Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
February 12, 2012
Central Passage
Luke 8:4-15
+ Luke 8:4-15 +
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
To the outsider, Jesus spoke in parables so that seeing they would not perceive and in hearing they would not understand.  But to you who are His disciples, His followers, it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  Our Lord still speaks in parables to the outsider.  We call these parables sacraments.
The unbeliever sees water and ritual, and hears the Word of God that the one washed by water and the word is buried with Christ and raised to new life in Jesus.  But seeing they do not perceive. They see only ecclesiastical ritual and pomp.  They don’t perceive one being born again by water and the Spirit.  They hear only words read from a book; they don’t hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling His own.
Confession and absolution. Preaching.
The unbeliever sees a gathering of men, women, and children, this gathering, gathered around rites, ritual, and ceremony.  They see liars, gluttons, the sexually immoral, the addicted, the hypocrites, the arrogant, the rude, swindlers; they see sinners.  But they don’t see heaven on earth.  They see only the veil.  But we see the veil torn in two.  We see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  We see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God, and we cry out with St. Stephen, “Lord, receive my spirit.”
The unbeliever hears the gathering call the bread and wine the Lord’s body and blood, but all they see is bread and wine.  They don’t see the Lord of life giving His people life, feeding them from heaven the bread of heaven and watering them from the Rock that is Christ.  Seeing they do not perceive and hearing they do not understand. But it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. You see heaven on earth where the Lord of glory comes and dwells with His people; you hear the voice of God, the voice of your Good Shepherd, and you rejoice at His voice and are renewed by His strength.
That’s because you’re the good soil.  This gathering is the good soil.
The Sower sows His seed which is the preaching of the gospel, and it has taken root in you.  On hearing the word of the Lord – the word of reconciliation with God, the word of life and salvation – you hold fast to it with an honest and good heart, bearing fruit with patience.  The fruit you bear is not good works. The fruit you bear is holding fast to the gospel. The point of the Christian life is not to progress in holiness, as if you can be more holy than you already are in Christ.  The point of the Christian life is not to become a better person, as if you can shed yourself of your old Adam before the grave and attain what not even the apostles attained.  The point of the Christian life is not behavior modification or moral greatness.  These things may be good, but they aren’t the goal of the Christian life, of the spiritual disciplines.  The goal of the Christian life is to hold fast to Christ.   It is to know that in all things that His grace is sufficient for you.  That is the fruit you produce, and it is born with patience.
But we are an impatient people.  Microwaves, credit cards, lotteries, Netflix, DVR’s, and drive-thru’s tell us this much.  We want what we want and we want it now.  And if we can’t have it now we’re not apt to wait around for it.  It’s no surprise that many in whom the seed is sown are choked by the cares and troubles of this life.  They have no patience to hear His Word, to teach their children, or to suffer discipline from the Lord.  If God really loves us, they reason, then we shouldn’t suffer the way we do, and life should be easier.  But because we suffer and because the devil whispers in our ears that even though we’re supposed to be God’s chosen people we still suffer, then we look to be relieved of our suffering by chasing after false gods.
If we think we suffer because we are poor, then we will follow a god that promises riches.  If we think we suffer because of other people, then we will follow the god that tells us to look after ourselves and our own interests.  If we think we suffer because of empty pews, then we will follow a god that fills our pews.  If we think we suffer because of our sin, we will chase the god who tells we can become sinless.  If we think we suffer because of other people’s sins, we will worship the god that tells us to reject sinners, instead of worshiping the God that receives and eats with sinners.  Whatever reason we think we suffer, we will look for and follow the god or gods that promise us relief from our suffering.
That’s what happens to the bad soil.  The devil steals the promise.  The rocks prevent growth.  The weeds choke our faith.  And no fruit is produced; no patience is born.
It is only when we learn and know and understand that we suffer because the world rejects God and rebels against Him and hates Him deserves His wrath and displeasure but that by His own blood He redeemed us, by His death He gives us life, by His obedience He gives us righteousness that we will listen to and follow the true God who nailed our sin to His cross and bore our iniquity in His body and reconciled us to His heavenly Father that we should have peace with God.
This faith that clings to Christ, born of the planted word and watered by the Spirit sent from heaven, this faith gives us patience to endure suffering because we know that the suffering we endure is not comparable to the glory to be revealed at the resurrection of all flesh.  This faith knows that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for you.
And this is His grace, that He is patient toward you.  He gives you His word, His life, His promises over and over again.  He bathes you in them and fills you with them.  Time and again He brings you to repentance and faith by watering the word sown in you with the word preached to you in His parables.  He does not abandon you for better soil.  Of His own will and choice He waters, feeds, nurtures, keeps, and protects you from all evil, preparing a place for you in His Father’s kingdom.
You are the good soil.  Not because our pews are full or our Sunday School is thriving or our budget is balanced or because we end the year in the black.  Not because your marriage is perfect or your children are a blessing or because you have money in the bank.  These things are not evidence of faith. They aren’t the goal of the sown Word. They are not even the litmus test of success.  Not even a little bit.  If they are our goal, then we must plant different seed than what our Lord plants. 
You are the good soil because you are here, patiently holding fast to the word of the Lord with an honest heart, calling a spade a spade: that we are poor, miserable sinners, beggars, and that in Christ God is well-pleased in us.  We succeed when we bear fruit in patience, which is to cling to Christ alone and trust in His grace, which is sufficient for us.
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +