A sermon/reflection for The Fifth Sunday after Trinity
The readings for this Sunday are those of Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday:
Psalm 65.(1-8), 913
Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23
You might like to use the link below to find the above readings for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, Year A, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use:
Collect of the day
Let us just spend a few moments in silence to centre ourselves, to gather ourselves in our souls, to come before the Lord just as we are with our joys and sorrows, our hopes and our fears, our loves and our pains. Let us just focus our minds and hearts on Jesus who is the answer for every problem.
The protector and Father of all who trust in you,
without you O God, nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase in us our desire for you,
we need your love and your mercy;
be our guide in our lives
that as we live on earth
we may fix our eyes on Heaven and Eternal life.
Grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
and in His Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Prayer before the Sermon
Loving Heavenly Father,
we thank you for the words you have given us today.
We know they are words of life and salvation.
Open our hearts Father,
touch our souls,
forgive us our sins especially our lack of faith,
help us to respond to your word.
May we know that you are our Lord and Saviour
who promises us the power from on high,
your Holy Spirit.
May we experience in our hearts
your love and your presence always.
Sower, Seed, Soil
“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain,
some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Mt 13. 8)
“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Mt 13. 23)
The theme of the word of God today
is that seeds sown on good soil produces good harvest. Jesus is using an exceptionally common symbol of soil and seed to teach us an important spiritual truth. God’s Word is sown in our hearts every time we hear it. But what is the state of our souls? What sort of spiritual soil do we possess? What is this ‘good soil’?
We are used to focusing on the parable itself.
It is important to consider what are parables and why did Jesus use parables.
Parables are short stories with relevant connections to the experience and life of the hearers.
Jesus told the parables in the context of the Kingdom of God or how to understand it. Parables must be understood as teachings on the Kingdom of God.
What is the Kingdom of God?
The Kingdom of God is the sovereign rule of God in the hearts of people and has both a spiritual as well as a social dimension.
On the one hand, the Kingdom of God is established when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, when you repent of your sins and renew your life as a new person, a new people, as Jesus tells Nicodemus: “You must be born again”.
On the other hand, the Kingdom of God has another dimension – it is as much establishing God’s sovereign rule in society, in the world, as in the hearts of people.
Frank Buchman, a great prophetic Christian who founded the ‘Moral Rearmament Movement’, today called ‘Initiatives of Change’, used to say that “if you want to change the world, change yourself first”. In other words, the world is changed from the inside.
You start with yourself first.
That is why the parables are absolutely relevant as they challenge your spiritual integrity as much as your social responsibility.
The sower, seed and the soil
In today’s parable of the sower, the seed and the soil, we have a classic Kingdom parable. The parable is as much addressed to us as it was to his Jewish hearers.
We are familiar with the story, one of the stories we have learned from Sunday school. The sower sows the seed and some seeds fall on the roadside, some on the rocks, others on brambles, thistles and thorns and some on good soil. Those sown on the roads are picked up by birds, those on the rocks scorched by the sun, those in the thorns stifled and choked and those in the good soil produce 30, 50 or hundred fold of what was sown.
In other words, the seed of God’s word is offered for all but not all receive it in the same way. That is why, Jesus himself explains the meaning of the parable which is significant.
The seed has to fall into good soil in order to sprout, grow and produce a hundredfold like Jesus says: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains a single grain of wheat, but if it dies it brings forth abundant fruit.” (John 12.24)
Psalm 1 has these beautiful words: “A tree planted by the waterside brings forth its fruit in due season.”
I was very lucky to visit Khartoum several years ago. Although all around is dry desert sand, the vegetation is surprisingly green along the Nile as you approach Khartoum. You see a trail of green and rich vegetation along the mighty river. It is a beautiful and most remarkable view from the window of your plane as you approach Khartoum on a clear day. And all sorts of plants and trees grow along it banks because the soil is good and rich. You marvel what good soil can do even in the middle of a hot and arid desert.
You must have probably heard of the incredible story of how archaeologists found a seed in a pyramid in Egypt that was 5000 years old. Someone took this seed and placed it good soil and in no take the seed burst forth and sprout and grew in to a young plant, after remaining closed in a pyramid for 5000 years! Good seed! Good soil!
The parable of sower and the seed puts us on the spot. If the Word of God is to bear fruit in our lives, we have to check if we possess good soil in our hearts.
Jesus says in John 15.4, 8: “If you abide in me, you will bear much fruit”; “If you abide in me and my words abide in you ask whatever you will and you shall get it.”
God’s word is a seed that brings forth life
The seed of the Word of God bursts forth in our lives and in our hearts if we only let it. It is possible that the word that we keep hearing day after day, Sunday after Sunday, is there in our souls but hasn’t sprouted or become alive. It is like that seed in the pyramid. It needs to be placed in good soil. We often are so cluttered and messed up spiritually and emotionally that the seed of God’s word simply fail to sprout and bear life.
We are proud of our culture of gardening in England and the UK. (cf. open Gardens, Gourmet Gardens etc. in Summer in most of our villages and countryside)
In fact, if we tend the soil of our souls as much as we do the soil in our gardens we would be so much more fertile spiritually, socially, emotionally and mentally.
What to do? We must do some spiritual gardening!
First of all, we must know that God loves us and has created us to know him and love him personally. We must know that the answer for most problems in our lives is committed and total faith in Jesus Christ which will give us a new vision and a new integrity in our lives.
Secondly, we must know that there is a lot of weed in our soul garden, which prevent us from knowing God’s love. We must know that no matter what we have done, God’s love and forgiveness is greater than our sins, that he forgives us our sins and invites us to know him and love him. That relationship with Jesus Christ is what makes life tick for us!
Thirdly, we must commit ourselves to Jesus Christ and accept him decisively as Lord and Saviour. This type of language sounds a bit ‘holy, holy and cranky’ but actually that is exactly what we have to do in our lives so often pulled as we are in so many directions!
We have different opportunities in the Springline Parish to help you to nourish good soil in your souls – Alpha Courses, Following Jesus Course, Prayer Group, Bible Study Group, Lent and Advent study groups and so on.
So the parable is all about the Kingdom of God, how the Kingdom of God grows in you, how you acquire a biblical mind and heart, a Christian mind and heart, so that you can bear fruit in your life as a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is a great teacher; he uses signs and symbols and realities around people. But it’s all to teach us to have a Kingdom mindset.
The Kingdom mindset is based on and functions from acquiring the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, a heart for God and his people.
The Kingdom mindset is committed not just to personal spirituality but also to social transformation and renewal and conversion of society.
The establishment of the Kingdom of God actually comes down to this one question: Have you given your heart to Jesus Christ? Do you believe in him and trust him with your life? The hundredfold produce and the Kingdom of God happens when you do that!
Let us prayerfully read those words of Jesus again: “But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Mt 13.23)
Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God.
Thank you for becoming one of us.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.
Thank you for rising from the dead to give me hope
and the gift of eternal life.
I repent of my sins and invite you into heart and life
as my Lord and Saviour.
Please grant me your Holy Spirit
so that I may know you, love you
and follow you every day of my life.