Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — A  Strange and Scandalous Grace

Proper 10 LSB A
Sermon Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
July 13, 2014


Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN!  Our text for this morning’s (evening’s) sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the 13thchapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

The Way of Salvation is not the Way of Success

Steadfast Sermons GraphicIt is a strange and scandalous thing the grace of our God.  Strange because it is contrary to the ways of men, scandalous because it does not seem to work.  For the ways of men are bound to reason.  There is a way that seems right to a man.  And there is a way that man measures what seems right.  Whatever is right is also good.  And whatever is good is also right.  Whatever is right and good will work.  Therefore what seems right to man is whatever is practical, it works, it does what it was sent out to do, it accomplishes the task. In other words, it is successful.

Yes, beloved it is a strange and scandalous thing the grace of our God.  For Jesus goes about the earth speaking His Word and calling the weary to find their rest in Him and Him alone.  Jesus goes this way and that speaking to great crowds and holding little children in His lap.  He uses no extravagant methods.  He wields no sword.  He merely speaks.  He speaks here and He speaks there.  He speaks in the open places, on the mount and on the plain.  He speaks in the house and from the sea.  He has come to speak. His speaking is good and His speaking is right.  But for some His speaking isn’t practical and therefore worthy of criticism.  His speaking does not always “work” what is expected.  It doesn’t always “do” what seems right to a man.  His Word seems to fail in its task and in many respects, by the ways and means of man, Jesus is unsuccessful.  Where are the great crowds!  Why isn’t the whole world going after Him?  What change has been accomplished?  Whose lives are different?  The world is much the same. There is no difference.  Is Jesus really any different than those who have come before Him?  Indeed, it is a strange and scandalous thing the grace of our God.

The Parable of a Liberal Sower (Three Soils to Failure)

Because it is so strange and scandalous Jesus sets before us a parable:  The parable of the Sower.  Like Jesus going about preaching here and preaching there, the sower sows seed.  He is quite liberal in this regard, quite gracious to sow valuable seed along the path, on rocky soil, amongst the thorns and thistles of this world.  He sows here and he sows there. He casts seed to the right and to the left making no distinction.  His only joy is to plant the seed and await its harvest, for there will be a harvest.  He does not sow in vain.  To some, his liberality is folly, unwise, even uncalled for. Three out of the four types of soil produce no fruit.  Three out of the four result in wasted seed, wasted resources, wasted time.

Man looks for results.  Man desires success.  And so do you.  You have heard the Savior’s parable and its meaning.  You know the parable is about you.  The Savior has cast the seed of His word and planted it home in your heart.  What sort of seedbed has he found?

Are you trampled down like the path, sinned against, hurt and harmed by those who would snatch God’s Word away?  Without God’s word there is no salvation.  Repent and receive the Word of the Lord.

What is the depth of your faith?  Has it be refined by the fires of persecution, suffering, angst?  Or are you concerned only with the trivial things of the faith, the surface things, the things that feel good and bubbly and happy and trite.  Shallow faith will not survive the burdens of the cross of Christ.  Shallow faith will die.  Repent.  Open your ears and take advantage of every opportunity God has given you to study, grow and mature in His Word.  To do otherwise is to remain on the surface and to remain on the surface to be tossed about by every wind and wave that comes along.  To remain on the surface without being anchored by God’s Word, without the blessings of a deep and rich and mature faith is to suffer a fate worse than death itself; despair.

Or, are you distracted by the worries of this life?  There is a way that seems right to a man, and the way that seems right feels right.  The way that feels right sets hearts at ease, at least for a moment.  This is the heart’s true desire, to be set at ease through its own efforts, to be successful and happy and surrounded by the comforts of the world.  The way that feels right makes one feel like a god!  It is most certainly idolatry and it infects each and every one of us.  Repent!  For the way that seems right to a man, the way that seems right to you, leads to death.  All three of these types of soil in the heart lead to death for all three neglect the Word and covet success, fame.  All three desire to be god-like.

One is Planted in the Earth through Weakness

But what is God like?  We all have thoughts on this matter. We all have our own ideas and these ideas often manifest themselves in unbiblical piety, impious devotions and often blatant immorality.  What is God like? To learn the answer must lift our heads from our belly-buttons, allow the Spirit to open our ears and listen to the Bible’s Words for us this morning. The sower is amongst us this morning.  He is here for you, for each of you, here to speak a word for you that you may learn of His heart, His ways and His means for your salvation, that you may be transformed by the power that enables Him to subdue all things under His feet.

Casting His Word your way the savior shows you His hands and His side.  He is no ordinary god.  He not bound to the ways of men, but He has suffered the ways of men and subdued them through His own suffering, death, and resurrection.  Through His humiliation He humbles the mighty enduring their scorn and triumphing over them in His flesh.  Through His suffering He uplifts the downtrodden having joined Himself to sinners that all may hide under the cover of His wounds.  His weakness appears to be failure and is mocked by the world.  But here, here beloved, the strange and scandalous grace of our God is outpoured.  He sheds His blood.  He suffers for sin. He dies and is buried.  Like a grain of wheat He is planted in the earth, like a seed He is cast aside by the rulers of this world.  Risen from the dead Jesus is the first-fruits from the grave.  More are to follow!  The harvest is yet to come.

The Parable of  a Liberal Sower (Seed Sown in your Heart)

It is His humiliating weakness that is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first and then the gentile, therefore also for you. Jesus’ apparent failure means eternal success according to the grace of our God.  Therefore the call goes out. “Whoever would be my disciple let him take up his cross and follow after me.”  To be god-like is to be like Jesus.  To be like Jesus is to be crucified to the world and the world to self.  This does not happen on some supra spiritual plane.  This does work in your heart via the ways that seem right to a man.  This does not involve methods or strategies.  It is nothing other than the sower sowing the seed of His Word in your ears to plant it home in your heart.  There is no soil that cannot be cultivated.  There is no heart that cannot be converted.  The Savior makes no distinction.  He favors none above the other. He who redeemed the whole World with His blood, purchased and won each and every heart with his death and resurrection, He would save all men, He would save you.

Therefore He casts His Word your way this morning.  He speaks here and He speaks there.  With His Word comes His heart. With His heart He forgives your sins no matter the condition of your heart, so long has you do not harden your heart as the Israelites did in the day of Midian.  He will not force Himself upon you, that is not the way of love.  His is a strange and scandalous sort of love, a strange and scandalous grace.  He cultivates and He converts.  He plants home His grace and love as He speaks here and there and everywhere.  His desire is to save all.  He desires to save you.

Ears that Hear and lives that bear fruit in the midst of great temptation

Therefore beloved, let him who has ears to hear, hear!  Open your ears and therefore also your heart.  The Savior’s salvation is freely given to those who repent and believe on His name.  We are saved by grace through faith and not by works lest any many should boast.  Our boasting is in the cross of Christ, the shameful humiliation of our God who out of great love for us took sin, death and hell into Himself in order to set us free for a life of good works.  Though we are saved by grace through faith and not by works, it is not that we should do no works.  Faith without works is dead.  The branch that bears no fruit is cut off.  The soil that does not produce a harvest is lost.  Christians are called to live a life of good works.  For this also is Christ-like.  Bearing the cross and following Jesus is not accomplished by faith alone.  Faith alone saves us, but faith is never alone. Faith desires to please its object and therefore manifests its new born will, expressing itself in love.  Faith in Jesus leads to love for one’s neighbor. When love wanes, when the harvest is less than bountiful, there is then a faith problem.  We are all afflicted with such problems.   The devil constantly wills our demise.  The cares of this world impose upon us. Enemies of our faith hurt and harm us.  Even our own bodies fail us.  Faith, therefore must be continually nourished in order to be continually active in love.  Christian hearts must return to the source of their salvation, the sower of God’s seed.  Thus we Christians are called back to Christ, to heed His Word in His divine Service, to receive with open ears and to marvel at the strange and scandalous grace of our God.  His Word will not return void but will accomplish that for which He sent it out.  God has promised as much. And this promise is as much for you and your children as it is for anyone else.  Believe it.  Confess it.  Share it.  The harvest is great and the laborers are few.  Thanks be to God.   AMEN!


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep you heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus.  AMEN!

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