20. February 2022
“To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’”
In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.
Apart from the loss of life and property, there’s nothing we fear more than the loss of speech. Words create and build friendships. Words are needed for community and fellowship. Words are essential to business and trade. Words provide encouragement and support. Words apply discipline and correction. When we cannot speak freely, we cannot live.
We inherently know that words are powerful and do something. That’s why we also restrain bad speech and bite our tongue. Words can destroy reputations and livelihood. Words can ruin relationships and community. Words can break the bonds of marriage and congregation. Words can insult, hate, and destroy. So, watch the words you speak and guard the door of your lips.
Because we know that words work it is also a demonic tool of manipulation and control. We redefine words to avoid the reality that they create. We prevent others from speaking the truth because we are in denial. We promote lies as truth and truth as lies. Dictionary entries are corrected to match the use by a politician or celebrity. We categorize speech as mis-, dis-, and malinformation, but ironically according to whoever is seeking to terrorize others. As language is distorted and massaged into new shapes, the reality is being changed—often against the truth and against your will.
This is demonic abuse of the gift of language. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time. “Did God really say?” At Babel, they had one language and nothing they proposed to do would be kept from them. The Book of Moses was lost in the temple and the people lived according to their own passions and lusts. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Over and over, we and all those seeking power and control, have used words to bring about that which we want. We have an insatiable desire to control, manipulate, rule, and enslave.
We only use words because God uses words to work. God acts through His Word. He did that first in the creation of the world. He spoke and it was so. He commanded and it was done. And He continues to govern by His Word. When God sends forth His word, it has not only a message to proclaim, but it has a responsibility to fulfill. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return until they have watered the earth and made it bring forth fruit, “So shall my word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in die thing for which I sent it.” (Is 55:10ff)
That which is different about God’s word, as over against all human words, is its authority. God’s Word does what it says. And He often gives others to speak with His authority, so He acted also through the prophetic word. He sent his word forth in the mouths of the holy prophets to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:10) It is written that the Lord “has sent a word against Jacob” and that, “it will light upon Israel.” (Isaiah 9:8) When God speaks, His purpose and motive is clear. He tears down whatever is getting in the way of faith in Him. He builds and plants trust in Him which receives forgiveness in Jesus.
God’s speaking, the Bible, is not simply a collection of teachings or a storybook for children. It is God who speaks to you. Even with regard to things that happened and were spoken centuries ago it is written for your sake. It has been written for your instruction. The Bible is given to us as God meant it to be, in order that through this Word He may speak to all nations and to all generations. He has caused His Word to be recorded and go into the world to do His work. What does He purpose to do with the Word?
The Bible defines the task which God is seeking to fulfill as “teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.” God sends his Word against our hearts as a fire, and like a hammer, that crushes the rock. It is living, and active, sharper than a two-edged sword. But when it strikes a broken heart, then the Word is spirit and life. It heals and regenerates, and it is the power of God unto salvation. And if you will be led, it will be a light unto your feet and a lamp upon your pathway.
The Word confronts us with many questions. The Bible itself states that in the letters of Paul there are some things that are hard to understand. But God can accomplish that work in us that He has set out to complete. We listen and say: “Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears.” Christ, Himself can do as he did on the way to Emmaus when He “interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” So, what about the parable of the Sower? How are we to understand this text?
“To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’” The phrase, “the mysteries of the kingdom of God,” is key. Jesus is speaking about His church, which is called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified by the Gospel. The Word that is given for all to hear but that not all will receive is this: the love of God known in Jesus Christ the crucified. It is a gift passively received, believed, and kept entirely by God’s doing, for all.
The Gospel does not work irresistibly. Christians and non-Christians alike mostly agree on the eternal truth of the Law as expressed in the Ten Commandments. At least the second table can be found on courthouses, in other cultures, and in legal textbooks. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified is the Word that divides and separates. It is given to all but not all will receive it. One can despise the Gospel and cast it aside. But even then it is at work. It hardens and brings judgment. His Word does what it says, whether we want it or believe it.
This Word works with God’s intent and motive. He does not desire the death of the unbeliever, but that they repent and live. Jesus never stops sowing His sweet Word of forgiveness on those who are in the figurative ditches, rocks, thorns, or good soil. He made them all and He desires to save you all. That’s His good and gracious will. God knows you will receive His Son Jesus in faith, repent and return to Him, and trust in Him for everything needed life now and into eternity. And God the Father, Son, and Spirit is working repentance and faith by His Word even now for you.
A new creation is being built today in your hearing, in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, and nothing and nobody can stop it. That’s the power of God Almighty. That’s the power Jesus commands. That’s the power of the Gospel that inspires and enlightens, strengthens and encourages, and gives you true faith and hope. What’s the worst that can happen to you? Does the world kill you? Jesus has overcome the world. He will simply raise you from the dead. That’s the power of God. That’s the power Jesus commands. That’s the power of the Gospel, giving faith, hope, love, and a future. AMEN.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin