Sermon – November 3, 2019

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John 9:13-34 – A Parable of Soils (mp3)

Jesus’ parables are treasure troves of insight and knowledge. For the first hearers, they may have been difficult to comprehend. And not always just for the first hearers! While John doesn’t include Jesus’ parables, in John 9 we can see the parable of the soils acted out in the characters and groups engaged in a battle over the healing of the man. The word, Jesus himself, has been thrown into their midst. What will they do with him? How do they respond? Indeed, these are the same questions we should ask ourselves, and daily: What will we do with Jesus? How do we respond to his commands and his presence? Let us briefly examine our own soil this morning!

1. The hard soil: calloused by pride
The first group that we will consider is those who are best seen as the hard soil, unable to receive any good from Jesus. They won’t broker any thought that Jesus might be doing God’s will. While one might wonder what Jesus could do to help their attitude, the fact is that their minds have already been made up. Friends, do not let your heart be hardened in this manner. Allow the word of God to correct you, and assume that the word has much to give you. If you reject Jesus and what he says outright, there is no room for any growth in your life.

2. The thorny soil: choked by worries
The second group of Pharisees seem more receptive to Jesus, not throwing him out right away, and holding out some hope that they might succumb to reason. Yet, once the man confesses that Jesus is a prophet, all division fades. They simply assume that the miracle didn’t happen; once that is laid to rest, they fall back on the idea that Jesus is a sinner. Why the change? The only hint in the text is the fact that Jesus is called a prophet. For those Pharisees slightly inclined to see Jesus in a positive light, such a confession threatens their social standing. If a prophet, they would need to listen to Jesus, and see him as an authority over them. Their worry and care over their own standings, their own position in their group, and it seems to solidify them against Jesus. Friends, Jesus is not concerned with your social standing, your rights, or your prerogatives. Don’t place these things over your allegiance to Jesus – doing so will choke out your growth, and leave you fruitless!

3. The rocky soil: withered by fear
The man’s parents, called in to testify about the blindness of their son, are a good image of the rocky soil. No doubt they received the news of Jesus’ work with joy – their son could see! But that joy is not anchored in Christ himself, so when a time of persecution comes, they refuse to give glory to Jesus and admit what they know to be true. They fear man more than they fear God. Friends, do not wither in the face of persecution. Fear God more than man, and you will produce much fruit! Which, nicely, brings us to point 4…

4. The good soil: grown by trial
The man has suffered much, being blind since birth. Now, having just been healed, he is facing a trial which he quickly realizes is not really about his opened eyes, but rather about the man who opened them. What is most interesting is that it is the persecution that he undergoes for the truth that brings out his best confession and demonstrates his growth. We ought not to run from difficulties, trials, temptations, persecutions. It is not that we should seek them out, but when we find ourselves facing them, they are sources of great growth. Let difficulty come, that our fruit may grow!