Sixth Sunday After Pentecost Sermon
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
It must have been a beautiful day to be at the beach. In my mind I can picture a scene where there was not a cloud in the sky as a gentle breeze blew along the shoreline as the hot sun shone brightly overhead.
And in the sky birds flew in all direction as waves gently moved back and forth across the beach in a steady rhythm as fish jumped high out of the water to catch insects and bugs that flew inches above the waves.
Was this a beach in Texas? No, the beach was not in Galveston, or Corpus Christi, or even South Padre Island but along a stretch of shoreline beside the Sea of Galilee.
Now, I must point out that the Sea of Galilee is not a saltwater body of water but a lake, fed by underground springs and by run off from the surrounding mountains.
And the most striking physical feature concerning the Sea of Galilee is that it is the lowest freshwater body of water in the world located 685 feet below sea level measuring 13 miles long and 8 miles wide with both sandy and rocky beaches.
But for Christians the most important bit of information that I must highlight is that the Sea of Galilee was a key location in the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
It was at the Sea of Galilee (for example) where Jesus choose fishermen to be His disciples. And it was at the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water; and fed thousands of people with a few loaves and a few fish. It was at the Sea of Galilee where Jesus drove pigs off a cliff and into the Sea, and where Peter walked on water and Jesus calmed the Sea.
The Sea of Galilee was also an important location where Jesus taught and ministered to the His disciples and to anyone who would stop and listen to what He had to say and seek refuge in His presence.
Take our Gospel reading that we have before us today. Just prior to our text we are told that Jesus had been busy at work healing many who were sick and by demonstrating His authority over evil by casting out a demon from a man who had been burdened by an unclean spirit.
And before long people took notice of what Jesus was doing but not all were excited by His activity. We are told that many people assaulted Jesus with false accusations including His own family. The antagonists in the crowd thought that Jesus was out of His mind and presented a danger to both Himself and to others around Him.
Still, many people were impressed at what Jesus was doing and teaching. We are told that “such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.”
Sensing the yearning in their lives for news about God’s activity in the world, Jesus began to teach the crowd using parables to inform them what the Kingdom of Heaven was like starting with the Parable of the Sower that we have before us this morning.
Now, I must point out that the Parable of the Sower is an important teaching to start off with because the parable provides for us a KEY to understanding all the parables that followed. For you see, the Parable of the Sower is one of the few parables Jesus told that provided for us an explanation of its true meaning.
Jesus did this because Jesus wanted to be very clear about the message that He was teaching them (and us) as He explained why some people hear the “Good News,” and why some people do not hear the “Good News.”
Using images, the people could easily understand Jesus said to them “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.”
“Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.”
But now hear the “Good News.”
“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some hundred, some sixty, some thirty. Let everyone with ears listen!”
Now you need to know that everyone in the crowd that day would have been quite familiar with the concept of a sower spreading seeds out in his field. Each and every one of them would have witnessed at one time or another a farmer out in his field sowing his seed.
And everyone in the crowd would have known that a farmer seeded his field by tossing out seed in every direction, and the people would have known that it was impossible for the farmer to control what type of soil his seed would land on.
The farmer back them did not have the modern equipment and technology famers have today to control the conditions of the field. So, everything that Jesus said about sowing would have made sense to them, except the part about the harvest.
Normally a famer would expect a seven or an eight-fold harvest; so the news about a hundred fold, or a sixty fold, or even a thirty fold harvest would have been shocking news to them because it would have been unheard of with the farming practices available at the time.
And that is where the teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven comes in, for to sow with this type of hope and vision is to have the perspective of the Kingdom of God. To sow with this sort of faith means to trust that the harvest is in the Lord’s hands and not our hands.
And the remarkable thing about it is that everyone is invited to come and participate and be sowers so that the grace of God can grow in the hearts and souls of other people around us as we share the grace that we have received so we all can rejoice in “God’s Amazing Harvest.”
And we can do this without fear concerning all the things that can get in the way of the harvest like rocks, and birds, or thin soil because we are simply called to go and scatter the seed and the rest will be taken care of by our Father in Heaven.
Even so today we live in troubling times. And that is why today the seed of God’s Word needs to be cast in all directions without regard to which type of soil the seed lands on.
Why… because people are afraid. And people’s lives have been turned upside down. The daily news concerning the coronavirus is upsetting people and causing pain in our lives. Today people are in grief for the way things once were and people long for life to get back to normal.
Today the world needs a word of hope. Today the world needs a vision for the future. Today the world needs to know that God is in control. Today the world needs people to go and scatter the seed of God’s mercy and grace. Today, the world needs people like you and me to go and spread the seed generously throughout the world.
The parable today is meant to help lighten our step as we go and scatter the Word in a world full of doubt and fear. The parable is meant to help us understand why the Good News of God’s Activity in our World falls on both deaf ears and ears that hear.
As Jesus said, “But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundred fold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
The parable today, that Jesus gave while sitting in a boat near the shoreline at the Sea of Galilee, is meant to reassure us that at the proper time there will be an abundant harvest and one day we will rejoice and marvel at God’s Amazing Harvest.
Let us pray: Almighty God, you call your church to witness that in Christ we are reconciled to you. Help us to proclaim the “Good News” of your love, that all who hear it may turn to you and further spread the seed of your Word. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.