In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Word of God always works. As surely as rain and snow make the ground wet, the Word of God works.
Time after time, Scripture makes this clear. In creation, God speaks, and things that don’t exist obey. Jesus speaks to a deaf man and his ears open (Mk. 7:31-37). And Jesus tells dead-as-a-doornail Lazarus to come out of the tomb, and he does. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” And Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”
But it doesn’t matter how clear Scripture makes it. It doesn’t matter how many times we read these verses from Isaiah or see countless examples in the Scripture that the Word of God works, we simply and sinfully do not believe this because there are times when it appears to us that God’s Word isn’t working. The results we expect just aren’t there. The Scriptures are pouring down, but where is the sprouting? Where is the fruit?
In our Gospel lesson (Mt. 13:1-9, 18-23), the Parable of the Sower and the Seed and its explanation, Jesus deals with our objections to the truth that God’s Word always works.
In the parable, Jesus teaches that God’s Word has enemies. The devil is first of those enemies. He is always trying to snatch away the Word as soon as the seed falls. Satan wants nothing more than to take that seed from you as soon as possible. That is why you have a hard time listening to sermons and why you get distracted when you read your Bible. Satan is always trying to steal God’s Word from you.
But there is another enemy of God’s Word. Trials, tribulations, and persecution also threaten the harvest that comes from hearing the Word of God. Troubles in this life tempt us into thinking that God is far away and has either abandoned us completely or isn’t interested in what is going on in our life. We wrongly think that, as a Christian, we should have less trouble and a better life than those who aren’t Christians. But Jesus never promised that. Jesus did not say, “Take up your Lazy Boy and follow Me.”
The Christian life isn’t easy. When tribulations and persecutions come, that isn’t the time to give up on God’s Word and retreat. Those trials should cause us to hold tighter to God’s Word. To sink our roots deeper into the promises that come only in the Scriptures.
Both the devil and the trials of this life are deadly enemies to the Word of God. But it is the third enemy, the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the enticement of stuff that is striking – especially this time of year.
Imagine a man standing just outside the door of our church, and every Sunday he would hold out $1,000 to you as you approached. The $1,000 is yours, free and clear, so long as you don’t come into church and listen to God’s Word. Would you take it?
Sadly, you are lured away by less than that. That tournament your child is playing in keeps you from hearing God’s Word and receiving the promises of forgiveness, life, and salvation. The lake is really nice to visit this time of year, and a few Sunday mornings of fishing and relaxing are much more appealing than being in a pew. Or, and I am guilty of this too, we would rather watch one more episode on Netflix before bed rather than spending time in the Bible.
Psalm 119:72 says, “The [Word] of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold or silver pieces.”
Brothers and sisters, we all need to repent. Repent and once again hear the effective Word of God. Notice that even when these enemies of God’s Word prevent the harvest – they never succeed because the Word, the seed, is ineffective.
The seed of God’s Word always has life in it. Even if we are hard-hearted pavement, the Word has life. Even if the rocks prevent our roots from receiving nourishment, the Word grows. Even if the weeds of the pleasures of this life choke out the growth, the Word works.
Repent and hear again this promise: God’s Word does not ever, never ever, return empty but accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent. And remember that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh.
The Word was sent by the Father to dwell among us. Jesus, the Word of God, bore all the accusations the Law could throw against you and of which He was innocent. The Word was sent to the slaughter, to accept your guilty verdict and to be killed on the cross for crimes that you committed.
And He is risen. Jesus has broken down the gates of hell and opened heaven to you believer, that you might live. And still, constantly through His Word, He speaks you righteous. He declares you innocent, and there is no one left to accuse or speak a word against you.
Hear His Word now: You are forgiven. Your sins are gone. Now, go out in joy and be led forth in peace. Sprout, and bear fruit for His name. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.