A Good Word for the Workers: You May Awaken an Angel
July 10, 2005
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Matthew 13: 1-9; 18-23
The Parable of the Sower
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning. Our topic for today is “A Good Word for the Workers: You May Awaken an Angel.”
I believe that each and every one of you is a worker in the vineyard of God. I believe that in a special way there is a part of you that wants to draw others to the circle of God’s love. I believe that each and every person that has given his or her life to Jesus Christ has a draw and a pull to want to be a worker in God’s kingdom.
But being a worker in God’s kingdom can sometimes be discouraging. There are some times that we feel let down or disappointed. There are some times when we wonder if we’re doing any good at all. I believe that today’s Gospel is Jesus’s strongest word of encouragement to the workers in God’s fields. And those workers are you. So, in the form of a story, let me share this with you.
You may have noticed in the Gospel that there is a slice missing. Our Gospel today is Matthew 13:1-9, and then it skips to verses 18-23. I won’t make us read that right now. You may want to take a look at it sometime. But in summary, what that’s about is that the disciples are bickering a bit with Jesus, wondering why Jesus does some of the things He does. There’s a bit of unrest in that. I’d like to pick up on that in our sermon story this morning.
It is dawn. Come with me to the Holy Land, won’t you? Come and see the house where Jesus is staying. That little sand-colored house is filled with all the energy of God, for in it sleeps the Savior, Christ. It is sunrise. The sun is beginning to send its golden rays across the sands of the Holy Land. And Jesus wakens and looks and sees the sun and, in His heart, greets His heavenly father.
He goes out of the house to see that His disciples are already there, waiting for Him. Others are there, too, waiting for His words, waiting for Him to speak. He leaves His house and walks down to the Sea of Galilee. It’s one of His favorite places to go. It’s beautiful. The Sea of Galilee is really a very large lake. Surrounding the lake are grassy hills, verdant and rich with trees and wildflowers, beautiful little flowers that Jesus referred to as the lilies of the field.
As Jesus walks along, surrounded by His disciples, a crowd gathers. More and more people come, wondering what He will do. People are bringing ill ones to Him for a healing. He goes toward the mountain and sees that many people have already gathered to hear Him. He turns to His disciples and says, “Get me a boat, won’t you? I think I need to go out a little ways from shore so that all these folks can hear me.” He looks at them, anticipating that they will soon bring the boat, but they just stand there. He looks and says, “Well?”
The disciples look at the ground, kicking the sand around with their feet.
“Oh, I see,” says Jesus. “You have something to say to me. Well, let’s have it. What is it?”
Peter says, “Lord, we’ve been talking.”
Jesus says, “I know that. I’ve seen you. You think I did not see you, but I did. What is it?”
“Lord, we don’t know how to say it, but we’re getting a little discouraged.”
“Discouraged? Why? Look at the crowds on the hill. These are as sheep without a shepherd. They are people who have struggled and been stressed and heavy-laden by the law of religious ritual. They want a way to God. Aren’t they being helped?”
“Well, yes, but Lord, we’re still discouraged.”
“Why, my dear ones? Why are you discouraged?” says Jesus.
Peter makes bold to make the first statement. “Lord, here it is. You called us by the seaside. You said that You would make us fishers of men and women, and we don’t feel like very successful fisher people.”
“Why?” said Jesus.
“Well, first of all, it’s the scribes and the Pharisees. Lord, we have gone to them and tried to bring them the joy and good news of Your message. We have invited them to come and hear You speak. We have invited them to Sabbath service. And they won’t hear of it! Trying to talk to them is like throwing pebbles against the wall. They won’t listen to a thing. I guess I’m not such a good fisherman after all.”
“Oh, Peter,” says Jesus. “Is that what’s wrong?”
John speaks up. “Well, Lord, there’s more. There’s Marcus.”
“Marcus?” says Jesus. Marcus is a good man. Wasn’t he just in the crowd? He was so enthusiastic. I thought he was catching on rather well. Didn’t you?”
John said, “Marcus is gone.”
“Gone?” said Jesus. “Is that right? Why?”
“We don’t know. It seems that there are some other things that have come up in his life, and, well, he’s just gone.”
“Oh, I see.”
Peter speaks up again. “And Jesus, do You remember the time when we tried to protect You from all those families who tried to bring their children up for a blessing? Do You remember that?”
Jesus said, “Well, yes, I do. I thought that was important. Don’t you?”
“Well, we thought You had better things to do. But no, You wanted to bless all those children, and so we let them come.”
Jesus said, “Is anything wrong with that?”
“Well, how many of them are still around today?” they said.
Jesus said, “What about Priscilla and Acquila? Aren't they like angels to us? Aren’t they providing for our needs and here everyday?”
Peter said, “That’s two! There were twenty – twenty!—that came for a blessing that day.”
Jesus said, “But what about Priscilla and Acquila?”
They just shrugged their shoulders.
Judas spoke up. “You know, Lord, there were a number of people in our gathering that are no longer with us.”
Jesus said, “Why?”
“Well, do you remember Simon Barabbas?”
Jesus said, “Do I ever! Of course.”
“He is talking a military message. He wants to overthrow Rome. And a lot of people find that very attractive.”
Jesus took a deep breath and said, “Rome will fall. The Kingdom will stand.”
“How can You say that, Lord?” said Judas. “Rome is strong
and powerful. Look at their fortresses.”
Jesus said, “Rome will fall, but God’s Kingdom will stand.”
“They’ve gone to Simon Barabbas, Lord.”
And the Lord said, “I fear we’ve not heard the last of Simon Barabbas.”
“Oh, by the way, Lord, some of the mothers that were here became followers, but they’ve been distracted.”
“Why?” said Jesus.
“Because,” they said, “of discus.”
“Discus?” Jesus said.
“Yes, it seems that in the Coliseum they’re playing discus on the Sabbath now, and the parents are taking them to practice and to tournaments, away games, You know.”
“Oh,” said Jesus. “What’s the matter? Will you two leave?”
They sighed and shook their heads and said, “Oh Lord, where else shall we go? For You have the words of life.”
And Jesus said, “Then, what’s the matter?”
And they said, “Lord, we’re discouraged. We’re afraid you might be disappointed in us, because we’re not the fishermen that You wanted us to be.”
Jesus smiled. He walked toward the boat and said, “Listen to this, my dear ones.” Jesus got in the boat and looked out on the crowd. He saw on the hill a farmer with a bag of seeds over his shoulder and the open part in front. As the farmer walked along, he took the seeds and threw them one way and then the other, one way and then the other. And Jesus said, “Once a farmer went out to sow seed. As he walked along and threw the seeds on the ground, some of the seeds fell on hard sidewalk between the fields. Nothing grew. And the farmer continued to walk along and spread the seeds. Some of the seeds fell on ground, but the ground was only an inch deep. Then the roots hit rock, and they withered. But the farmer kept on going. He kept on spreading the seeds. He came to a place that looked good, but it was full of weeds underneath. As the seeds grew into good plants, the weeds came and choked them, and they withered.
“But,” said Jesus, “the farmer kept on going, and he kept on spreading the seeds of God’s word and God’s love and God’s kindness, and the seeds fell on good ground and bore a hundredfold and sixty-fold and thirty-fold. Won’t you hear what I have to say?”
And Jesus got out of the boat, and the disciples looked at Him and said, “Lord, was that sermon as much for us as it was for them?”
And Jesus said, “You have heard well, my dear ones. The Lord does not call you to be perfect in everything you do, but the Lord simply calls you to be faithful, to do your job day in and day out and not worry so much about the end result. Because it is God that will bring the harvest. Someone sowed the seed that brought you to God, right? Someone, somewhere, along the line? And here you are, faithful ones. Be faithful. Spread the seed as the farmer does, considering all ground good ground. God will take care of the rest. For in doing so, you may awaken an angel, like yourself.”
May dear friends, laborers in God’s fields, sometimes the seeds we sow of God’s love and invitations to God’s house and to the things of God and to faith may be seeds that we may never see grow. But you never know when that word will take root and grow in a heart. Oh, my dear friends, don’t be discouraged. Be not wearied. Continue to spread the seed of God’s word, God’s kindness, and God’s invitation, for someday you may be awakening an angel like yourself.
God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2005 Anthony J. Godlefski