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Sermon Notes for 5th Sunday after Epiphany, 5 February 2017 Anno Domini

Sermon Notes for 5th Sunday after Epiphany, 5 February 2017 Anno Domini

(taken from a sermon preached at St. Andrews six years ago)

 

24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?28  He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”  (Matt 13:24-30)

“36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt 13:36-43)

There are but three sources of words spoken from the beginning – Those of God, those spoken by man, and those spoken by the Devil. Those Words of God are altogether words of righteousness.  

Those words spoken by men are of a mixture of righteousness and wickedness. Those words spoken by the Devil are altogether wicked words. The words of men may be righteous insofar as they reflect the Words of God, but more often human words reflect the words of that old Serpent of the Garden at Eden. Weeds grow in wild and uncultivated fields, and these are the choice fields of Satan; however, that old devil loves most the planting of his seeds of discontent in the good soil among the Seed of promise. It is in this soil that they gain the greatest attention and regard. He fashions his words to bear a subtle resemblance to those of God but, in reality, they conjure up the opposite emotions and foster murderous intentions. They may so resemble, yet contradict the true Word, that their progeny may be almost indistinguishable from the true. The Word of God is all-powerful, and those of Satan possessed of great and evil influences, but the word of man is most often empty and impotent to achieve good. As Pope has said: “Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.” Today’s text continues the narrative on Seed and seeds.

 

Today’s text is divided into two parts. The first presents us with the Parable of the Good Seed (Word) sown in the Sower’s field. The second part provides an explanation for the first part.

 

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.” The field is the Sowers field. There is one that is a usurper and trespasser and who sows in fields that are not his rightful ownership, but the Good Man of this Parable sows in His own Field. Who is the Sower and what does this field represent? “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world.” God owns the Universe and every galaxy of suns therein, and the earth is His and all who live there upon. There truly are no fields but those which belong to the Lord. Wherever Satan sows, he is an intruder on stolen property. Many of the hearts of men are stolen property – taken by the wiles of the devil for his own from the Gentle Hand that made man. God knows His own from before the foundation of the world, but Satan is happy to take the dross. “The soil corresponds to the human heart, the seed to the divine element in the sowing. Now it is in the seed that the whole mystery of life on earth is enwrapped. This mystery modern science has intensified far beyond what men in the age of the parables could have imagined. We now know that the actually living part of such seeds is wonderfully smaller, and in fact, at first is to the unaided eye invisibly hid in the mass of apparent seed, for this consist mainly of a store of food for the true seed within when it shall begin to grow. It is, therefore, at a seed that all attempt materialistic explanations of life find themselves baffled. Every living thing, be it an oak or a whale, has to begin its individual existence as a unicellular organism, a microscopic speck. To the biologist, therefore, it is a much greater thing when it exists as a vanishing-point of matter, than when it has attained to the vast bulk of mature development, for by that time it has outgrown and spent many of the potencies which were in it at the beginning. In that small beginning not only every after-development is already determined to finality, but it also contained the stored-up inheritance of untold generations.” (Dr. W.H. Thomson, Parables and Their Home)

 

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” There is no negligence here in the fact that men slept, for they must. The one (Devil)  who came in darkness, which is his natural time, and sowed tares among the wheat is not only the enemy of the Sower but also of the wheat (fruit of the good Seed). “

 

But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?” These tares appear right in the midst of the people of God – not where one would expect them. The servants of the householder (God’s ministers) are surprised to see these wicked among the righteous in the Church. Remember those fowl that stole away the Seed by the way side? These are those wicked fowl among the branches of the Church. We shall address this more in the Parable of the Mustard Tree. “He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?” To open or close the door of the Ark of Salvation is the sole prerogative of the Lord. It may seem proper on the part of those charged with the oversight to dismiss completely those whose character falls short of that of a true Christian, but man cannot judge the heart. When there are those in our midst whose living seems far from that expected,  we cannot boot them from the church short of grievous and public sin. “But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”  As we have read in Revelations 20:9-10 how the Camp of the Saints was compassed about by the legions of the Devil, and God rained fire down from heaven on them and they were cast into the Lake of Fire. After this, comes the White Throne Judgment. So the tares will be taken up by the angels of God first and burned, then shall the harvest of wheat be gathered.

 

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” Those who love God’s Word more than others are privileged to receive it more directly. Christ sends the multitude away and resorts to the house where His disciples inquire of the meaning of this last Parable. The best place to be is always alone with Christ and away from the multitude, or “Far from the Madding Crowd!”

 

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” No better explanation of the Parable than this that Jesus gives is possible. Let me make one point about the tares in any man’s field. My wife, who is a dedicated gardener, told me during our morning walk how important it was not to simply pull the weeds out from the soil of the garden, but the roots must be removed as well else those same weeds will grow again in the next season. This is true of personal sins as well. Not only must the consummating act be eliminated, but the sinful urge that motivates the sin, too. We are incapable of that elimination, but there is One on whom we can call to take away that motivating urge. If we allow our hearts to be so greatly filled with the Good Seed of God, there will be no space found for the tares to be planted.

 

Truly, the tares appear much like the good until they are ready to produce fruit. The tares are the children of the wicked one, who are filled with his Spirit, live according to his principles, and are under his control. They are not a degenerate form of virtue, but as distinct as virtue and vice. They often resemble the good till the fruit begins to appear, but they are as different as wheat and tares, as thistles and roses.

 

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” To the horror and dismay of those limp-wristed moderns who deny that Christ will ever treat sinners with harshness, Christ will have all who work iniquity gathered and burned at the Last Day. It is likely that these wonders of limp-wristed theology shall populate the same fires. Do you hear and read the words of Christ? “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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