Sermon Audio & Transcript
Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
May the words of my mouth and meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight oh God, our rock, and our redeemer!
The word of God for our meditation today is the gospel reading from Matthew 13. The series of parables that we find in Matthew chapter 13 that deal with the kingdom of God. Last week in our reading we talked about the four types of soil in which the seed of the gospel lands. Today we look at another aspect of the kingdom of God, and this is the visible church on earth.
Jesus tells the parable about a farmer who went out to sow his seed, and he sowed good seed. Today the closest translation that we have would be wheat, but it’s not exactly like the wheat that is grown here in America. It’s a little bit rougher and coarser. It’s a little bit hardier due to the need for crops be able to be grown without irrigation in a very arid climate, and so the wheat that Jesus is talking about is more similar to many of the weeds that grow up in Palestine. And so the farmer went out to sow good seed, but as they observe the fields, they saw that there was also bad seed. In the King James Version of the Bible translation, it calls it Tares (T A R E S), another word for this kind of weed that grows up looking very much like the wheat, the grain stock. But as the grain matures, the wheat that shows itself in the head becomes obvious, but right next to it and scattered throughout the field you’ve got these lifeless heads of grass. I always pictured growing up, I don’t know if you are familiar with Johnson grass out here in California, but in Texas, the wild fields grow tall with Johnson grass that forms a head. If it gets long enough, and the head kind of reminds a person of the head of wheat but it’s really just very thin seeds that are contained in that Johnson grass.
So the servants of this farmer came to him one day after the maturing of the grain and noticed that there was weed together with, I don’t mean weed. There were weeds, gotta be careful how you speak nowadays. There were reads among the wheat, and they asked the question, they said Lord do you want us to go and pull up the weeds, so that the wheat can flourish even better, and the master gave this assessment of the situation, He said no, if you’re pulling up the weeds you might also damage the roots of the wheat so let them both grow together and on harvest day we will first go through and we will rip out the bad weeds, and then we will burn them in the fire, and then we will go and gather the wheat and will bring it into the barn.
So the disciples were puzzling about this, and as they went into the home where I imagine this is where they were going to eat a meal, and where they were going to be able to spend the night. They asked what is this mean, and Jesus explained to them just what you read in the text, and he very clearly gives us the meaning for every symbol here in the parable. One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. So Jesus is the agent he’s bringing his word to people. The field is the world, note the planet earth on which we live. The good seeds are sons of the kingdom, the gospel is planted in their hearts, and they become sons of God. They belong in the church of God. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. The evil one has planted the weeds are among the wheat. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The reapers are angels. Therefore just as the weeds are gathered up and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will pull out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and those who continue to break the law.
One of the hardest questions I think to answer in the Christian faith is the question of suffering. Would you agree? Why is there suffering in the world? If God is good, and if God is all-powerful, then couldn’t God have created a world in which there is no suffering. Couldn’t he have prevented the fall of Satan and the fall of mankind, so that they would not be evil and cause suffering. Couldn’t God confound the plans of Satan and of evil people so that there would be no suffering? Couldn’t God heal every disease, right? Couldn’t God take away all pain without people ever having to experience it? Maybe you’re not so bold as to ask God to take away all pain, but maybe you can think about those very intense kinds of suffering, and you wonder why doesn’t God prevent that from happening? A child who is abused by a parent or another caregiver. A man who suffers for many months with terminal cancer. Not only does he suffer but his family around him suffers terribly as they see him suffer.
The hearts that we have that are drawn and tempted to evil, and as we fight against those temptations we suffer. And as we fall into temptation, then our consciences suffer, or we see the crime on the streets, and we hear about the wars that are fought in the world, and acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and man-made disasters, and we think God, why does it have to be this way? Why don’t you change things? Isn’t that a hard question to answer? Why doesn’t God? I heard this question from a young person who was a victim of abuse recently? How did the world get so messed up? And I hear it in a different form from an old person who is bereaved of a deer wife or husband. Why did you let this happen? But before we can really answer that question I think we have to look at Jesus parable, and we have to understand a little bit more about what it means. We can say first of all that God is a good God and to say that he is good doesn’t just mean that he has a characteristic of being good. That means that he fully embodies good. Good is his essence. God is good. God is goodness, and if we recognize that God is goodness itself, we have to say that everything then that God does is good.
At the beginning of creation, God said it was all good. Human beings were good. The animals were good. The plants were good. The universe was good. This planet was all good. There was nothing harmful and nothing in it that was hurtful, or not God pleasing, but we also hear in the scriptures own account that that evil came about by Satan’s own will. God had created Satan as an angel of light. As a being who would gladly serve God forever. In fact, God created an uncountable number of angels. Of course, God knows how many angels there are. The number of angels that God created was cut, however by Satan, and by those who followed Satan in his rebellion so that there now exist both angels and demons. Demons are led by the devil, who also sought to bring human beings into this rebellion, and that was the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and she gave some to Adam who also ate of it. At that moment they realize that they were sinful, and they fled from God instead of looking forward to his visit in the evening. They fled and hid. They said I was afraid because I realized I was naked. God said, “Who told you were naked?” It was not shameful before, but now all of a sudden you have the sense of shame because Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now they did understand evil not just as a theory, but as an experience. God could have prevented that couldn’t he? But one of the things that we have to say about the fact that God doesn’t prevent all evil is that God allows us to have some free will. God allows us to make choices. God allowed Satan to make a terrible choice that results in him suffering apart from God. Suffering in terrible torment forever. God allows people to make a decision that is to walk away from God too. God is not happy with those decisions that people make. He was certainly not the author of Satan’s rebellion, but that’s the reason that this world is so messed up.
You know we Americans are kind of an optimistic bunch of people. We always think that things are getting better and better. We have so much technology, and the speed of the growth of knowledge and technology is picking up the pace. The rate of acceleration is accelerating, and we find that we have so much communication, and transportation, and medical awareness and capabilities, that it’s amazing if we think just back to it one generation ago. And things are getting better in many ways, but you know what? In many ways technology that we have to simply shows that our human nature has not changed. Perverts have one more avenue to use to exploit their perversions. People have another way to get to where they want to go to make money off those that they’re exploiting. With medical technology also comes this feeling that we should play God, to try to stop God from doing what God is going to do. All of us one day are going to die. This is a result of the fall into sin. This is a result of our own sin.
And for a believer, if we look at death, we look at it as a portal or entrance into an eternal kingdom where there is no more pain, or suffering, or tears. We enter into a place where we experience God firsthand. Where we see him and, where we celebrate him, and he welcomes us. Individually as we and our life here on earth and go to heaven, we are going to be rejoicing. The way that Hans Wagner I’m convinced is rejoicing today and has been since Wednesday afternoon. That he sees the face of God and he’s reunited with loved ones who preceded him in the faith.
One day according to Scripture, Jesus Christ himself will return in the clouds. We call that the last day, or the day of judgment. In that day Jesus is going to gather the wheat into his barn and is going to cast the weeds into the fire. It is on that day that God is going to change everything so that everything is right. Now you through faith in Jesus Christ have already been declared to be right, and so in your inner self with your joy, and with your confidence, and with your faith, you are already experiencing the abundant and full life that God has prepared for you. But when that last day comes and God purges all of the evil from this world and where he purges us as well from the experience and the participation of evil. When we will no longer have any evil temptations. The sinful nature will be a thing of the past. Where we will no longer suffer from the sinful activities of others. That will truly be a reward. Not one that we deserve, but one that God has prepared for us, for which God has paid for us, and for which God sincerely desires you and me to have.
Why is there evil in the world? We can’t really answer that question in a logical and in a reasonable and rational way that is going to satisfy our human longing for answers, but when we look at what God has really done in sending his son Jesus Christ to bear our sins on himself, to suffer and die for us so that we don’t have to suffer, and to make death a thing of a blessing for a believer, not a curse. When we look at the things that God tells us he’s prepared for us in heaven. Jesus, through the apostle Paul, has told us that the blessing, the glory that will be revealed in us is not even worthy of comparison with the glory, or with the suffering that we have in the present age. Yes, suffering is terrible today. The world being so messed up, it is awful, it is rough. And especially I think for young people who don’t have the length of experience that the older people do, it can be extremely trying on their faith, but there will come that day.
In the gospel reading, it says, in Jesus words, “the righteous will shine like the sun.” I think we look forward to that day. If there were no sin, we would not know how wonderful by comparison the Lord’s goodness and glory is.
And if there were no suffering, we would not know by comparison how wonderful the shining of the sun in the lives of every believer will be.
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
- Satan’s evil tricks
- Man’s fall into sin
- Not yet the World to Come
SERMON TEXT: Matthew 13:24–30, 36-43
See Gospel Below
FIRST LESSON: Joel 3:12-16
Let the nations be roused. Let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow, because their wickedness is so great! Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision! For the Day of the Lord is near in the Valley of Decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars will stop shining. The Lord will roar from Zion and shout from Jerusalem. The sky and the earth will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.
SECOND LESSON: 1 Peter 4:1–8
Therefore, because Christ suffered in flesh, arm yourselves with the same mindset, because the one who has suffered in flesh is done with sin. Do this so that you no longer live the rest of your time in the flesh for human desires but for God’s will. Indeed, you have already spent enough time in the past doing what the Gentiles want to do: living in unbridled immorality, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and disgusting idolatry. For this reason, they are surprised that you do not plunge into the same overflowing river of filth with them, and they slander you. They will have to give an account to the one who is ready to judge the living and the dead. In fact, it was for this reason that the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, so that they might be judged the way people are judged in flesh and that they might live the way God lives in spirit. The end of all things is near. So have sound judgment and be self-controlled for the sake of your prayers. Above all, love each other constantly, because love covers a multitude of sins.
VERSE OF THE DAY: Isaiah 55:11b (NIV)
My Word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
GOSPEL: Matthew 13:24–30, 36-43 (EHV)
He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced heads of grain, the weeds also appeared. The servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy did this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather up the weeds?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because when you gather up the weeds, you might pull up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the weeds, bind them in bundles, and burn them. Then, gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Then Jesus sent the people away and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He answered them, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the Evil One. The enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The reapers are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered up and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will pull out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and those who continue to break the law. The angels will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”