Almost five years to the day, the prodigal son emptied his bank account, packed a few changes of clothes. and snuck off to the faraway country. Again.
She was the kind of woman whose biography would have needed very few exclamation points. Her invisibility was her most striking feature. Few recalled her, and none remembered any story in which she was either villain or heroine. She was the very incarnation of average. Many nights, staring at the ceiling, she wondered if anyone would even pretend to miss her when she died, much less mourn for her. Yet while spikes suspended him midair, and sweaty blood formed rivulets that ran down his face, Jesus had this woman on his mind. He let go of life to hold her. Greater love hath no man than he had for her. He'd go to hell and back to have her in heaven with him. She was his everything so he gave his everything for her.
For she was the kind of woman whom others saw as an everyday stone but whom Jesus knew was a pearl of great price. So he went and sold all that he had, and bought that pearl, not with gold and silver, but with the crimson currency pulsing through his veins.
She was the kind of woman in whom I see myself, in whom thousands of us see our own reflections. We are but a drop in the ocean of humanity. So often our lives seem pointless, a vain existence in a world that worships vanity. Who are we, really, but a bag of blood and bones, in which are mixed in bittersweet memories and the shards of shattered dreams and broken hearts?
We would not recognize ourselves if we looked at ourselves through the eyes of God. Where we see trash, he sees treasure. Where we see sin he sees righteousness. His vision is 20/20 love, which transforms his beloved into a lovely thing. It is like the picture of Dorian Gray reversed; whereas we see our horrid portrait of a stained life, God sees perfect beauty, because he sees us clothed in Jesus.
To be loved by God changes everything, for his love transforms everything about us. It is a love unearned, unalterable, unrelenting in its pursuit of us, his pearls of greatest price, for whom Jesus gave his all.
The sower went out to sow his seed. But you would have thought he blindfolded himself before he hit the fields because he sows his seed like a man who’s as blind as a bat. Look at him, this silly farmer! Recklessly, unpredictably, haphazardly he wanders over hill and dale, his hands casting seed from here to kingdom come. On asphalt and sand, among weeds and thorns, where soil is thick and thin, rich and poor—it matters not. For what concern does the farmer have where the seed may land?
He sows it on Sodom and four seeds take root—or is it three?—while the rest falls on rocky hearts destined for fire and brimstone. He sows it on Nineveh and over 120,000 seeds take root in the soil of repentant hearts. He sows it on Israel. In the Joshuas and Calebs and Rahabs and Moseses, the seeds find a home and grow; in others, the seeds find soil as soft as concrete, souls as hospitable as hell. He sows among the homosexuals of Sodom and gossiping widows of this town. He sows here and there and everywhere, preaching the Word in season and out of season, in the field and out of the field, embraced or rejected, scorned or loved.
When the sower went out to sow his seed, he dropped some into your heart. I wonder, will it take root, this seed of Christ, this seed of His grace and mercy. Will it take root, or has it? And if it has, will it remain? Will it take root in a heart like yours, a heart that is always eager to do good . . . so long at it’s pleasant and profitable for you; a heart that consistently rejects temptations . . . so long as the temptations are to do things you don’t really enjoy anyway; a heart that loves others . . . so long as they are nice to you, compliment you, and do what you want?
Will the seed of the Word remain in a heart like yours, a heart that loves a good story—a story that shows the weakness, failure, or stupidity of someone, especially if you don’t like that person anyway; a heart that keeps close tabs on how much money’s in the bank but pays little heed to how much the church floor is littered with the gold and silver of God’s Word, which you have let fall from your ears? Will the seed of Christ, the seed of His grace and mercy, take root in a heart like yours, a heart that is as clean as a manure pile and as fertile as a brick?
Repent. You know the truth as well as I do. You think that, compared to the hearts of hookers and thieves, yours is as clean as can be. You think the sower sowed his seed in you because he saw such good soil, such a good, generous, noble person. But that’s only the lie you love to believe, because it’s a lie that makes you feel good about yourself. Repent and believe. Believe the truth.
The truth is that when the sower sowed his seed in you, it fell on rock-hard soil; and where there weren’t rocks there were weeds; and where there weren’t weeds there were birds of the air waiting to devour it. But, lo and behold, the seed of God’s Word doesn’t look for good soil to fall into; it creates the soil for itself, no matter how rocky or how weed-infested your heart may be.
Jesus doesn’t look for the right kind of people to believe. He doesn’t scout out the best planting ground for His word. He simply sows, and His Word has its way with you. His Word—that Word of grace and absolution—transforms you, O sinner, into good ground. It is just as if a farmer sowed his seed on a Walmart parking lot one evening. By the time the sun rose, that concrete was rich soil. All that gray, lifeless stone was colored with blooms. A parking lot was transformed into a field of salvation. That’s what the Lord Jesus does to you and for you. He transforms your parking lot heart into a place for parking His Word, His Spirit, His body and blood, His divine life.
For the seed of His Word is packed with the flesh and blood of the Son, the Son dead and risen for you. It is packed with the life of the One who once was packed with your sin and death; packed with the bloody love of the One who chose to endure sacrifice rather than endure eternity without you; chose to be devoured by the demons, strangled by the weeds of justice, buried in the earth, that He might have and keep you as His own.
Humble yourself, therefore, under the nail-pierced hand of God, the hand that worked everything out for you. God sowed, you received. God changed your rock into soil; you received. God gave growth to His seed; you received. God keeps you in the faith, grants you daily forgiveness, and guarantees you heaven, and you—that’s right—you receive.
So rather than trusting in anything that we do, let us rest secure in the defense that God provides against all our foes. Be they the satanic fowl that seek to gobble up the Word; be they the thorns of cares, riches, and the pleasures of life; be they the burning sun of temptations; be what they may, come when they will, none of them will uproot the seed within you. It is defended by the sower, who never leaves His plant, who never forsakes you but for your sake plants Himself in you.
The sower went out to sow his seed. He sowed it in you, and when the harvest comes, he will find in you a crop, a hundredfold, ripened unto eternal life. Thanks be to God.