This week we will see two parallel themes. First, rejection of both Christ and of John the Baptist; then expansion – of Christ’s ministry by delegating his authority to his disciples.
We understand that you have called us to lives of ministry, lives of service, here in this world. Though our gifts may differ, our responsibility is much the same. We need to live completely for you.
We also understand that we will continue to learn as we serve. You do not require our training to be complete before you use us, but rather we expect you to train us as we begin to be used.
At the same time we need to count the cost.
Jesus was rejected repeatedly in his hometown of Nazareth. People knew him, but allowed their familiarity to get in the way of seeing who he really was.
John the Baptist angered selfish rulers who engaged in immoral behavior. It eventually cost him his life. We can expect the same kind of rejection as we seek to serve you.
We confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is worthy of our worship and worthy of our most complete loyalty and commitment.
We pray that you would fill us with the confidence we need to be open about our faith.
We pray also for patience and perseverance in the task of sowing the word.
We pray that over time our lives would bear fruit as you intend. Let us be that good soil in which your word produces fruit, thirty, sixty and one hundredfold what we are given.
We look to you as the one who can make that happen in our lives, and we know full well it is not something that we can accomplish in and of ourselves.
The primary Parable of the Sower (as Jesus calls it in Matthew 13:18) is recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. This other one, also called the Parable of the Growing Seed, is only in Mark. I like to think of it as a further elaboration on the sower’s seed sown on good ground, which “yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:8).
26 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28 For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The job of sowing and harvesting, of spreading the word of God and eventually seeing the fruit of it, is a wiggly business. We have to “preach the word,” as Paul says (2 Tim 4:2). But in doing so, we cannot look for immediate results. In fact, it is hard to see the relationship between our work and its results at all. We “sleep by night and rise by day” and in the meantime something happens. We don’t know how, but growth comes naturally. As Jesus says, “the earth yields crops ‘by itself.'”
That last expression “by itself” is interesting. The dictionary form of the original word is automatos, which is kind of like automatic. It reminds me of an automat, the old vending machine, restaurant-like thingy, where the food just sat there waiting for someone to buy it. (Yes, I was a fan, but do not know of one anywhere in Indianapolis where I live. Not sure if they even exist at all in the USA anymore. Alas.)
Christ’s point, however, is important. Proclaiming the word of God, whether it is evangelism, teaching, a weekly Sunday service, or a private conversation, will yield results. Somehow, at some point. This happens without our looking at it constantly and trying to measure the growth.
Let this be an encouragement for all of us “sowers.” I want to see immediate results as much as the next guy, I suppose. Normally I don’t see any. You may not see quick returns on your word-sharing investment either. But don’t quit. Don’t give up. Quick returns are not what we signed up for. We signed up for continuous, consistent sowing and eventual reaping, when the time is right. That might not be when or where we we are looking for it, but it comes.
We see Jesus having to endure being misunderstood by his family and accused of being evil by the religious leaders of his day.
We do not want to make those mistakes. We realize that if we reject Jesus, then there is no payment available for our sins against you.
Our relationship with you, through Christ, is and always needs to be the most important relationship in our lives.
It makes us your family and gives us the truest family we will ever have – the family of God.
Help us to be obedient and willing to do your will. Help us to respond well to whatever calling you place upon our lives.
And help us to see Jesus as Lord, the one who truly deserves our worship and complete obedience.
We understand that when Jesus came as a sinless Savior entering a sinful world, all of history changed. We benefit from his example and incomparable service to us.
Help us to appreciate how much he identifies with us by enduring temptations, caring for our needs and ultimately dying so that we might receive eternal life.
Help us to be willing to serve him as our God and Savior, being willing to leave anything and everything behind that stands in the way of complete devotion to our Lord.
Help us also to be willing to serve him right where we are, if that is your will for us.
Give us supernatural insight so as to always be aware of the spiritual battle that is raging around us. We want to continue to further your kingdom and see your word go out to everyone everywhere.
And help us to be devoted to the proclamation of the gospel message, the message that tells us that Jesus Christ our Lord has come. We need to repent and believe in him.
In Christ’s name we pray,