some folks were probably wondering if this Jesus was such a great teacher after all.
Jesus continues, the seed on the road is snatched up and eaten by the birds. The seed on the rocky ground comes up, but is scorched by the sun. The seed among the thorns is choked by them and dies. Then, the sower finally sows the seed in good soil, and that seed yields an enormous harvest. Some, even a hundred times what was planted. For the people listening, this was amazing! No farmer could expect such an enormous return from their crops. And just when Jesus has them on the edge of their seats, leaning in to hear the moral of the story, Jesus says, “Let those who have ears hear” and walks away. That’s it! I imagine the people standing there with their mouths hanging open, “Is that it?”
Later, Jesus huddles off to the side with the disciples. Did you notice the sower doesn’t pick the perfect place to share God’s love. No! The sower spreads God’s love everywhere, throwing seed on good soil, and on rocks, and paths, everywhere! What are we to make of this story? If the seed is the Word of God which we are called to share, why take it to people who won’t benefit from it? Why waste our time with people who just don’t get it?
Oh! Wait a minute. The Word of God is about God’s love for all people. This is the same Word we hear all through the Bible: in the calling of Abraham to be the father of a new people, and when Moses meets God at the burning bush. God is sharing that Word, God comes to Abraham and Moses, and later to the prophets, and sends them out to share it.
But what about us? Does God pour out this grace on us? YES.
Abraham and Moses and the others were just ordinary people like us. They didn’t have any special talents or gifts. In fact, some of them rejected God at first. Remember the story of Jonah? God calls Jonah to be a prophet, and he runs in the other direction, because he doesn’t like the people who God sends him to.
God pours out, or you might say, sows the Good News -on and in everyone. So let’s look at this story again. Of course, I like to think that I am good soil, receiving God’s Word and yielding a bountiful harvest. But really, if I look back at my life, I can see when I wasn’t such good soil. Even now there are times when I don’t understand what God is trying to tell me and I just want to give up, or I get distracted by everything else in my life.
But the blessing is: God is always reaching out sowing seed in my heart, and in yours. Even when we don’t get it, when we just want to quit, or when the world distracts us, one of the gifts that Lutherans have is this understanding. There is no way we, on our own, can earn grace. Martin Luther teaches that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. The Good News is, God is always reaching out to us. God keeps coming down to us. When we read the Bible, we see God coming to us through the story of God’s people and the prophets, and most of all, through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. That is amazing, wonderful good news!
Ok that’s great. Now what do we do? We are called, in whatever our role is in life, to share the Good News. Not just in words or teaching, but by what we do and how we live our lives. Martin Luther said that even changing diapers, if it is done for the glory of God, is an act of Christian worship, a sharing of God’s love and grace. Really?? Changing diapers? YES. Whatever you and I do, working in an office, reading to our children, helping people in need, we do it because of – and in response to – God’s love for us. We share the word of the Lord, the good news that God loves us. We can share it, as Jesus taught us, in a story.
Sow the seeds of God’s love and grace, love and forgiveness everywhere, because that is what we followers of Jesus are called to do. Amen.