Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sermon: Wednesday of Trinity 13

20 August 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Gal 3:15-22

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

In our epistle lesson, St. Paul speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ as a “Seed.” He is not merely being clever or cute here. The word “Seed” has a lot of meaning throughout Scripture.

Only eleven verses into the Bible, the Lord describes His creative work of the propagation of life through seeds which yield “fruit according to [their] kind.” Seeds are at the heart of fruits – which people eat, and which mankind then casts away to procreate new life. The seed is a tiny blueprint, a plan to replicate life as the Lord designed it.

One chapter later, after mankind has misused fruit unto disobedience, which instead of bringing nourishment and life, brought thorns and death - the seeds would no longer replicate perfect copies of perfect plants, which would spring to life without and trouble at all. For as a result of man’s fall into sin, the thorns would choke the plants, and many of them would die. The man would have to labor and sweat, tilling the soil and struggling to make the seeds grow until the day he too died.

And in the third chapter of Holy Scripture, in the very first promise of the Gospel, which was pronounced by God as a threat against the devil, the Lord Himself prophesies a conflict between the devil and the woman’s Seed. The devil would wound this prophesied Messiah’s heel, and the Seed would crush the serpent’s head.

That is a lot of talk of seeds in the first three chapters of the Bible!

Our Lord Jesus Christ tells a parable of seeds as well. In His story, the farmer (who is really a preacher) casts about seeds (which are really the Word of God). Our Lord reintroduces the earlier concepts of thorns and death – as some of the seeds get choked out by the very thorns that Adam’s sin brought forth. And most of the seeds of the preacher will die, and never bear fruit.

So, seeds are little self-replicating packets of life that are hidden in the midst of fruit. The idea is that the seeds themselves take root and eventually produce fruits. The seeds are planted by men, who then eat the fruit in order to live. But there is a specific biblical Seed, a promised descendant of Eve, who would bear perfect fruits, and though He would wear a crown of thorns, and though He would die, He would also be called the “first fruits of those who had fallen asleep” – referring to the resurrection. And through the casting of this Seed, the preaching of the Word, those promissory seeds take root in the fertile ground of those who have faith, faith which bears fruit, the fruit of good works, faith which replicates more seeds, yielding a crop of up to a hundredfold.

It is in this context that St. Paul picks up the discussion of Seeds in his letter to the Church at Galatia.

The same Seed promised to the woman was promised to Abraham. For Abraham’s descendant (Abraham’s name means “father of many”) is also Eve’s descendant (Eve’s name means “mother of all living”). The promise that God made to Eve He repeated to Abraham.

And the coming of Christ, the Seed of the fruit of the Tree of Life, is not for the purpose to give us more laws, but rather to bring us the promise, the promise that is Himself, the Seed.

As Paul explains to us, the Law’s purpose is not to be the promise, but to pave the way for the promise. The Law tills the soil of the heart unto repentance, so that when the Seed of the Word of God, of Christ Himself, is sown therein, that Seed will take root and grow to maturity and bear fruit – even the fruit of the Tree of Life.

And as our Lord, the Seed Himself preaches, unless the seed dies and goes into the ground, it cannot bring forth life and bear fruit.

And this, dear Christians, is the very essence of our faith. As St. Paul instructs: “Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.” And listen, dear friends to St. Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel here, listen and let this Seed of God’s living Word dwell in your hearts: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

Tonight, the Seed of the Word – the Word of forgiveness, the Word of the Gospel – has been implanted into you anew. Seeds matured into the fruit of wheat, which has beaten into flour from which to make bread. Other seeds matured into the fruit of grapes, which were crushed into wine. And through these seeds, the Seed Himself, the Word Himself, procreates life once more into us, beating back the thorns, crushing the serpent’s head, conquering death, and giving us a taste of the fruit of the Tree of Life, the fruits of which we will continue to savor, world without end. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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