Text: Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23
Theme: The Reckless Sower
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
1. Matthew 13, verses 1-9 and 18-23 serves as our sermon text for this
morning, which reads as follows:
(1) That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
(2) And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and
sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.
(3) And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to
(4) And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came
and devoured them.
(5) Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil,
and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,
(6) but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root,
they withered away.
(7) Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
(8) Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold,
some sixty, some thirty.
(9) He who has ears, let him hear.”
(18) “Hear then the parable of the sower:
(19) When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it,
the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This
is what was sown along the path.
(20) As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the
word and immediately receives it with joy,
(21) yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when
tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he
(22) As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the
word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the
word, and it proves unfruitful.
(23) As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word
and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a
hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
1. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
– Give us patience, dear Lord, when the tasks of this life seem hard
and unending. Amen.
1. That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And
great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down.
And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in
parable, saying: “A sower went out to sow.” (verse 1-3)
1. During a portion of this Pentecost season, we are going to take a
break from hearing a message on one of the assigned readings of the day and
instead have a topical series called “Parables for Pentecost”. First up:
the parable of the sower.
1. Why did Jesus tell the parable of the sower, and what’s the point of
1. Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them
in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the
secrets [mysteries] of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been
given.” (verses 10–11)
1. So Jesus’ parables are like the pillar of fire that lit the night for
the Israelites fleeing from Egypt that at the same time cast darkness on
Pharaoh and his armies chasing them.
1. “The kingdom of heaven” means the same thing as “the kingdom of God.”
1. It’s just that before Mark and Luke, Matthew was written when more
of the Church was comprised of converted Jews, who have a hard
too many mentions of the name of God.
2. So thus, the “kingdom of heaven” is mentioned.
3. And what does “kingdom” mean?
1. Well, when we say kingdom in our day and age, we probably conjure up
the idea of a place, a realm.
1. The Kingdom of Great Britain, or the Magic Kingdom.
2. Look! There it is.
3. But when the Bible talks about God’s kingdom, it’s not talking
about so many square miles.
1. Jesus said, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for
himself a kingdom and then return” (Luke 19:12).
1. Now the man didn’t haul a thousand square miles of land back with
2. Receiving a kingdom means to be made king.
3. To be given royal rank.
4. To reign, as in, “Jesus Christ, . . . who lives and reigns with
You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
1. So when Jesus talks about the “secrets [or mysteries] of the
kingdom,” he’s teaching us about how God reigns, specifically and
exclusively through himself.
1. And he told this particular parable because there was a question
about it—an elephant in the room.
2. Just prior to this passage, the religious rulers were already
looking for a way to eliminate Jesus, for healing a man on the sabbath,
among other things.
3. They accused him of being an agent of Satan.
1. It was then that Jesus quoted our sixteenth president, Abe Lincoln,
saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (cf Matthew 12:25).
1. The rulers demanded signs, after condemning him for performing
2. The crowds were divided.
1. So all this opposition begged the question:
1. “Hey, how come this isn’t working?
2. Why don’t people just believe and follow Jesus?
3. What are we doing wrong?
4. What is he doing wrong?
5. Is this how the rule and reign of God is supposed to work?”
6. It’s not effective.
7. It’s not efficient!
1. It wasn’t just followers in general but some well-known Bible
characters who questioned God’s methods.
1. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Nathanael; John 1:46).
2. “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
(John the Baptist; Luke 7:19).
3. “Many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him”
(the crowd; John 6:66).
4. “They watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the
Sabbath, so that they might accuse him” (Pharisees; Mark 3:2).
5. “They all left him and fled” (the disciples; Mark 14:50).
1. “Lord, this business of You offering heaven for free to anyone and
everyone, and in return getting rejected, and persecuted on top of it,
can’t be the way this is supposed to go!” Is it?
1. And so comes this parable, and six more after it, explaining the secrets,
the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
1. If you want to travel with Jesus, this is the travel brochure.
1. But this parable for today is different than the others because this
one is the foundation for the other six.
1. They’re all strung together like verses of a hymn, which is really
not a bad idea!
1. As we explore what this parable is all about, we do so by taking
the time to examine a series of “moments” crucial to our understanding of
2. First up: the “oops” moment.
1. (Oops) The word understand carries the sense of bothering to understand.
1. We have the parable itself, and the explanation.
1. But the parable itself tells us more about the sower, Jesus.
1. The explanation tells us more about the soils, the ones who hear
2. What does the explanation say about you and me?
3. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand
it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.
This is what was sown along the path” (verse 19).
4. Again, the word understand carries with it the sense of bothering
2. (Ugh) The problem is not with the word of the kingdom, but us.
1. Listen to the familiar words of the Collect for the Word:
1. “Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written
for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark,
learn, and inwardly
digest them that, by patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may
embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through
Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
1. Jesus is saying to us in the parable for today:
1. “I know that many people are going to let my words go in one ear
and out the other.
2. They are not interested in understanding.”
3. They don’t want to be bothered in order to understand.
1. It’s true.
1. A lot of people like Jesus’ style, his courage, his spunk; they
like his style on Palm Sunday with the parade on the donkey; but when
it comes to Friday of Holy Week, it was easier to yell “Crucify!” than to
take in what Palm Sunday was about.
2. The problem is with the hearer, not with the word of the kingdom.
3. This is one huge reason Jesus told this parable.
1. Why did Jesus tell the parable?
1. It’s part of the brochure that tells you how things are so that
when it happens, you will recognize it and continue doing God’s will
instead of panicking, saying “This can’t be right,” and changing the
seed or—let’s come right out and say it—changing the Word, changing the
Gospel to fit the dirt.
2. Marketing the dirt so we’ll know what kind of seed to use.
3. Notice, there’s no mention of the sower looking at the negative
results and changing the “seed.”
1. Did you notice that Jesus did not say:
1. “The sower threw seed on the path but didn’t use the right kind of
seed. Therefore the birds came and devoured them.”
2. He said they did not take it in, so the evil one comes and
snatches away what has been sown in his heart.
3. This is what was sown along the path
1. You’ve sown there too, haven’t you?
1. Sure you have.
2. And what happened? You got nothing. No response.
3. And you thought, “What am I doing wrong?”
4. Hey, sure, we all could be better at sharing the Gospel, showing
Jesus more clearly, more accurately.
1. But tell the truth.
1. It’s Jesus they didn’t want to take in.
2. It may be exactly because you showed them Jesus clearly that you
got no response.
3. You didn’t do anything wrong.
4. And neither did the Lord by sending you, or Isaiah, or Paul.
5. The evil one that comes and snatches away what has been sown would
be just as happy for results-orientated Christians to change the seed
6. That would actually save the devil the trouble of snatching it
1. Or maybe we’ve been that soil that says “No!”
1. And we’re so afraid the seed will take root that we let the evil
one snatch it away.
3. Just by hearing the Word once in a while.
4. That way, we can manage the germination and still run our own life.
1. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the
word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself,
but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on
account of the word, immediately he falls away. (verses 20–21)
1. Rocky ground.
1. How sad it must have been for Jesus telling all this to Simon ,
and the other disciples.
2. Jesus would very soon name Simon to be known also as
“Peter”—literally, “Rocky”—who thought he had root in himself.
3. Peter swore he did, but he fell away when tribulation or
persecution arose on account of the Word.
4. Scary, isn’t it, when we realize we have no root in ourselves?
5. Maybe that’s because we have our eyes on ourselves.
6. “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the
word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches
word, and it proves unfruitful” (verse 22).
1. The deceitfulness of riches—wow!
1. What riches are we talking about back then?
2. A camel of your own?
3. A deeper cistern in your backyard?
4. Maybe three extra tunics instead of two?
5. If these are the distractions they let choke the Word out of their
lives, how would they do in today’s amusement park we call everyday life?
6. How did we even have a fighting chance—let alone turn ourselves
into good dirt!
3.(Aha) You bear fruit not because you turned yourself into good dirt but
because he’s been waiting for you before you were conceived.
1. We did not or cannot figure out the secrets or mysteries of the
kingdom on our own.
1. Jesus declares: “To you it has been given to know.”
2. He said the same thing earlier in chapter 11:
1. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have
hidden these things from the wise and understanding and
revealed them to
little children” (verse 25).
3. And later in chapter 16:
1. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not
revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (verse 17).
4. What is Jesus saying?
1. You are here, the one who hears the Word and understands it.
1. You indeed bear fruit and yield, “in one case a hundredfold, in
another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:23).
2. This happened not because you turned yourself into good dirt, but
because he’s been waiting for you before you were conceived.
1. How the seed took root in us is why it’s called the secret, the
mystery of the kingdom!
1. By God’s grace—finally!—we took it in and our hearts broke, he
overtook us and distractions melted away, and our gaze was transferred from
the thorns that choked our devotion to the thorns that pierced his brow . .
. and we came alive!
4. (Wow) You have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,
1. You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,
“Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we
are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow
heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be
glorified with him.” (Romans 8:15–17)
1. It was the seed that did all that! It was the Sower’s work.
1. And of course, our inquiring minds still want to know: Why us and not
1. This is the “problem of theology”.
2. We don’t know who finally comprises “us”—not yet.
3. It’s not like Jesus is holding back.
1. Jesus can say, “Hey, this ground is kind of rocky but I’m sowing
1. He knows what he’s getting into.
2. He knows how much work we will be, what a challenge it will be.
3. Look how carelessly and lavishly he sows!
4. He indiscriminately throws seed everywhere!
5. On the one hand, if rocky, hard hearts or shallow, worldly hearts
say no, it’s not because they didn’t see their ship come in.
6. On the other hand, We’re Safe in His Arms Because the Sower Was So
Reckless with the Seed for All Our Sakes.
1. But why so reckless with the seed?
1. Isn’t that too precious a message to squander on those who don’t
have a clue and don’t want to?
2. Oh, dear redeemed children of God, his recklessness concerning you
is much bigger than seed.
3. He was reckless with his blood!
4. He shall sprinkle many nations!
5. He was reckless with his dignity!
6. High and lifted up!
7. He earned the right to scatter seed in such a lavish way when he
set his face toward Jerusalem and our cross!
1. As the Good Friday hymn says:
1. “O sorrow dread! Our God is dead.”
2. This is a big purchase!
3. There is plenty of seed!
4. We’re Safe in His Arms Because the Sower Was So Reckless with the
Seed for All Our Sakes.
5. (Yeah) This seed is powerful indeed!
1. How powerful is this seed?
1. “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not
return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I
purpose, and shall
succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
1. The success is his business and not ours , and he alone shall define
success, and not us.
1. Our happy business is to take in the Word, keep bearing fruit, and
joyfully and recklessly sow seed with him, saying: “All is forgiven.”
1. Jesus says to all of us: “Come home!” Amen.
1. Let us pray:
– Jesus, you are the Divine Sower. Keep us from becoming discouraged
as we entrust our lives to Your Word and seek to share Your message of
salvation with others. Amen.
1. The peace of God, which transcends all human understanding, guard
your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.