Acts 20:22-24 “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Have you ever purchased a new field that was undeveloped for the purpose of planting a harvest? If you have, you are keenly aware of the work that goes into development, clearing away the stones, pulling up old trees and stumps, removing weeds and briars, and enriching the soil. Without the work, the labor of planting seed becomes an endeavor that will probably prove unprofitable. Much like the farmer, the fields of this world require a similar amount of care. Throw the seed upon the rocks or among the weeds and your expectation should coincide with your effort. Jesus gave a parable that illustrates this point.
Matthew 13:3-9 “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Soon after Jesus shared this parable the disciples questioned Jesus regarding the use of parables which were difficult for the people to understand. In the context of who the parable was meant for, Jesus was speaking to His people. Those who were to become partners with Christ in sharing the gospel and growing the Kingdom of God. Those who are not of Christ need not consider such an endeavor, planting seed is for the one who has been given seed to plant.
2 Corinthians 9:10 “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness”
The seed is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot partake of gospel work without becoming a servant of Christ first. Becoming a servant requires humility, just like Jesus modeled to us. Following Christ is an act of faith in recognition of who Christ is, trust in believing His Word is true, submission to His authority by which you place yourself under, and then receiving His Spirit who seals us by His power and sets us on His path by which He leads.
You must be redeemed from your old life and Jesus is the Redeemer.
Once you become His, He supplies you with all you need for life and godliness.
2 Peter 1:3 “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,”
The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit leads you into a greater knowledge of God, lifting up Christ before you and making you a testimony of His glory before the world. The Word of God becomes alive to the one walking in Him. Your testimony coupled with the gospel of Christ, pairs itself into a representation of Christ to the world.
Do you know what an honor that is? To represent Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of all, is to represent the King of Kings, who WAS, and IS, and IS to Come.
This responsibility as a christian is not one to be taken lightly, on the contrary, to call yourself a christian and live like the world is to blaspheme the name of Christ.
Once you are filled with the Spirit as evidence of your belief you become a partaker in the work of Christ…..sowing seed is part of that work.
Looking again at Jesus’ parable, we see what the rocks and thorns represent.
Matthew 13:18:22 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” The unprepared heart is the one who, like a field that wants to fulfill its purpose but cannot on its own, must receive the knowledge of truth by way of preparation.
The preparation is directed by God. He raises up people whom He sends before and softens the soil to makes it ready to receive the gospel. John the Baptist was raised up to do this very thing before Jesus Christ began His ministry upon the earth. Sometimes the work of soil preparation is not such a glamorous or fulfilling role. It takes very special people who don’t need their egos boosted by leading others to Christ, who go forth in toil and labor that the soil of receiving might be made ready. The role of laborer can be abusive, dangerous, and it takes a heart that maintains a steadfast spirit. It is this person that I highly revere, they get very little glory on earth but their reward in Heaven awaits and the Lord knows and will honor them.
Luke 7:28 “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
John the Baptist had not yet received the power of the Spirit of God because Jesus had not yet died for his sins. The Kingdom of God is filled with Spirit filled believers, even the least of them has more power than John did at that time. Greatness is a value that Christ alone holds, when Jesus imparts His Spirit to us, it is His greatness that we become partakers of.
Hebrews 3:3 “For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, in as much as He who built the house has more honor than the house.”
Reaping the Harvest
The work of bringing in the harvest might sound glorious but it too requires labor. There is much rejoicing when we witness the fruit of our labor, Jesus said even Heaven rejoices when one sinner comes to Him.
Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The work of God is accomplished by His people, with His message, by His power, and under His protection. As we look further in Matthew, we see the result of the seed producing people of righteousness, who then go forth and produce more fruit.
Matthew 13:23 “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
What if God’s people never stepped up and did the work that He requires?
Luke 19:40 “I tell you,” He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.”
“When power hath once gone forth from God, it does not return without accomplishing its purpose. It is wont to find something which it may rouse to act, whatever be the objects which come in its way.”Johann Albrecht Bengel
The works of God are manifold, we as followers of Christ have been privileged to partake of whatever work He has prepared us for. The focus we must maintain is on Christ alone, just like any gift God gives, the gift of being His representative is not a focus on the work but on loving God by loving others. Everything in a believers heart looks to the Maker of all things and He makes all things new.