Sunday's Sermon (Print Copy)

 

"Broken Soil"

 by Pastor Wayne

July 12, 2020 - 6th Sunday after Pentecost - A

 

Sermon text: “Listen!  A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along 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.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Let anyone with ears listen!” – Matthew 13:3b-9

 

What does Jesus’ “Parable of the Sower” mean?

Well, the sower in the parable represents God.

The seed represents God’s word.

The different types of soil represent different people.

 

In the parable, some of the seeds fell along a path.

The birds came and quickly ate them.

According to Jesus, the packed-down dirt of the path

      represent people who have hardened their hearts against God.

They will not let God into their lives.

Maybe sometimes our hearts are like packed-down dirt.

We might hear the sounds of God’s Word

            but the message doesn’t sink in.

 

Some of the seeds also fell on rocky ground,

            where it had not much soil.

The plants grew quickly,

      but since their roots had little depth,

            they quickly withered in the hot sun.

According to Jesus, this shallow rocky ground

      represents people who initially hear God’s Word gladly.

For a while they listen to it and grow in faith.

But their faith is shallow

      and when hard times come, their faith quickly withers.

Maybe sometimes our faith is rocky

      and quickly withers when hard times come.

 

Some of the seeds also fell on soil full of weeds.

When the plants tried to grow,

            the weeds robbed them of sunlight, moisture, and nutrients.

The weeds soon choked out the life of the plants.

According to Jesus, the weedy soil

      represents people who hear the word,

            but their faith gets crowded out

      by “the cares of the world and the lure of wealth.”

Maybe sometimes our faith gets crowded out

            by “the cares of the world and the lure of wealth.”

 

But some of the seeds fell on good soil.

Farmers understand well the importance of having good soil

            in order to grow good crops.

In considering renting or buying some farm ground,

            the first thing a farmer considers is the quality of the soil.

Good crops need good soil.

In his parable, Jesus said that the good soil represents people

            who hear the Word of God and understand it.

The faith in this type of person grows and grows

            and in time it produces much fruit.

 

What needs to be done to soil before seeds can grow in it?

Well, it needs to be broken opened in some way, doesn’t it?

A seed isn’t going to grow if it is just lying on the top of the soil.

It needs to be inside of the soil.

The soil needs to be tilled in some way so that it is broken open.

 

So it is with our lives.

We need to be broken open first to receive God’s word.

There are many things in life that can cause us to be broken –

      things like sickness, heartache, failure, sin,

            loneliness, despair, death, abandonment, strife.

Of course, it is very painful and difficult to be a broken person.

But it is when we are broken

            that we are most receptive to the seed of God’s Word.

God so desperately wants to plant

            the seed of his word into our lives.

But sometimes our soil is like a harden path

            and unreceptive to the seed.

And sometimes our soil is like rocky ground

            and the seeds grow only for a brief while.

And sometimes our soil is like weedy ground

            and the seeds get choked out by the cares of the world.

But sometimes… our soil is like broken ground

            eager and receptive for the seed of God’s Word.

Broken soil is the good soil that is needed.

 

It is so important that we listen to the Word of God…

      that we listen to his Word on Sunday morning…

            that we read the Bible on a regular basis…

                  that we allow the seed of God’s Word to grow in us.

Jesus said this about God’s word:

            “Let anyone with ears listen!”

Listening to the Word of God

      is how faith begins to grow in us

            and in time grows deep and strong and tall

                  and is able to produce good fruit

                        for the sake of others

                              and for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

 

I often receive compliments about how meaningful

            people have found a funeral service or sermon

                  that I have just given.

Now I don’t think that funeral services or sermons

            are really any more meaningful

                  than a typical Sunday service or sermon.

But what makes a funeral service or sermon seem more meaningful

            is that the grieving people are feeling broken.

Like broken soil, these people by the death of a loved one

            have had their lives broken open

      and so they are very receptive

            to the planting of the seed of God’s Word into their lives.

They need to hear God’s comforting and assuring Word

            so very desperately!

 

A popular preacher by the name of Vance Havner once said:

      “God uses broken things.

      It takes broken soil to produce a crop,

            broken clouds to give rain,

                  broken grain to give bread,

                        broken bread to give strength.

      It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.

      It is Peter, weeping bitterly,

            who returns to greater power than ever.”

 

Well, God still uses broken people today.

 

In the book of Deuteronomy, there is a verse that says:

      “And these words which I command you this day

            shall be upon your heart” (6:6 RSV).

 

An old Jewish teaching on this text explains it this way:

A disciple asks the Rabbi, “Why does the Torah tell us to

            ‘place these words upon your hearts’?

Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?” The Rabbi answers, ‘It is because as we are, our hearts are closed,

      and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts.

So we place them on top of our hearts.

And there they stay until one day the heart breaks open

            and the words fall in.”

 

Yes, God’s Word is placed on our hearts,

      “until one day the heart breaks open

                  and the words fall in.”

 

Indeed, something very good can come out of our brokenness.

Because the seed of God’s Word grows best in…

                  broken soil.

     

      Amen.