Isaiah 55:10-11, Romans 8:18-23, Matthew 13:1-23
The Life-Changing Power of the Word of God.
In Hebrew, the term for “word” is dabar. Dabar is used 394 times or more in the Old Testament, expressed as “the word of God” and “the word of the Lord;” through which God communicates to the people.
The world was brought into existence through the word (cf. Gen 1:3, 6, John 1:3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:3). It is the source of life (Psalms 119:25), and a light to our path (Psalms 119:105).
God revealed Himself and His will to His people through the word. Obedience to His word yielded abundant fruit while disobedience to it brings downfall and punishment.
God revealed himself to the patriarchs, judges and prophets through the Word. The readings of today reveal the need to listen to the word and allow it to bear fruit and in turn, explain the reasons the word does not bear fruit in our lives, through the parable Jesus gives us today.
The Word is Like the Rain and Snow.
During the dry and harmattan season when dryness fills the atmosphere and rain goes into extinction, the earth becomes so dry that farmers deem it wise not to go into agricultural produce, until the advent of the rainy season.
The rainy season is like a season of joy, dry grasses become green again, plants begin to germinate and farmers begin to sow seeds.
This type of transformation is used by Isaiah today to liken the word of God. Just as the rain and snow come down for a purpose to bring everything to life again, the word of God cannot but give life and as rain and snow soften the land, the word of God softens every hardened heart. As the word of the Lord makes every seed germinate, the word of God must bear fruit.
We are to obey it because it is not our word but that of the Creator. So, if the Creator is loving, His word is for our good and not to keep us in bondage.
Isaiah 40:8 says that “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever”. The power of the Word of God is not to be underestimated (Ecclesiastes 3:14). God exercises power through his word from the very beginning. God says, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
Therefore, the word of God brings things into being. The bible says that God’s “word is settled in heaven forever” (Psalm 119:89).
So, the essence is that the word of God is life-changing, life creating, ever transforming and powerful. The word of God must bring something new, it must recreate, it must change, it must transform and these depend on the heart that accepts the word and does it.
You can never keep the word of God and remain the same.
The Inherent Power of the Word of God.
In Luke 11:28, Jesus says that those who keep the word are blessed and lucky. In the gospel, Jesus uses a seed and a farmer to illustrate the need to listen to the word of God and keep it.
1. A seed naturally has germinating properties. Any seed that we sow cannot but germinate to bring to life another fruit or tree.
So, for the fact the sower sowed the seeds and the seeds have in their nature the power to germinate, it also means that the word of God in its nature can transform, build, grow, germinate, and change whoever accepts the word with full convincing heart and puts it into practice.
2. In the gospel today, Jesus uses a seed to symbolize the word of God. What we have to know about a seed is that a seed is barely noticeable. It could be small but the small seed can bring forth a powerful tree. Such is the inherent power of the word of God.
A little verse can transform your life. The word of God has the inherent power to create something far greater than itself that will keep on multiplying for ages.
That little seed of the word of God has the power to dramatically transform your life forever, it can transform a family and an entire generation.
The only weapon the apostles used to touch and convert thousands of souls to the extent that the church is now born in almost every entire part of the world is the word of God.
The psalmist says in Psalm 119:105, that the word of God is a lamp to guide our feet and a light to guide our path.
Therefore to choose to walk and work according to the guiding principles of God’s word is already a choice to success, victory, justice, answered prayers, peace and eternal salvation.
It is the surest guide to sainthood. Any family that decides to live according to the word of God is already heaven on earth. Peace will always be their food.
3. Also, in the gospel, the reason the seeds are classified as good is that they do not fall along the paths, rocky or thorny grounds. They are free from birds, thorns and rodents. Therefore, what this means is that to be a good seed, we have to protect ourselves from anything external influences that will steal our faith.
We have to protect ourselves from any external influence that will make us lose faith in God.
Also, we have to protect our relationship and faith in God. We do not allow any social media influencer or any media charlatan to talk us away from God.
Just as you protect something very important to your life, this is the same way we have to protect our relationship with God. If God is very important to your life, then you will make every truthful effort never to lose Him.
Saint Paul asks in Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Then in verse 37, he says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
3. To walk according to the word of God is an assurance of victory. It has that inherent power to lead you through challenges. All you need to do is to affirm the power always.
The only way Christianity has survived for 2000 years is because of the reproductive powers contained in the Word. They underwent the greatest persecution guided by the encouraging words of God’s word.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb 4:12).
4. The word of God is full of power, but we do not pay attention to it or we take it for granted. This is why James advises that we should not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. But to do what it says (James 1:22). The implication is that how we respond to the word of God, indicates how it will remain effective in us.
The Soil Is Very Important.
The parable reveals to us that the soil where the seed falls is very important for the seed to germinate. The seed has the inherent power to change, the problem is the heart that accepts the word of God.
From the reading of today, we can first find out that the problem is not the word of God but the soil where it fell. The main issue is the heart that receives the word.
In essence, we shall cease blaming God for any circumstance but blame ourselves who have remained adamant to the word of God. We have refused to allow the word of God to bear abundant fruit in our lives.
The gospel presents to us different types of soil that the seed fell on. This represents the four categories of hearts that listened to the word. It also reveals four different reactions to the Word of God. They are the hard heart, the shallow heart, the crowded heart, and the fruitful heart.
1. The Seed that fell on the path are those times when we pay deaf ears to the word of God. We do that because we think or believe the word of God is not important.
It could be because we do not understand it or our hearts are very far away from God’s word. Therefore, because of these, the message never gets absorbed before the devil snatches it away from us. Do you always feel empty after listening to God’s word?
2. In the parable also, some seeds fell on the rocky ground. This is like getting excited about the word of God when we hear it. We even make resolutions not to go back to our sinful lives again. We hope to make amends but this resolution does not last. Later, temptations, challenges and problems will come, and we fall and go back to square one.
3. The seeds that fell among thorns are those who always want something so badly. Because of this, they are full of worry and distress.
They hear the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing.
When we worry more than believing always, we are invariably cultivating nothing. Nothing comes from worry. Therefore, Is your faith being choked out by thorns?
4. Then we have Good hearts. These are people who not only listen to the word of God but are willing to keep to it even when it seems challenges and problems do not want to leave their lives, yet they keep to the word.
This parable means that these kinds of people will surely reap their rewards. Therefore, when we decide to keep the word despite the challenges along our path, something good must come out of it.
The Reason the Word Does Not Bear Fruit in Us.
The parable of today though is filled with different interpretations, through Jesus’ interpretation of the parable let us find out why the word of God does not bear fruit in us after hearing the word.
1. When we hear the word without understanding and do not wish to understand, Jesus says that at this point the evil one comes and carries what was sown in his heart: this is the seed sown on the edge of the path according to the parable.
Examples here are the Pharisees, the scribes, and the chief priests who were antagonistic to Jesus because they refused to understand him.
This group will always twist the word to their understanding, they will like to make you believe in their subjective understanding of the bible. They gather more followers who follow their reasoning than the teachings of the church.
The devil works perfectly with this type of person. This is also when we hear the word and swallow it literally without interpretation.
2. Secondly, when we hear the word and welcome it at once with joy, but it has no root deep down and can never last; when trials and persecution come, we fall. These fell on a rocky path.
The crowd who responded positively to Jesus during his earthly ministry and even shouted Hosanna while He entered Jerusalem and yet turned against Jesus during his suffering and persecution belong in this field.
This simply indicates that while we receive the word, temptations and challenges might come. These can come from friends who will tell you how foolish you are, in what you are doing.
Those in this group are also those who encounter persecution, challenges, and suffering to the extent that it will look as if God does not exist, at this point some lose their faith.
This is why Jesus likens the one who keeps the word to a wise man, which built his house upon a rock, And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded upon a rock. (Matthew 7:24-25).
3. Thirdly, when we hear the word, the worry of the world and the desire for riches choke the word and so it produces nothing.
These are those who only listen to the word for the sake of what they want to hear, they only see God as an ATM, God of dollars and euro, and when they could not find the dollar and euro, they lose faith.
These kinds of people will never worship God if not for what they will want to gain. Remove materialism, they will stop coming to Church.
They are those who will tell you that Christianity is a scam because they think that God is just a bank, where they will go and carry huge amounts of money. When God decides to test their faith, they lose faith.
They hardly offer or book masses or support their church. These kinds of people are very selfish. Their interest is what they will gain and not what they can do for God. They always focus on their material gain.
The rich young man who was full of his possessions (Luke 12 13-21) is a good example. This is also when we allow the things we are passing through to take the upper hand in our minds over God. These will desert Jesus to save their lives and pursue wealth.
The Good Soil.
Good soil is those “who hear the word and understand it. They are those who have passed through the stages discussed above.
They are those who know that the word in its nature is capable of changing and transforming its subject. So, what they need only is to apply the word.
These are people who don’t take the word literally, they find its meaning and live on its guidelines. They are those who received the word and conquered the challenges and temptations that came their way.
They are those who never allowed the problems of this world to demean the power of the word in their lives, they do not only hear it, they live the word, and it bears fruits much in their lives.
These people are those who know that God’s word is worth more than riches. So, they do not allow the desires of wealth and riches to quench their thirst. These are the seeds that fell in good soil and bear a lot of fruit.
2. Secondly, the seeds that fell on the good soil are those who seek Jesus with all their hearts. God says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
These people make Jesus a priority. They pray to God not necessarily because of solution spirituality. They know they should communicate with God often.
Even if they are busy, they always make time for God. They develop a personal relationship with Him as you would pursue a relationship with somebody that you love. They take God as the highest priority in their life.
The Time for Harvest.
Jesus also uses the notion of the “harvest” as an indication that there is a time to sow, a time to fight, a time to work, and there must be a time to reap only if one does not lose hope in life.
Harvest indicates that there was a time someone planted, so now, He is reaping what He sow. Therefore, what this means is that if we want to eat good fruits, if we want to enjoy heaven on earth, we have to allow the seeds to fall into a good heart.
2. Secondly Jesus uses hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold as a way of explaining that the harvest is a gradual process, it is not something to be rushed.
The use of abundant harvest and hundredfold is an indication that the word bears a lot of fruit if we can keep to it. This can be anyone, it doesn’t matter what state you are in, all it matters is to be able to change and amend the type of life we live.
1. Paul referred to the word of God as the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (cf. Eph 6:17) This Paul emphasised is highly effective in the battle against powers and principalities of the evil kingdom, and against the kingdoms of the world.
The word of God is a mighty weapon, when we place our faith in it, the Holy Spirit makes it efficacious. We need to be conversant with the word to be able to win the challenges of life both spiritual and physical.
2. The Word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21). To eat the word is to stay inspired. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He responded to the devil three times “It is written”. In essence, the only way to win temptations is through the word.
4. We need the word to live, for Jesus says that man shall not live by bread alone but by every “live by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). We can be destroyed by lack of the knowledge of God (Hos 4:6), and be blessed if we hear and keep His Word (Lk 11:28).
The question remains, when was the last time you read the word? When Was the last time we heard the word and kept to it? We have the map already, and the map is the word. So let us continually feed ourselves with the word of God.
5. God has laid a standard that we should follow to live a well fruitful life. But we decide to live the way we want and this is the reason, everything is going upside down. When we choose the word of God as our standard, our life will begin to change.
Let us make a wise choice today.
May God help us to live according to His word. Amen
God bless you dearest and Happy Sunday.