God’s Eternal Optimism
February 4, 2018
With a great crowd coming to Him from town after town Jesus speaks to them in a parable. The parable of the Sower is simple enough. And yet, what does it mean? That’s what the disciples wanted to know. They asked Jesus. His response is puzzling at the least and perhaps even distressing. “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” We often think of parables as simple stories designed to make the mysteries of God clear to people. And yet here Jesus seems to be saying that this parable is spoken more to cover things up.
He then tells the disciples what the parable means. The seed is the Word of God. The sower sows his seed and there are different kinds of soil it lands on. In telling them what happens to the seed on the different kinds of soil it’s easy to get the impression that it’s all very depressing. Out of four types of soil the seed comes to nothing in three of them. Only in one type of soil does the seed produce fruit. Nevertheless, fruit is produced. And the bounty is significant.
The seed is the Word. That’s what our Lord invites us to focus on. Because though it may seem that the seed is sown and nothing comes of it, the seed is nevertheless sown. The Word of God is made known. And even when it seems that nothing results from it, it nevertheless is made known. To the crowd none of this was clear. Apparently to the disciples it wasn’t either. Jesus explained it. But it isn’t until Jesus actually dies on the cross and rises from the grave that what He is talking about becomes clear to them.
The seed is the Word of God. This parable tells what God has been up to since the beginning. It was by His Word that He created the heavens and the earth. When He created Adam and Eve He spoke to them. He spoke to their descendants all the way down to us. When Adam and Eve fell into sin He spoke His Word to them. Though all was lost God did not despair. He rather gave them hope. He promised them salvation. Down through the ages as people have continued to fall into sin God has not given up hope. He continued to make known His Word, continued to forgive people their sins.
Where there is mostly unbelief in the world that does not stop God from proclaiming His Word. To Him the type of soil is immaterial. As He said after He spoke the parable, Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear. If you refuse to listen it doesn’t mean that the Word has not been made known to you it means that you have refused to hear. For some people, they hear the Word but the devil comes and takes away the Word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The devil is powerful, as we can see from his deception of Adam and Eve. Jesus teaches us in His prayer He taught us to pray, Deliver us from evil. God continues to make His Word known, but the devil is always ready to pounce.
Others hear the word and receive it with joy. But there is no root. They believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. God’s Word is powerful. But when we struggle, the Word doesn’t seem so powerful. When we go through the fire of trials we search for other help. Eventually, not trusting in God’s Word, we fall away.
Then there are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. Just as with trials, the cares of life, the riches the world offers, and the pleasures available seem far more powerful than the simple Word of God. There’s too much to do and too many ways to get the most out of life to put your trust solely in God’s Word.
But as Jesus began, the seed is the Word. And the Word of God always goes forth. In the midst of a fallen world and our own sinful nature which trusts in things other than the Word and the devil constantly attacking us, God proclaims His Word. He is undaunted by our lack of trust, our continuing in the same sins over and over, even our disregard for His Word. He continues to proclaim, continues to speak to us.
Now the word we need to hear in this regard is judgment. If you do not see that you sin in your lack of trust, then you will end up rejecting God and His Word. So He charges you for your lack of trust. Sin is deeper than you know. If God does not reveal this to you you will never know. So He does. You are a sinner. You rightfully deserve eternal damnation. This is not an easy word to hear from God and it explains why so many people reject it. They choose rather to believe that they are not really that bad. But you should not listen to that. Listen to God, that you are utterly corrupt.
How else will you be able to know His Word of forgiveness to you? That though you are a sinner to your very core, He gives you nothing but mercy. He takes your sin and places them on His own Son. All the judgment and condemnation you rightly should receive was taken by Jesus and put to death in His own death. This is the seed. This is the Word of God that He always makes known. As long as this world continues on God will continue on with proclaiming His Word. He does not see hopelessness but optimism. Why else would He have given His very own Son unless He sees eternal hope that people will be saved?
He is so intent on this that He sows His seed of the Word not just in one way but many. There are many temptations in life and trials in life and you act on many of those temptations and grow weary in many of those trials. So God comes to you in His Word in many different ways.
Each day you are given opportunity to go back to the Word you first heard as a Christian, because it is the Word that made you a Christian. The Word of Baptism declared you to be God’s own child. He put His name on you, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. When you wake each day, wake with these words on your lips, commending yourself in body and soul to the day ahead in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This Word of God is for you personally. You are Baptized. You are forgiven. You are saved from your sin.
You are given opportunity each week to hear God’s Word proclaimed in such a way where whatever you are going through in your life is incorporated into the life of Christ as the Word of God is proclaimed in the context of the Church Year, which takes you through the life of Christ. What Christ accomplished, He accomplished for you. The proclamation of the Word of each Sunday is a proclamation to you as you go through life. It is proclaimed anew each week so that you not only are forgiven by this Gospel proclamation but you are growing in union with Christ.
This proclamation of the Word of God naturally flows into the gift of Christ’s Word He attaches to the bread and wine of His Supper. In this Word He says that you are actually receiving not only bread and wine but His very body and blood. And in this Word He says that you are receiving His body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. You struggle to overcome sin. You are weak and you are attacked by Satan and you are tempted in so many ways. Christ gives you Himself, right here, at His altar; right here, in bread and wine. He gives you Himself; after all, He has said so by His Word, This is My body, This is My blood.
Many other opportunities are given to you. Hearing the Word of forgiveness when you confess your sins. Studying the Word with your brother and sister Christians. Being in the Word and prayer in personal and family devotions. Talking with your brother and sister Christians about the Word. And of course as God makes His Word known to you you make it known to others. You can take your cue from Him if it seems that sharing the Gospel does not produce any results. As He is eternally optimistic, so you can be too. Trusting not in your own efforts but in the power of the Word God. Amen.