Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on Sexagesima Sunday 2/7/2021. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 11am, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Sexagesima Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for Sexagesima Sunday, click here.
Less than one year ago, moments before His Ascension into heaven, Jesus gave us a charge: to paraphrase the end of Matthew 28, it was: everything, to everybody, everywhere. Everything Jesus has said, done, and won, given to everyone, everywhere. This is done by the proclamation of God’s Word, and through the faithful administration of the Sacraments. At least, that’s what Jesus says when He explains that the seed is the Word of God.
You heard the story: “A Sower went out to sow.” Recklessly, joyfully, almost naively – not counting cost or loss, He casts the seed everywhere.
And if you have joined Jesus on that mission over the last year, you have been sowing, too; giving away what you yourself have received for free. And so, like most who cast seed into the ground, you’ve been hoping for results.
It’s frustrating when results don’t show: in your family, among your friends, in your church.
It’s supremely disappointing when you see someone get excited about this Gospel; throwing themselves into it, going to Church and Bible Study, sharing the Word with their own friends and family, only to fall away.
Trouble came as trouble does, and they weren’t ready for it. They were running on adrenaline and endorphins, and so, they withered away. They tried to grow up so quickly, but they had no foundation.
What’s even harder is to see those who do have a foundation, friends and family who should be flourishing, get so distracted by the cares of this world, that they end up being consumed by them.
One way you might console yourself is with this parable. You might reason to yourself that your friend is like the hardened road, and that’s why the Word was so flatly rejected. That guy from school must be like the rocky soil. That’s why he sprang up so quickly… But couldn’t last when the pandemic hit.
Your neighbor must be the ground with thorns; of course, she got choked by them.
But dirt is dirt. And none of it has a chance of being anything more unless the Word comes into it.
Now, consider the Sower. Look at how He goes about His work with reckless abandon. He is not a fool. He knows what will happen to Seed sown on roads, rocks, and thorns, and He spreads that Seed anyways.
Jesus knows what will happen when He spreads His Word.
Jesus has seen His Word preached, proclaimed, and planted. But like a road with nothing but dust on it, some who have occupied these pews have hardened themselves like concrete. Especially when the Word that is cast would grow into something desirable to God, but not desirable to them.
Jesus has seen His Word preached, proclaimed, and planted, and like a seed cast into rocky soil with no depth, He’s seen some spring up with fervor. They are thrilled and exhilarated. Hearts feel as if they are on fire… until real heat comes, and they begin to faint.
Some may happily be Christians, even publicly. But when that earns persecution or suffering, they shrink away, because they have no root.
Jesus has seen His Word preached, proclaimed, and planted among you. And as fruit begins to come up, you get distracted.
The cares of this world here, the need for more time now, the satisfaction of a bank-statement, these things suffocate you, until you just stop growing, and you bear no fruit. And then what good can you be?
None of this is a great surprise to the Sower. The Father, His Son, and His Spirit: He has seen this before.
Once He formed life from the dirt of Eden, only to see it attacked and snatched up by the evil one.
And from that moment the thorns have infested the ground; rocks prevent growth; and birds take what is not given to them.
So, the Father has replanted His Garden. The Eternal Word has been sown in the Virgin’s womb. And He has risen up among us.
Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, the Root of Jesse’s stump, the Word sown among thorns, has borne the thorns of the fallen world on His own head for you. He has suffered under the heat of His Father’s wrath against sin for you.
And when that sin, your sin, killed Him, and the Word was sown into cold, rocky earth and sealed with a stone, He cleared it away. Jesus has cast aside the stone that would keep His tomb shut, He has cast aside the stone that would keep your tomb shut. The grave now bears fruit lasting for eternity, and no stones can prevent the Sower from reaping His harvest.
In His resurrection, Jesus Christ, the Word sown on the path, has burst the bowels of the devil and hell, who consumed Him.
Truly, truly, [Jesus says] to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24
This He has done so that no evil, no heat, no stone, and no thorn may keep you from growing in Him.
Jesus has labored long, preparing the ground, tilling the soil of His Eden. He has cleared the rocks, birds, and thorns away in His death and resurrection.
He has cast His Word into you. He has watered you in Holy Baptism. And now He who has made and prepared good soil, nourishes it, feeds it.
This Jesus, this Sower who has planted you, watered you, and tended you, now feeds you.
Jesus Christ, the Sower of His Word, this very morning, gives of Himself: His own Body, broken in death for you. His own Blood, shed on the cross for you; for the forgiveness of all your sins; and for the strengthening of your faith.
When you’ve been tended to that way, if you would only let yourself be tended to, you’ll bear much fruit, too. Some thirty, sixty, some a hundredfold – but you will bear fruit.
The fruits that you will yield: a faithful witness, a joyful proclamation, works of mercy, an open ear, and loving words –
All that tasty fruit, is not for Jesus. It’s for your neighbor. It’s for your siblings. It’s for your spouse.
Just like this Sower, just like His Seed.
It is for everybody, everywhere.