God is with us in Word and Sacrament



Luke 8:4–15


What we prayed for in the collect, our Lord warns us about in the Parable of the Sower. We prayed that, by the power of the Holy Trinity, we would be defended against all adversity. Those adversities are named in the parable. They are the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. They are the things that snatch, tempt, and choke out the Word from our hearts, so that we may not believe and be saved, but fall away and not come to maturity.

The Lord told this parable as He perceived that many were coming to hear Him only for the sake of some vain curiosity, to see a spectacle, or with ulterior motives: “for others they are in parables so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” There is a dark side to the Gospel: not everyone believes. The Lord will not force Himself on anyone. Some reject and are damned. Some hear for a moment but give up when tempted by the call of the things of this world. Some are choked out by worry, lust, and greed. There will come a sifting process, a judgment on the last day. God put ears on sinners that they would hear His Word and be warned and in the warning also be changed.

Every Christian endures the attack of demons, the press of temptation, and the desires and worries of the flesh. No one gets out unscathed. Even St. Paul suffered a messenger from Satan to keep him from becoming conceited. This parable is a warning. The attacks you suffer are dangerous. If you do not abide in the Word of God, you will lose your faith and suffer the fate prepared for Satan and his angels on the last day. “My people,” the Lord said through the prophet Hosea, “are destroyed by lack of knowlegde.” Repent. None of us fears God’s punishments as we should. All of us have sinned lightly as though our sins were mere pets.

There is, however, good news in the parable. The Sower keeps on sowing. He does not look for good and noble hearts. He simply looks for hearts, hearts corrupted, hearts weary, hearts afraid. He only saves sinners. He sows His Word without regard to how likely it is to take root and grow for He knows the power is in the seed and not in the soil. He seems reckless, wasteful, to the eyes of men. He is not like our farmers. He does not plot and plan and figure out the most economical way to gain a greater harvest. He simply sows and throws His seed without preparing the soil. He sends out His Word to those who need it, to those who cannot save themselves, to those that the demons would claim for themselves.

The disciples are models of faith here. While they did not immediately understand the parable, they were hearing. They were seeking God. They would not be destroyed by lack of knowledge. The same parable that hid God from unbelievers and even damned them, drew the disciple to listen more closely, to ask Jesus what it meant. They were seeing and hearing what the prophets longed to see and hear. The mysteries of the Kingdom of God were given to them and the mysteries of the Kingdom of God are given to you.

Faith on this side of glory is never satisfied. It always wants more. That is what the disciples want. They want answers from Jesus, more from Jesus. The Christian widow might piously declaim that she is at peace because her husband has been relieved of his suffering and she knows where he has gone, but she longs to join him and is eager for the culmination of her own faith, for the end of her sorrows and temptations and the end of her mourning. We confess and are confident that Jesus lives, that our sins are forgiven, that He is present for us in the Sacrament of the Altar, but we are still being snatched at, tempted, and choked.

Not only is the will of God sometimes hidden from us but so also are some of His Words. We do not understand all that we are given, all that we are promised, and yet we trust, by Grace, that His Word is true, that it is good and He is good and that it is good for us. The only antidote is more of what started it all: more Word, more Jesus, faith seeking understanding.

We will be snatched at, tempted, and threatened by choking worries and desires until we are brought home. Thus God provides a constant and on-going application of the Word. We cannot stand against God’s enemies. We are weak. They are strong. We cannot produce fruit for Him by an act of will or good intentions. But there is a promise: His Word does not return to Him empty but accomplishes that for which it was sent.

His Word was sent to become Flesh and dwell among us. His Word was sent to bear all the accusations that might have been leveled against you justly but of which He was innocent. His Word was sent to go to the slaughter, to accept the verdict of guilty in your place, and to be killed for crimes that you committed. His Word was sent to die and rise to set you free. His Word was sent to create saving faith, and its fruit, the confession of faith in this event. And by faith in this Word, you are forgiven, declared innocent and righteous.

Instead of thorns, up comes the cypress. Instead of the brier, up comes the myrtle. Instead of deaf ears and blind eyes, up comes you with ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts that believe. The Lord bears a harvest of faith, a hundredfold, in you. It is a miracle. For to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Do not be destroyed by lack of knowledge. To the one who has, more is given. For faith seeks understanding. And by this faith you will live. Amen.


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