Sermon 12 July 2020

Romans 8:1-11, Psalm 119:105-112, Matthew 13 :1-9,18-23

Sunday’s sermon July 12th, 2020 by Revd Tudor Vaughan Roberts All Saints Lydiard Millicent.

Spoken version is on our Church You Tube site.


Don’t you just love going down to the seaside it is something we haven’t been able to do easily during Covid-19 and I am looking forward to a time when we can go and dip our toes in the sea, and look out to the distant horizon. Well as a 30 something man Jesus lived in a house by the sea it might have been the disciple Matthew’s home we do not know. But on the same day that the disciples get accused of breaking the sabbath Jesus decides to leave his house and sit beside the sea. But in a scene akin to Monty Pythons ‘the Life of Brian’ he just cannot escape the crowd they follow him wherever he goes,  so  much for the idea of collecting ones thoughts by the fact so great is the crowd that Jesus is forced to get into a boat and go out a little from the shore, and sitting down in the boat which becomes his temporary pulpit this is quite similar to the context for the sermon on the Mount when Jesus spoke to the crowds but directed what he said to the disciples, and so in Matthew 13 with some of the key parables it’s the disciples who get to ask him questions, and he gives them the foundational meaning and full application, for they are the ones who must take the ‘word of God from the Light of the World’ and take it out into a first century Greco-Romano culture.

You would think what with Jesus being in a boat that he would talk about ‘fishy things’ and the sea and storms but no! here is a list of the stories he tells.

The sower

The weeds

The mustard seed and the yeast

The hidden treasure and the pearl

And then finally he talks about the net that was put down deep, a ‘fishy tale’ if you will

But mainly these are agricultural talks, but you do not have to read ‘Farmers weekly’ or be a fan of ‘Gardeners world’ to understand but that might help.

Today we start with the parable of the sower in some ways it might be better called the parable of the seed or the soils but parable of the sower it is.

This story is about what enables the seed and soil to combine, what is it that inhibits the growth of a seed, so it is about 4 different planting 3 were unsuccessful and the fourth was super abundantly successful.

The path, the rocky ground, the thorns, all produce little growth in fact the young plants can die or get dry or strangled by these hazards and it does not take a genius to work out that the seed is like young converts and potential disciples they are like little ducklings or little lambs vulnerable to predators.

Jesus as I said last week is a brilliant observer of people and nature, but the prime purpose of Matthew 13 is not a horticultural or agricultural lesson however valuable that nay be the parable of the sower is in essence about wealth and distractions that can push a young nascent disciple off course. When Jesus asks his disciples in Matthew 13:51 have you understood all these things (i.e. all the parables he has taught) the disciples all say ‘Yes’ but the full meaning of what Jesus taught could not be known to them until they had seen Jesus die on  the Cross and be resurrected, then they would be equipped to live a life of persecution of young Christians in the Romano Greco world.

The disciples are the good soil in which the seeds of the Kingdom of God take root. We know that because if they had not been we would not exist today as the Church, the inheritors of everything the first disciples fought for under the care of the Holy Spirit and they proved to be more than adequate disciples and adequate witnesses to God’s love and the way of the Cross. They were fertile soil because they dared to ask questions and Jesus was so missionally intentional that he took them aside to teach them what the key stories meant including what the parable of the sower meant. In Matthew 13 the disciples are given the secrets of the kingdom of God through their calling to be Jesus disciples. and be given special teaching. These stories were heard by all but only the disciples were given the true meaning,  only those who respond to Jesus in faith can grasp what he meant.

The first three soils Jesus tells us in verses 4 to 7  of Matthew 13 are all inadequate, In the Palestine of Jesus day farmers would do broadcast sowing walking up and down the stony paths between the rows of soil and throwing out the seed, none of these first three inadequate soils stands for true believers  because none of them in the end produce any fruit at all.  And then the good soil is quite extraordinary as  harvest of even twenty-fold were seen as exceptional but  30, 60, or 100 that was unheard of. But in God’s big picture that is the history of the Church one of the reasons we have global mission links is to encourage us to see Gods big picture. In Bangladesh where MAF work and Brazil where CMS works thousands are coming to Christ. Why is that? because the Gospel grows where people are open to God and China and Africa and Asia and Latin Amreca as opposed to in the West people do seem to have been extraordinarily open to God in recent decades and years. As a tall person I have to be disciplined and not walk with my head down,  but we all I believe in these days need to lift up our heads to the coming King. His is the victory His is the harvest and we in the West need to admit we have been distracted and beguiled by wealth, strangled by the thistles of consumerism, and poor soil of worry and taken our eyes off Jesus.     

Do not be discouraged friends if people do not respond to God and  the claims of the Gospel of Christ Jesus warned us it would be so. But at the same time, we need to be encouraged to be more expectant of great fruit and a great harvest. If as Jesus says it is the….     

Evil one who snatches away the first seedling of the Word of God

If trouble and persecution  mean people fall  away

If the worries of this life do cause people to fall away

And if the deceitfulness of wealth is damaging to our faith, we need to be aware of these things  and pray accordingly for each other and those we seek to bring to Christ.

The Gospel says Stanley Hauerwas is dangerous if like Peter we think at first its easy to follow Jesus. Later he would be the most obedient, the most brave of all the disciples and was martyred ( we think) having first being forced to watch his wife be killed by Nero’s forces in front of his very eyes  (say some reliable sources of history) Certainly we know that 10 of the original 12 disciples died for their faith and John himself was exiled for many years on Patmos.  People in “new churches” (wonderful though they are) would be wise to realise that they ignore Church history at their peril (we need to learn this lesson too) Church History is not just for ‘booky nerds’ like me! it is actually vital that we all know that suffering for your faith worldwide for the last 2000 years plus is the default position of the vast majority of believers. Jesus reminds us in the parable of the Sower that discipleship wil hurt, try picking up a thistle without cutting your hand!  Many of the problems that people talk about to me I believe would be softened if they were to not live their Christian lives in  isolation so much ( a mistake I often make) As CS Lewis said when we go to Church we are getting as it were ‘in wartime a briefing from our Commander in Chief about the secret actions of the enemy’ and through worship, through prayer, through the Eucharist, through God’s word, through Holy Spirit fellowship, we are given weapons, protection and strategy so we cannot just survive, but grow. So, do not give up!, as the writer of Hebrews said, meeting together, do not give up praying, do not give up forgiving, and getting forgiveness, do it  today not next week!  

I say more on the spoken sermon about Romans 8 but suffice here to say Romans 8 talks about the Holy Spirit. Therefore, says Paul “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. I have had several experiences over the past months when for various reasons I have felt ‘condemned’ I have taken it to Jesus and he says “Tudor you’re in my sight don’t worry” “get up it’s a new day”. I have also gone back and read the words of the Ordinal ( the words a Bishop say over you as you are made deacon and Priest), and l realised afresh it is no mistake ‘God did call me’ Praise God.. What about you?    You see, what God condemns is not you or me but sin in us. Without the Holy Spirit living in us we remain (says Romans 8 : verses 6 and 7) hostile to God for we do not submit to his laws. But here’s the thing we have Christ in us the ‘Hope of Glory’ that very same power that raised Christ Jesus from death lives in every true believer and all the things, all the disappointments and betrayals of the world cant bring us down, Christ Lives in me, lives in you true believer  He is our  rock and our redeemer .  That is enough to make me want to go and dip my toes in the beach, Anyone coming with me with Jesus? The water is warm.


Tudor V Roberts   

Almighty God, take my life and let it be a reflection of your glory,your grace, your redemption your purposes.

Cause me and those I love to grow up like strong plants.Protect me from the attacks of the evil one to discourage me.

In my family,in my Church,in my workplace, in my network of friends,out in the community, annoint me ,help me,commision me afresh to be your child, to be your disciple, and in my own small way or big way, to be a world changer,a waymaker, so that your Almighty Holy Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven.Amen.






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