2-4-24 Sexagesima

Bible Text: Luke 8:4-15 | Preacher: Pastor Christian Preus

God’s word works. It’s active. It does every time what God sent it out to do, “My word shall not return to me void,” God says, that means it won’t do nothing, it will do what He sent it to do. And every time it does. When someone speaks God’s word that’s God speaking. Whether that’s a pastor to his people, or a Christian speaking it to a friend, or a dad or mom speaking it to a child. It’s God speaking. And God speaking is obviously the most powerful and effective thing in the world. It created the world. It created you. It gives eternal life – Peter says it, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. The creation of faith is far more amazing a thing than the creation of the world. Nothing was resisting God when He spoke things into existence. The light wasn’t unwilling to shine or the waters to separate from the dry land or the animals to be formed from the dust of the earth. The man and woman didn’t resist when God breathed the breath of life into them. Nothing resisted. Everything came beautifully out of nothing. But when God speaking creates faith in the human heart, he meets nothing but resistance, sin and doubt and pride and unbelief. That his word wins out and we stand here today Christians, trusting in our dear Lord Jesus, knowing that we have eternal life in Him and we will never perish, this is the greatest miracle God works. It’s why Jesus after doing countless miracles, raising the dead, multiplying bread, turning water into wine, says to his disciples, You will do greater things than these. Because they speak God’s word and that word overcomes all resistance, death, sin, the devil, everything and makes us sons of God, holy and pure and innocent with Jesus’ own righteousness and eternal life.

Jesus explains the mystery to us. People don’t think God’s speaking is powerful, don’t think it works every time, because look at the results. If God speaking were so powerful then why do so many hear it and walk away in unbelief? Why do so many hear it and believe for a while and then reject it? Why do so many believe and then choose the riches and cares of a world that is perishing instead?

The fault is not in the Word. It’s not in God speaking. He could create sons of Abraham from stones, St. John the Baptist tells us, but He cannot create sons of God from stones. He has to create sons of God from sinners. The stone wouldn’t resist Him, but our sin will. The question is not how God can’t convert everyone, but how He converts anyone at all. His speaking is a greater thing than we can imagine. If you can think of a raving madman who absolutely despises you and wants nothing more than to flee from you or kill you and puts his hands over his ears and screams so that he can’t hear you, think of how impossible it would be to convince him that you love him and want to help him and give your life for him, then you can see what impossible things God who does the impossible accomplishes when He makes Christians out of us. 

The wonder is first of all that He wants to. He insists on it. He loves the madmen running from Him and pursues them with everything He is. He comes to them, the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it, but He shines all the brighter for it. He lives and dies for enemies to make them His friends. And He sends out His Word, seeking and calling all, speaking every time with all the sincerity of eternal truth that He wants us all to be saved, all to be rescued from sin and death and the devil, because He loves us.

So the seed falls on the road and falls on the rocks and falls on the thorns, it goes everywhere, with reckless love that will not take no for an answer, until finally it lands on good soil and the word produces the miracle of miracles and we believe in Jesus and love Him and find a Friend and Savior in Him. 

Why throw it on the road so the devil can take it up? Why throw it on the rocks so it has no root? Why throw it among thorns so that they choke faith to death? Because that’s us, that’s people, and he loves everyone and Jesus died for everyone and he wants everyone with him cleansed from all guilt and shame. And there is nowhere else to throw the seed.

There is the good soil. But there is no good soil unless the rocks are removed and the thorns cleared away. There is no pure and simple heart in us until God breaks through hardness and unbelief and apathy, until he uproots thorns of pride and temptation and makes us to believe in our dear Lord and find in Him our treasure and pleasure and happiness. This is God’s greatest miracle and when it happens heaven rings with the rejoicing of angels and saints and creation itself pays homage to the God who alone does marvelous things.

Paul was such a man. The word God spoke to Paul met with raging hatred of Jesus and His Church, with the thorns of pride and the hardness of unbelief. But Jesus speaking on the Road to Damascus broke through it all and then there was good soil, a heart that went from raging to loving and unbelief to a faith that would suffer all rather than fall away from the Lord who bought him.

And Paul’s heart remained true, the soil remained good. And this was not Paul’s doing. The thorns still came and the hardness again and again reasserted itself, and Paul cried out to the Lord in his distress and the Lord answered him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And it this weakness, this conviction that we need God, that characterizes the good soil. It is broken up and plowed and that hurts. Thorns and rocks are daily uprooted and that hurts. Paul had a thorn in his flesh, a pain of mind or spirit or body that wouldn’t go away, a messenger of Satan that daily harassed him, and it made him call on the only Savior from sin and cling to him for dear life. There is a story told of a sailor thrown from a ship into the stormy sea and the captain throwing out a rope to the drowning man. He clung to it for dear life and when they dragged him up into the boat the rope was imprinted in his hands and they couldn’t separate it from him. This is faith. The raging about us, the temptations and pains and knowledge of our sin and the fact that we must die and face our Maker, it all drives us to cling for dear life to the God who speaks to us and forgives us and strengthens us in our weakness.

The good soil is good because the farmer tends it. Our God tends us. You may think you are not good soil because the thorns of temptation are all around you and so often you feel yourself cold and unfeeling to God’s speaking. But God loves you and His love takes the thorns and the rocks and rips them out and that hurts, but He is loving you and He is making you good soil so that your weakness can take in His Word and give you the strength that trusts in Him for forgiveness and life and the peace this world cannot take away. 

Do you suffer from temptation? Do the desires of your sinful flesh make you think and do things that are unworthy of the children of God? Do you have pains and circumstances in your life that bring you down and make you miserable? Then cling to the Word that is stronger than heaven and earth, stronger than all temptations and the devil and sin and unbelief and doubting. Jesus Christ did not die in vain. He did not spill His blood for nothing. He did not rise to leave you alone. He bled for you, He died for you, He rose for you. And now he speaks to you and for you and will not stop speaking His love to you till you see Him in paradise.

Whatever pains he puts in your life he puts there only to make you weak so that you find all your strength in Him. And his strength is sufficient for you. Heaven and earth and all temptations and sin will pass away but the Word of God that declares you righteous, that named you a child of God in your Baptism, that feeds you with the body and blood of the God who loves you, it will never pass away. There is no greater power in heaven or on earth and God is working a miracle daily in you. He sows the seed and you see the fruits, even if through tears, and the fruits are simply beautiful: you know your God and He knows you and the life you live you live by faith in the Son of God who loves you and gave Himself for you, so that whether you live or die, you are His and He is yours and you have eternal life and nothing will snatch you from His hands. Amen.

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