Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sexagesima Sunday, 2012. Luke 8:4-14.
The Sower and the Seed

The Sower,
by Norma Boeckler



Sexagesima Sunday, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #190               Christ the Lord                      1:52
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 339               All Hail the Power             1:57

Flung with Reckless Abandon

The Hymn # 308     Invited                         1:63
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #46     On What Has Now Been Sown              1:62

2 Corinthians 11:19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
 20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.  21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.  22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.  23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool ) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.  29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?  30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.  31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.  32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:  33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)  4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.  6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.  7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.



Sexagesima Sunday
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that through Thy Son Jesus Christ Thou hast sown Thy holy word among us: We pray that Thou wilt prepare our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may diligently and reverently hear Thy word, keep it in good hearts, and bring forth fruit with patience; and that we may not incline to sin, but subdue it by Thy power, and in all persecutions comfort ourselves with Thy grace and continual help, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Flung with Reckless Abandon

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

As I wrote last week, the Word of God clearly shows us what is meant by its language. If we are puzzled by one passage in the Bible, which seems dark to us, we can compare it to another passage where it seems clearer to us. That does not mean the Bible is lacking in clarity but that we need more passages to grasp the truth of what is being revealed. The same truths, or mysteries, are revealed in different ways, so we can grasp it one way and see how the same truth is expressed in another way. The Holy Trinity, the Two Natures of God, and Holy Communion are three examples.

Therefore, if someone wants to argue, rationally, that tiny children cannot believe in God, we can show them many passages that express infant faith and infant baptism. Whenever I run across a Lutheran apostate I find the person arguing that Luther really taught something else, but no one (except the author) realizes it. Thus a recent writer on the CN blog said Luther was against infant baptism. But do not be shocked. The leaders of the “conservative” synods today imagine that Luther taught against justification by faith. In fact, Luther anticipated the “everyone forgiven” theme and warned against it, as anyone can see by opening the Book of Concord.

In this case we know that Jesus is teaching us a parable because the actual word “parable” is used. That may seem too obvious at the moment, but we really need to take each word and  phrase seriously, just as we take context seriously. The words are not fillers but careful, precise revelations from God. That is why faithful translations are necessary. Adding and subtracting from the Word may be popular, but faithful Christians have always frowned on it, as Revelation does.

All we need to know about evangelism and missionary work is summed up in four descriptions:

  • 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
  • 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
  • 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
  • 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.

If we try to place ourselves in the role of teacher, could we sum up all missionary and evangelism work in a four sentence short story? There are contests for thumbnail short stories, and no one can approach the depth of wisdom in these verses.

Before the parable is explained, there is this important half-verse –

And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Not everyone can comprehend the lesson of the parable. As Jesus taught, the parables were not for people strolling by and seeing what all the fuss was about, or hoping for a miraculous meal, or a spectacular miracle to talk about. God in His wisdom knows His sheep and invites them into the Kingdom.

The parables are puzzles and objects of mockery to most, but filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for believers.

10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Lenski:

“The mysteries of the kingdom of God” are all the blessed realities that are contained in the divine rule of grace and glory. They are a unit “mystery” when they are taken together as is done in Mark 4:11. They are called this because by nature and by their own native abilities men are unable to discover and to know them. It must “be given” to a man “to know” them, γνῶναι, aorist, actually to grasp them. This divine giving takes place by revelation, through the preaching and the teaching of the gospel of the kingdom. In the verb “has been given” there lies the idea of pure grace, and the agent back of the passive is God. On the kingdom of God see 1:33.
Jesus tells his disciples, both the Twelve and others, that it has been given to them to know the mysteries but to all others, to the Pharisees and the multitudes, only “in parables.” Due to something in the past the disciples have these mysteries, the others have them not. The perfect tense “has been given” points to an act of giving in the past that has resulted in the present possession of that gift. What was it in the past that caused the present difference between the disciples and “the rest”? All the Scriptures answer: no unwillingness on the part of God to bestow the gift (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9; John 3:16; Matt. 28:19, 20) but only the unwillingness of so many to receive God’s grace and gift (Matt. 23:37; Acts 7:51; Hos. 13:9). By persistently declining the grace and the gift whenever they came to them these people are now without them. Thus all the realities of the kingdom are still a mystery to them. They nullified every effort on the part of God and of Christ to bestow the heavenly gift upon them; this nullifying is the work of persistent unbelief.
The only thing that is thus left to Jesus is to speak “in parables” to those outside, who are still unbelieving after all his efforts. These parables the believers will understand because they possess the key to them in knowing the mysteries of grace. As far as the rest are concerned, parables have a double purpose: first, they are to prevent understanding as the ἵνα clause states: “in order that seeing they may not see,” etc.; second, that hope is not yet completely cut off, their judgment being only preliminary as yet. That is why Jesus does not turn from them completely but still speaks to them in these wonderful parables which, almost like nothing else, cling to the memory and the mind and keep insisting on their interpretation. So these parables are a last effort to reach “the rest.” On his second point Jesus does not, however, dwell.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 445

This is the part often skipped because Jesus seems to be mean, but it is a crucial part of the Gospel lesson. The parables are for believers, but they are easily remembered. An unbeliever can write an essay about this parable and not know what the Holy Spirit is teaching.

One WELS author wrote about this parable as if it teaches that we have to test the soil first to make sure there is a good harvest. His authority is training at Fuller Seminary, where they teach – please do not laugh – soil testing. Yes, the eager minister can discover first whether he will be successful by their expensive but scientific training in soil testing. This soil testing was taught in The Northwestern Lutheran (WELS), proving the meaning of this verse – “; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”

People need to judge someone’s confession and faith rather than the individual’s role and title. Many ordained clergy are unbelievers, apostates, enemies of the Gospel. The Church Growth Movement is proof of that, and it poisons all the denominations. Even the Catholics have adopted it here and there.

11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God.

This little verse is not something to rush by, to find the good parts. Let’s say some skeptic knew this parable by heart, as many skeptics do. The Word disturbs them so they know passages better than regular church-goers. He knows the parable, which is easy to remember, but cannot apply it until he believes the Gospel. And then he realizes the Word was like seed growing in his heart, alive and active and at work.

Gardeners are fortunate because they comprehend this parable better than most. Every seed is alive, just waiting to burst into growth. Place a few in a moist paper towel and the baby plant inside fires up the root system and strains to push out into sunlight.

The Word of God is compared more than once to seed. We become believers through the Word:

KJV 1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

The efficacy of the Word is thus taught in the seed comparison, the rain and snow of Isaiah 55:8, and as a graft in James. We also have the beautiful John 15:1ff passage about the True Vine, the mustard seed parable, and many more examples to show us that God’s Word belongs to Him and has His power and efficacy.

Some might say, because they read this blog just to find fault – “The word efficacy itself is not found in the Bible.”

But it is. The word-group is found extensively in the New Testament.

KJV Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is quick, and powerful [GJ – effective], and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

KJV 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

KJV 1 Corinthians 16:9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

So this one verse draws into it all the other explanations of the Word of God, so we trust this powerful, effective, incorruptible Word.

Jesus described missionary and evangelism work in four parts, representing the whole (as in the four corners of the world, etc; groups of four suggest completeness in the Bible). This does not mean 25% are apostate, 25% this and that. Instead, the four categories tell us that the Word encounters these situations, and this is a complete picture.



A - Apostasy – falling away from the faith –
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

These are apostates, and they are within the visible church. We know that because they were once believers. Satan has beguiled them into thinking he can give them success, or he has seduced them with the charms of the world. The Word was in their hearts and it was snatched away.

That is just what happened when people would broadcast seed in their garden plots at the time of Jesus. The footpaths were hardened, so seed fell there and birds immediately took it away. Gardeners know that birds quickly figure out who sows seed and who digs up loose soil for them to explore for bugs and worms. My bird population makes a point of singing above my head so I scatter more sunflower seeds. And I do.

Cult members also hover around Christians because they know believers will listen to the Word. So they say, “I can teach you the deeper truths of the Bible.”
Cult members go to evangelism meetings and try to meet people as they are leaving, to snatch the living seed from their hearts.



B - Banishing the Cross
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

When I fed the birds on a flat roof in New Ulm, I had a large area where seed fell down, found some soil or rotting leaves, and germinated. There were always little plants growing on that roof. Once we had a sunny day with little rain, the little plants dried up because they never had roots in any depth of soil.

The seducing ministers of today teach the Gospel without the cross. They shun the cross themselves and know that people will hear the message of forgiveness with great joy. However, those same people (like many ministers) will also fall away when they are tested by difficulties caused by the Word.

They teach the mega-church ministers to consider people as scaffolding to get them up to the heights. Hundreds fall away, but that does not matter if a huge building is built and everyone admires the apparent success. In Glendale Arizona, everyone seemed to be a former member of Joy – the Church Growth congregation that planned a water park on their property.




C – Choked from Cares, Riches, Pleasures
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Many plants enjoy riotous growth, no matter what the conditions are. They thrive in rain and in lack of rain. They are weeds. We had thorns growing 9 feet tall in New Ulm. They choked the soil with their thick roots and blocked the sun with their rank growth. Weeds like that start as tiny plants. Given the chance, they take over.

A valuable plant can sit there and barely stay alive. It brings no fruit to perfection because it lacks the food from soil, soil, and rain to finish the growth process.

Likewise, the believer who lets anxieties, wealth, and pleasure take over will be like that stunted plant. The richest denominations in money are also those that are most indifferent to the main articles of faith. Many ministers like the trappings of wealth and long to share in what they covet so much.




D – Dedicated Hearers
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

One axiom of gardening is that a small amount of seed produces a large amount of flowers or food, given a little care. And everyone knows that much will happen along the way, from varmints eating the seeds and plants to lawn companies spraying them with weed killer (especially effective on flowers).

The first three categories of the parable are warnings, but they also keep us from being discouraged. All the bad things are going to happen. “The Gospel is thinly sown” as Luther said. But the results belong to God and they are far beyond what anyone could hope, if we are dedicated to being faithful rather than successful.

For those who trust in the Bible’s description of the Word, faithfulness is success, God’s success, God’s will and production.

The chief and greatest congregation for the minister (or head of the household) to manage is his own family. He can forget world ministry if he neglects his household. But if he raises his family with diligence, the Gospel will grow in abundance in the next generation, even with all the problems and crises we face today.

Where the Gospel seems to fail, that is not the fault of the Word, as the parable says. It is not the fault of the sower, as we can see. The problems come from A, B, and C – Apostasy, Banning the Cross, and Choking from Riches, Cares, and Pleasures.

So the lesson of this parable, once understood, is clear for all evangelism and world missionary work – Spread the Word with Reckless Abandon. God will accomplish His will through His Word, as He has promised throughout the Scriptures.

Quotations

J-208

1)     "Preach you the Word and plant it home
To men who like or like it not,
The Word that shall endure and stand
When flowers and men shall be forgot.

2)     We know how hard, O Lord, the task
Your servant bade us undertake:
To preach your Word and never ask
What prideful profit it may make.

3)     The sower sows; his reckless love
Scatters abroad the goodly seed,
Intent alone that men may have
The wholesome loaves that all men need.

4)     Though some be snatched and some be scorched
And some be chocked and matted flat,
The sower sows; his heart cries out,
'Oh, what of that, and what of that?'

4)     Preach you the Word and plant it home
And never faint; the Harvest Lord
Who gave the sower seed to sow
Will watch and tend his planted Word."
Martin H. Franzmann, 1907-76, "Preach You the Word," Lutheran Worship, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982, Hymn #259.

Satan takes away the seed

The first group is represented by those who have the Word snatched from their hearts by Satan. When the sower casts his seed, some will fall upon the hard footpaths that border the planting area. These footpaths were well known to Jesus’ audience and not unknown today. If a path is worn in grass from frequent traffic, sowing seed on it alone will not restore the growth. First the soil must be softened and turned to promote germination. So it is when people with hardened hearts hear the Gospel but do not grasp it. It goes in one ear and out the other. They are hearers only and not doers.[16] They may acknowledge the faith in some minor way, even earn a living as ministers or teachers, but they do not sincerely believe and therefore do not act upon faith. Luther emphasizes in the strongest terms that synodical unbelievers belong to Satan.

J-209

"The first class of disciples are those who hear the Word but neither understand nor esteem it. And these are not the mean people of the world, but the greatest, wisest and the most saintly, in short they are the greatest part of mankind; for Christ does not speak here of those who persecute the Word nor of those who fail to give their ear to it, but of those who hear it and are students of it, who also wish to be called true Christian and to live in Christian fellowship with Christians and are partakers of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. But they are of a carnal heart, and remain so, failing to appropriate the Word of God to themselves, it goes in one ear and out the other, just like the seed along the wayside did not fall into the earth, but remained lying on the ground..."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 114.

Satan is always at war against Christianity and never stops stealing faith from people, just as birds never seem to stop feeding. As Lenksi has noted in his commentary on Mark, Satan snatches away faith in many different ways:

J-210

“Once he tells a man, that the Word which disturbs his conscience is a mere exaggeration, sin is not so deadly, God cannot have wrath, we must not allow our enlightened minds to be moved by such outworn notions; again, it is all uncertain, no uncontested fact in it, and no up-to-date man believes such things; then, the preachers themselves do not really believe what they say, they preach only to make an easy living, and are really hypocrites, as their own actions often show.”       
            R. C. H. Lenski, Mark, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1934, p. 108.

Rocky Soil

The second group is similar to seed sown on rocky soil. A grain crop will send down deep roots, but rocky soil will first promote rapid germination by soaking up the warmth of the sun and then kill the plant by preventing proper root growth. Often sunflower seeds will germinate and grow on a flat roof with some soil blown onto it. But the seedlings quickly die from the heat as well as the lack of moisture and soil. In the same way, people will hear the Gospel and rejoice in the forgiveness of their sins. However, they cannot tolerate any hardship from illness or poverty. They are like Sloth, who falls into the Slough of Despond in Pilgrim’s Progress. “If this is how the journey begins, then how can I finish?” These people miss the joys of being a Christian during times of affliction and persecution, for the Light shines all the more brightly in the dark night of the soul.



J-211

"The second class of hearers are those who receive the Word with joy, but they do not persevere. These are also a large multitude who understand the Word correctly and lay hold of it in its purity without any spirit of sect, division or fanaticism, they rejoice also in that they know the real truth, and are able to know how they may be saved without works through faith...But when the sun shines hot it withers, because it has no soil and moisture, and only rock is there. So these do; in times of persecution they deny or keep silence about the Word and work, speak and suffer all that their persecutors mention or wish, who formerly went forth and spoke, and confessed with a fresh and joyful spirit the same, while there was peace and no heat, so that there was hope they would bear much fruit and serve the people."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 116.

Lenski adds that the rockiness of the soil is the hidden hardness of men’s hearts, revealed only when persecution comes because of the Word. Rocky soil can look outwardly soft and fertile, like the front yard of our last parsonage. Digging a few inches revealed construction trash, rocks, and excess concrete dumped in the ground. No gardener would expect long-term growth in such soil.

Thorns

Jesus compares the third group to seed sown where thorns grow and choke the crop. How many have returned from a long vacation in August to find their favorite crops choked by weeds? The plants may grow, but they will not produce well and be fruitful. Thus many different cares push the Gospel from the hearts of believers: ordinary concerns, lust for money, self-centered pleasure. Many are too busy working for their daily bread, and luxuries, to thank their Creator for their material and spiritual blessings. One would be hard-pressed to find many faithful and thankful Christians on the Forbes magazine list of the wealthiest people in America. In the parable, not wealth, but “the deceitfulness of riches” is compared to the thorns.[17] Lenski wrote: “Wealth as such, whether one has it or not, always tends to deceive, by promising a satisfaction which it can not and does not bring, thus deceiving him who has it or who longs for it (Mark 10:24, p).”[18] Weeds have the ability to seem harmless at first. Many believers have fallen away from the faith by saying to themselves, “This particular evil desire (alcohol, gambling, prestige, power, another person’s spouse, another man’s divine call) will not harm me.” Slowly the weed chokes the plant. We are inclined to praise ourselves for withstanding one obvious temptation while letting our faith be strangled by a different evil desire, one more subtle.

J-212

"Therefore they [who are fallen among thorns] do not earnestly give themselves to the Word, but become indifferent and sink in the cares, riches and pleasures of this life, so that they are of no benefit to anyone. Therefore they are like the seed that fell among the thorns...They know their duty but do it not, they teach but do not practice what they teach, and are this year as they were last."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 117.

The three groups are meant to warn listeners to avoid the dangers of 1) letting go of the Word because of Satan’s work; 2) running from the Gospel during difficult and dangerous times; and 3) letting anything displace God from our hearts.

Good Soil

The fourth comparison, the seed sown on good soil, assures us that the fruitfulness of the Word will be evident in the yield: 30 fold, 60 fold, 100 fold. When children are handed packets of sunflower seeds in the spring and told to plant them, they soon find out how the parable repeats itself in their own experience. Some seeds are lost on the way home. Others are eaten by the children. Some plants begin to grow but fail. However, one sunflower seed-head alone is always more than all the seeds originally given away. When a few children bring their largest seed-heads to church, they see the power of God in Creation and in the Gospel. The baptized children themselves are testimony to the growth of the Gospel through the visible Word.



J-213

“Through a seed are we born again, for nothing grows as we see except from seed. Did the old birth spring from a seed? Then must the new birth also spring from a seed. But what is this seed? Not flesh and blood! What then? It is not a corruptible, but an eternal Word. It is moreover that on which we live; our food and nourishment. But especially is it the seed from which we are born again, as he here says. But how does this take place? After this manner: God lets the word, the Gospel, be scattered abroad, and the seed falls in the hearts of men. Now wherever it sticks in the heart, the Holy Spirit is present and makes a new man. Then there will indeed be another man, of other thoughts, of other words, and works. Thus you are entirely changed. All that you before avoided you now seek, and what you before sought that you now avoid. In respect to the birth of the body, it is a fact that when conception takes place the seed is changed, so that it is seed no longer. But this is a seed that cannot be changed; it remains forever. It changes me, so that I am transformed in it, and whatever is evil in me from my nature passes away. Therefore it is indeed a wonderful birth, and of extraordinary seed.”
            Martin Luther, Commentary on Peter and Jude, ed. John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990.



No comments: