Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Holy Scripture is God's Holy Word. Holy Scripture does what it says. Holy Scripture gives what it promises.
So, every time you hear Holy Scripture, you hear your heavenly Father. Every time you hear Holy Scripture, God's will will be done on you. Every time you hear Holy Scripture, by faith, you will receive what it promises.
Many television preachers offer an easier life as a Christian. They influence how we vote and live. They offer us to make decisions for Christ. But they have no power to convert anyone. They might affirm Holy Scripture as God's Word but often, many of them, deny that God's Word is effective to work on its own without eloquent oratory, bright lights, or big donations.
The prophet Isaiah, on the other hand, shows us how effective God's Word is by comparing it to the rain. The rain is given by our Father to water the earth; to make it green; to bring forth vegetation and life. Farmers and gardeners are most aware of the importance of rain for a full yield and healthy harvest.
The parable of the Sower also show us that God's Word is effective. Those who hear the Word are changed. This Word alone has the power to convert us. This Word alone has the power to keep us in the faith and grow us to mature Christians. But it is from the Sower that we also hear about the dangers of birds, weeds, and dryness to the Seed. The Seed can be eaten, choked, and dried out. Your decision is not strong enough to protect you from these enemies which should also put to rest that once you are saved you will always be saved.
But, you are the ones who believe in God our Father, that He created heaven and earth by speaking words. “Let their be light” is the seed He planted in nothing (for nothing that exists had yet been made) and their was light.
And you are also the ones who believe that you “cannot by your own power or strength believe in Christ, your Savior, or come to Him.” But you were dead in sin and were as nothing before God our Father until He planted His Seed in you saying “Believe and be baptized” and that planted Seed sprouted belief in you and that baptism accomplished what it was send for – to wash you of all your sin.
Notice that Holy Scripture talks about its own effectiveness and power without any mention of you or me. A gardener does not make a seed grow. A gardener or farmer spreads the seed out. Christians proclaim the Seed God gives but God causes the seed to grow without any help from us.
That Holy Scripture alone gives us faith and grows us into mature Christians which speaks volumes against our own programs and efforts to make God's Word more effective.
How do we do that? Here are some examples:
1. I have to do something else to make my unbelieving family member to believe, because no matter how much I use God's Word they still don't believe.
2. When the sanctuary becomes greater than 2/3's full, people will stop coming because seating becomes uncomfortable.
This parable of the sower is saying that our best efforts to improve God's Word to expand of His garden on earth will end in failure to the extent that those efforts depart from God's life giving Seed.
I know. Saying such things hurts. Your intentions are good. You really want people to believe. But you can make no one believe. Only God's Word can do that.
The Parable of the Sower explains two important matters. One - why people seem to know the Gospel but fall away from the faith and even turn against it. Two - how the Gospel is overwhelmingly successful in spite of the many apparent crop failures.
5“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.
Seeds don't grow on hardened ground such as a foot path. Not planted, they sit on top of the ground and are easy prey birds to eat.
This group of people know enough Holy Scripture to say they are sinners, that all are sinners, and that all people sin, that no one is perfect with which they give themselves excuses against God's Word and make an excuse for all their sin.
In this kind of situation, Satan's messengers (represented by the birds of the air) fly away with the Seed. They seemed to believe the Gospel but fell into a hatred for the Gospel.
This happened to many church bodies in the last century when they gave up creation for evolution and gave up ancient creeds as divisive in favor of working and worshiping together.
This century begins with denominational hatred for God's Word. This is a grave warning to all of us, you and me included.
6And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
Examples are easy to find in gardening today. At the parsonage, I need to pull weeds that grow between the house and the back patio where there is little soil or moisture. When I don't clean the gutters frequently enough, I find tree seeds have sprouted and grown leaves. But they have no chance to fully grow.
A silenced Christian is precious to the false teachers, who count on the quiet one to discourage others, apologize for error, and serve as an example of one beaten down by threats and imagined future slights.
7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.
Weeds covet the good soil, moisture, and sunlight of the garden. Rampant weed growth will smother the plants so good plants may still exist but bear no fruit. Instead, the weeds flower and fruit.
When people hear the Word and believe it, God allows them to live in prosperity, since the Gospel is abundant with its blessings. Christianity began with the ruffians, the thieves, prostitutes, and low lifes.
Church bodies begin with folding chairs, tiny chapels, and threadbare preachers. Soon they have carpeting, cathedrals, and people driving the latest luxury cars.
The more we have, the more we are afraid of losing.
8And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Every gardener and farmer knows about the miraculous abundance created by the planting of seed, even though many are lost. One kernel of corn can produce 500 to 1000 kernels on one stalk.
The first three sections are mostly warnings, but the last one is full of hope and promise. As Luther points out here and in other places, putting God in second place (behind world honors, money, or external peace) will never work. But if the heart is cleared of those things, which grow out of our sinful nature, then the Word will grow as miraculously as promised.
The clearing effort, wrought by the Law, is constant. That is why we worship and study, teach and learn.
This gives us confidence that the Word that goes out will bear fruit, as God promised. It will alienate some. It will move some to acts of vengeance. It will motivate shunning and slander. But it will sow eternal life.
Each believer starts with himself. We cannot believe for someone else. Holy Scripture directs us to God's to Jesus Christ, not to others or ourselves. Holy Scripture is God's Word. Holy Scripture does what it says. Holy Scripture gives what it promises; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep and protect your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.