The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

6th Sunday after Pentecost                                                                                          July 16, 2017

 

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23                       I've Got Ears!  Let Me Hear!

 

Dear fellow redeemed: Surely, it goes without saying.  "He who has ears, let him hear." 

*         Are you a sinner in need of forgiveness? Are you human with a human set of ears?

            You've got to hear this! 

*         But is hearing always a sure thing?  

            When we were kids, my brother Klemet used to tell a really silly joke.

*         A father is at the hospital anxiously waiting for his wife to deliver their first child.

            Finally, the doctor comes to the room were the gentleman is seated.

*         He says to the father, "Sir, I'm afraid I have some alarming news.

            Your baby is healthy and all, but he's not normal.  He's nothing more than an ear!"

*         Well, the father is panic-stricken, immediately crying out, "Oh no! What could be worse?!"

            To which the doctor responds, "he's deaf!" 

*         If jokes had a moral, I suppose the moral of this joke would be: be thankful for who you are.

            And be even more thankful that you can hear.

 

We may consider it just as silly: being born with no ear or ability to hear or receive any communication.

*         So why does Jesus declare what he does in today's text: "he who has hears, let him hear"?
            People are not typically born without ears.  Is he joking?

*         No.  The point is to impress upon his hearers how thankful they may be to hear God's Word

            and the most wonderful message on earth: forgiveness of sins through your only Savior.

*         We may react to the matter this way: "I've got ears!  Let me hear!"

            "Let me hear God's Word and receive from it the blessings my Lord intends for me!

*         Unfortunately, many people react very differently to God's Word.

            And it clearly affects their ability to hear and benefit from God's Word. 

*         Let's spend the next few minutes discussing who this may be, and then speak of the kind of

            worshiper who does get something out of God's Word.

*         Keep in mind from this morning's parable, that the seed represents God's Word and the soil

            on which the seed falls represents hearer's heart and one's desire to hear God's Word.

 

The first type of worshiper we may cite is the "church hopper."

He bounces from one church to the next because he's never quite satisfied.

*         And yet, he supposedly knows better than anyone what makes the perfect church.

It's friendly, has the right programs, good music, a dynamic preacher.

*         Unfortunately, while these may all be fine attributes, the church hopper, never finds what

            he's looking for.  In what seems like an endless cycle, he simply quits one church and

            joins another.

*         This first worshiper Jesus describes saying: "A sower went out to sow. 

            And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them."

*         Because he prefers that others listen rather than to listen himself, the Word never has a

            chance to go to work.  It may reach his ear, but it's soon snatched away.

 

A second type of worshiper getting little from the service may be named: "The Touchy Feely" type.

*         He knows what the perfect feelings are all about, and so he comes seeking an emotional experience.

            Unfortunately, even if he acquires it, it cannot be maintained.

*          One day he feels good about himself.  The next day he's reminded of what his life is really about.

            He's getting older, sicker, more vulnerable to all sorts of ailments.

          Or someone belittles him for is beliefs and he feels like an idiot. 

*         In any case, he gets back to the real world and his wonderful feelings dwindle and dissolve. 

            And since he never remains satisfied with what he's feeling, he often stops coming to church.

*         This second worshiper Jesus describes saying: "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, but

            when the sun rose they were scorched.  And since they had no root, they withered away."

*         Because he is not feeling good about being a Christian, he figures the Word has lost its power

            or relevance.  So, why bother listening?

 

A third type who gains little or nothing from the service is the: "It's time to show my face" worshiper.

*         He comes out of obligation, which may happen to be the holidays or when circumstances

            require his attendance, such as going to a funeral.  He's big on being with the ingroup. 

          Even if only for one or two days of the year, he can tell everyone: see I'm just like you!

*         This third worshiper Jesus describes saying: "Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns

            grew up and choked them." The thorns represent the cares and riches of the world which

            often choke faith.

*         A few other types of worshipers are the: "The Holier Than Thou", the "Smarter Than Thou",

            "The Going Through the Motions" worshipers.

*         Suffice it to say: Because they're "superior" to other Christians with their holy behavior or

            knowledge, they don't need to hear the Word, certainly not the Law. 

             "The pastor can do his preaching at someone else!  I can stand on my own two feet!"

*         Yes, they'll listen to God's Word, but they're simply setting an example for those who really need it.

 

So, what about you?  Do you need God's Word?  Maybe you're not feeling so superior? 

*         If not, let me tell you about a fifth kind of worshiper: The Receptive Worshiper.               

*         He comes to church regularly to hear both the Law and the Gospel; to confess his sin,

            receive forgiveness for his sin, and strengthening in his faith.  Although he may not care

            to hear the Law, he realizes the truth about his sin prepares him for the Gospel.

*         And that's when his appetite for hearing changes quite drastically. 

             "I've got ears!  Let me hear!" he exclaims. 

             "Let me hear the good news concerning Jesus Christ who's taken my sin away!"

*         Jesus concludes his parable stating that: "Other seeds fell on good soil and produced

            grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear."

*         You want to hear?  Listen up! 

            Christ's Word will make you rich in faith and abundant in Christian works! 

 

Well, I'm sure it's our best intention to be a receptive worshiper. 

*         We truly want to hear.  We want to hear one more time that: "as far as the east is from

            the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). 

*         However, in as much as every believer is a sinner, we slip on occasion, becoming one of

            those worshipers we listed above. 

            We don't want to hear about our sin.  We want to hear about someone else's sin. 

*         We don't want to hear the same old talk about the world's sin being taken away.

            We want the preacher to stroke our ego, inflate our sappy feelings, tell us what good

            Christians we've been.

*         All we can do at such times is return in humility to God's house, confess our sin and

            by faith receive our Savior's absolution. 

 

Then again, sometimes we have just as much difficulty concentrating on the Gospel,

as we previously had concentrating on the Law.

*         We're thinking back to our strained marriage, or our weak role parenting. 

            We recall our promises to spend more time with a certain loved one or friend, be more

            encouraging, assume a given responsibility, be more in tuned with what's going on in

            this person's life.

*         But we've fallen short, and we're not feeling especially forgiven right now.

*         "No. I don't have to worry about the pastor preaching at me.

            I'm not sure God's Word ever was meant for me.

            Heaven knows I don't deserve hearing anything positive right now!"

 

Are you feeling the Gospel has passed you up, that you're no longer entitled to hear the Lord's

sweet and soothing voice?

*         It's not a question whether the seed misses us; perhaps the wind has blown it to that other field.

            The question is in what kind of soil do we reside? 

*         Is it a flattened down path where the seed, the Gospel, is never able to penetrate the heart? 

            Is our soil rocky, thorn-infested, useless for growing anything? 

*        It's not time to give up on God's Word. 

            But it may be time to give up your seat, and find a seat in the good soil. 

*         I've joked with some of you, asking, "what's worse for a preacher than spotting someone

            with his eyes closed?"  It's spotting someone with his eyes open, but he's looking straight

            ahead when the pulpit is over to his right.

*         There are times to be sure, when the preacher is tempted to yell out, "Hey you! 

            I'm over here!" 

*         If you'd rather not be caught sleeping or with your eyes wide open and looking straight ahead,

            I may have some advice for you.

*         Sit right here (front pew).  In the one case, you wouldn't dare fall asleep.

            In the other case, even if you're on some other planet, so long as you're looking in his direction,

            the preacher will never know the difference.

 

Seriously, to hear God's Word better, sometimes we need a change in environment.

We need to move to some different terrain.

*         In the worst-case scenario: if you're ever in a congregation where you're not hearing the

            Gospel in its truth and purity, you may transfer to a congregation where you do.

*         In other instances, it may simply be a matter of navigating needed changes in your life or

            your Sunday morning, so that you can better concentrate on God's Word. 

*         You do so, and you needn't worry about the seed missing you or not working in your case. 

            Listen again to our text and how Jesus ends his parable.

*         "He who has ears, let him hear."  Really?!  Don't we all have ears?

            Yes, which is why each one of us may assume Christ is speaking to us.

             "Let him hear" means "I'm talking to you!"

  1      Are you doubting whether my words are intended for you? Jesus asks.

           If you've heard my word about your sin, you may hear my word about your Savior.

  2      Are you not feeling completely forgiven today? 

           Be assured that you don't need to feel forgiven to know you're forgiven.  

            I've done whatever feeling is necessary for you, feeling the entire weight of your sin on the cross.

  3      Do you need some help serving those you love, better managing your time, being more in tune,

            more responsible, more encouraging?

*         Know that you receive all the help you need by recognizing me as your servant.

            "For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many"

             (Mark 10:45).

 

If you have ears, you may furthermore assume that Christ's words are not only intended for you

but will bear fruit in you.

*         Recall the words in Isaiah: "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and

            do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed

            to the sower and bread to the eater, 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."

*         Be certain of this, the Lord is saying, if the Word shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it,

            that means you are sure to benefit from my Word.

*          You reside in the rich soil, after all!  When you hear that Christ atoned for your sins; that

            you're a child of God and a fellow heir with Christ and that he'll produce in you a faith that
            will sustain you as God's child and heir, you may know his Word will not return to him empty.

            His Word will work faith in you, causing you to bear fruit as a believer, be it times thirty,

            times sixty, or even a hundredfold.

 

It shouldn't happen in the good soil.  People fear that they're not producing any fruit.

*          A friend in college once told me a very sad story. 

            He was planning on attending the seminary and entering the ministry.

*         But his father then told him of his experience as a preacher.

            After he served so many years in the ministry, he felt he was simply repeating himself.

*         Year after year as he preached on the same texts, he was convinced people were no longer

            benefitting from his messages. And this convinced my friend to abandon his goal of

            becoming a pastor himself.

 

Have you felt you're getting nothing out of the sermon?

*          In some cases, it's not because the preacher and his preparations are deficient. 

            It's because the person's hearing is deficient. 

*         However, you need not have such fears, for it's God's Word you're hearing.

            Simply ask yourself a very basic question: Who are you and why are you here?

*         The answer is: You're a sinner, but you have two ears that are very operational.

            And that means you get to hear the most wonderful message that may possibly reach your ears.

*         No. I'm not joking and there's nothing silly about it.

            Have you ears?  I have!

*         And so, it goes without saying: "Let me hear of my Savior who bore the cross for me!

            Let me hear I'm receiving Christ's body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins! 

*         Let me hear that I don't have to have the perfect church or the perfect feelings, or be just like

            everyone else to receive what I need from Christ for life everlasting." 

*         Have you ears? So, do I!

            It's time to ourselves! "He who has ears, let him hear."  Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.