7th Sunday After Pentecost July 19, 2020

Pentecost 0720 – “Who Are You?” – Matthew 13:24-34,36-43

      Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

      The text for our sermon meditation is the Gospel account of St Matthew, the 13th Chapter.

      “[Jesus] put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

      Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

So far the reading.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;

      Once again we consider a parable of our Lord.  As we heard last week, we know that the word of God is cast into the world to create faith in those who hear and lead them to salvation and eternal life.  The word of God fell upon four types of soil and in some cases produced faith while in others the Word of life was taken from the hearer because the hearer rejected God’s counsel and grace.

      Today we hear of the ones in whom the Word grew flourished.  That Word of God created faith and bore the fruit of faith.  These are the good wheat or corn spoken of by Jesus.  We hear also of those who look and act like the good wheat or corn, but are really hypocrites or unbelievers who simply go through the motions of faith.  These are the tares or weeds which grow alongside the wheat or corn.  Their works are not revealed until they mature and show their true nature in works and words which are contrary to the Word of God.

      What are God’s people to be doing about this?  How are they to address the hypocrite or unbeliever who lives near them and perhaps sits in the same pew with them each Sunday?  How does the believer respond when they are told not to judge their neighbor?  What does Jesus mean by telling His people not to uproot the tares among the good wheat?

      First we note that Jesus has planted his people in which place?  Correct, Jesus has planted his people, His Church in the world.  They have been strategically placed by Jesus in every place for a very specific purpose.  Paul writes of this purpose in Acts 17.  Hear his words.

      “24] The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25] nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26] And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27] that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.”

      The believer will truly love this passage.  These words of God spoken through St Paul give the believer comfort knowing that you are here for a purpose.  For those who wonder why they are on this earth, these words reveal the reason you are here and why you walk this world.  You never have to question your purpose in life.  God gives you His purpose.  The question is whether you believe this or not?

      Regardless of what you believe, God placed you here in this place to warn you of His impending judgment upon sin, to reveal to you His grace and mercy in the cross of Jesus Christ, and bring to you the message of His salvation.  God has done this for all people.  He placed them where they live that they might seek God, the true God, their Creator, and be restored to a right relationship with Him.

      This is the work of the Good Seed, the Church of God.  We do not transform society into a theocracy as some would want to do.  Rather we reach out to individuals that God would transform their lives and recreate them in the image of God through Word and Sacrament.  We preach and teach a kingdom that is not of this world, but is for this world and for the world that is yet to come.

      This work will not be easy for the people of God.  For Jesus reminds us there is and will always be resistance to and rebellion against the Word and will of God.  Jesus says that Satan will plant unbelievers in the midst of the Children of God.  Look at the description of those whom Satan plants in the world.  They look and sound like true believers.  They have the image and words, the actions that seem pious and faithful.  Yet they are truly anti-Christ, anti-God and anti-Church.

      Consider Judas who was an Apostle of the Lord who revealed he was apostate.  Judas went through the motions of faith and obedience to God.  He piously watched the money bag which served the needs of Jesus and His followers.  He spoke up when the penitent woman anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment.  He said the ointment could be sold and the proceeds given to the poor.  But in the end Judas revealed the god he worshiped was not the true God, but an idol.  Judas was a thief who coveted earthly riches at the expense of his eternal life.

      Today many churches piously proclaim that love and acceptance is the message of the Gospel.  Jesus demands that we love each other, and get along with each other, and accept each other without reservation, or without regard for the instruction of God’s Word.  They may go so far as to say that the Word of God is culturally conditioned and applicable only to the time of Moses or the apostles.  They profess that we in our age are more advanced in understanding. We know better than those of centuries past what is right and pleasing in the sight of God.

      They speak so as to justify sin, and to convince others that such sin is no longer evil before God, because God is love.  If you love someone, that is enough, regardless of their sexuality.  As a nation, and it is creeping into the church, we have confused love with lust.  Lust is the total debasing nature of sin, which seeks to serve the desires of fallen man.  Paul speaks of this in his epistle to the Roman Church.

      “22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

      26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

      We are still foolish people while we live in this world.  We still need to warn, and to be warned against foolish behavior.  We still need to heed the call of God to repent of sin and seek God’s grace and mercy.  We still need to proclaim the coming judgment of God that sinners turn from their ways and seek God while He may be found.  For, as Jesus warns, there is a time that is coming when God will reveal Himself in all His glory.  Doubt will be replaced with certainty.  Rejection will be replaced with acknowledgement.  Discipline will be replaced with eternal judgment.  The unrighteous who lived apart from God in this world will live apart from God in the anguish of hell.

      It has been given to you to know the Way of Life.  God in His mercy called you through His Word to be His child and heir of eternal life.  He washed you in the Water of Baptism to set you apart for His Kingdom.  He gave you a full measure of His Spirit that your ears would hear and your eyes would see the wonders of His grace and mercy.  He irrigated your ears and removed the hardened wax of unbelief.  He washed your eyes and removed the cataracts of sinful blindness.  God marked your heart and mind with the name of His Son to set you apart from the world, and to make you His possession and heir.

      St Peter writes these words of encouragement in his first epistle.

      “9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10] Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11] Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12] Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

      We are truly blessed of God to know Him in His judgment and grace.  We are chosen of God for the purpose of salvation and proclaiming that salvation.  As God’s concern for us is merciful, so our concern for our neighbor is also merciful.  We proclaim God’s Word in mercy not in judgment.  We faithfully warn against sin with our voices and live against sin in righteous lives.  Our goal is God’s goal, that sinners be brought to repentance and faith, that God’s Kingdom is enlarged, and the faithful are gathered to stand before God throne in eternity.

God keep us in truth faith for that day.  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.