Based on Luke 8:9-18
Although I grew up spending lots of time on my grandparents’ farm outside Mt. Auburn, Indiana, I would never presume to be a farmer. The only time my Grandpa Barker let my brother and I drive his tractors, was when he needed help spreading rich, healthy manure on the fields. He would never let us drive the tractor when spreading seed on the fields, as seed was valuable, and he didn’t want us wasting it. I understand modern technology and GPS in the tractor cab makes spreading seed even more precise, taking into consideration soil condition, moisture, location in the field, etc. Modern farming doesn’t sound at all like the sower in the parable. Which doesn’t matter because Jesus isn’t giving agricultural advice, anyway. Rather, the Lord explains in our passage above how the seed in the parable is the Word of God — the seed which disciples of Jesus are to spread far and wide, without concern for where it will fall or how it will be received. While we wish every heart and life would be “good soil,” the truth of our human nature is that some hearts are like the hard-packed earth, others are cold as rock, while other lives are so full that they are already being choked out. Bottom line — whether the Word of God germinates and takes root and grows is not the responsibility of the disciple sowing the seed. Our task is to sow the seed of God’s Word liberally and freely. God takes care of the rest.
A word should be said about the second section of our reading, where Jesus speaks to His disciples about the need for their behavior to be worthy and reflective of the Word of God in them. No one lights a lamp and covers it — instead, it is placed in a prominent place where it will shine light into every dark corner. The follower of Jesus will want to keep that in mind, that our thoughts, words and deeds be above reproach. And when that is not the case, then we will confess, repent and seek forgiveness.
Prayer: Lord God, give us many opportunities to share the seed of your Word! Amen.
Lenten response: Consider printing Scripture verses on slips of paper that you give to others or leave in conspicuous places throughout your day.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 10:1–19
10:1 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem, for all Israel had gathered in Shechem to make Rehoboam king. 2When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard the news, he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon. Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3They sent for him, and Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4“Your father made us work too hard! Now if you lighten the demands he made and don’t make us work as hard, we will serve you.” 5He said to them, “Go away for three days, then return to me.” So the people went away.
6King Rehoboam consulted with the older advisers who had served his father Solomon when he had been alive. He asked them, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 7They said to him, “If you are fair to these people, grant their request, and are cordial to them, they will be your servants from this time forward.” 8But Rehoboam rejected their advice and consulted the young advisers who served him, with whom he had grown up. 9He asked them, “How do you advise me to respond to these people who said to me, ‘Lessen the demands your father placed on us’?” 10The young advisers with whom Rehoboam had grown up said to him, “Say this to these people who have said to you, ‘Your father made us work hard, but now lighten our burden’—say this to them: ‘I am a lot harsher than my father! 11My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier. My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.’”
12Jeroboam and all the people reported to Rehoboam on the third day, just as the king had ordered when he said, “Return to me on the third day.” 13The king responded to the people harshly. He rejected the advice of the older men 14and followed the advice of the younger ones. He said, “My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier. My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.” 15The king refused to listen to the people, because God was instigating this turn of events so that he might bring to pass the prophetic announcement he had made through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.
16When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, the people answered the king, “We have no portion in David—no share in the son of Jesse! Return to your homes, O Israel! Now, look after your own dynasty, O David!” So all Israel returned to their homes. 17(Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the cities of Judah.) 18King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, the supervisor of the work crews, out after them, but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam managed to jump into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19So Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic dynasty to this very day.(NET Bible)
81:1 For the music director, according to the gittith style; by Asaph.
Shout for joy to God, our source of strength!
Shout out to the God of Jacob!
2Sing a song and play the tambourine,
the pleasant-sounding harp, and the ten-stringed instrument.
3Sound the ram’s horn on the day of the new moon
and on the day of the full moon when our festival begins.
4For observing the festival is a requirement for Israel;
it is an ordinance given by the God of Jacob.
5He decreed it as a regulation in Joseph,
when he attacked the land of Egypt.
I heard a voice I did not recognize.
6It said: “I removed the burden from his shoulder;
his hands were released from holding the basket.
7In your distress you called out and I rescued you.
I answered you from a dark thundercloud.
I tested you at the waters of Meribah. (Selah)
8I said, ‘Listen, my people!
I will warn you.
O Israel, if only you would obey me!
9There must be no other god among you.
You must not worship a foreign god.
10I am the Lord, your God,
the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.’
11But my people did not obey me;
Israel did not submit to me.
12I gave them over to their stubborn desires;
they did what seemed right to them.
13If only my people would obey me!
If only Israel would keep my commands!
14Then I would quickly subdue their enemies,
and attack their adversaries.”
15(May those who hate the Lord cower in fear before him.
May they be permanently humiliated.)
16“I would feed Israel the best wheat,
and would satisfy your appetite with honey from the rocky cliffs.”(NET Bible)
8:9 Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10He said, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.
11“Now the parable means this: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in a time of testing fall away. 14As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.
16“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand so that those who come in can see the light. 17For nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light. 18So listen carefully, for whoever has will be given more, but whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
In regard to the Church Luther says in the same writing: “The Church also has no power to establish new divine promises of grace, as some foolishly speak, that everything which the Church ordains is of no lesser authority than that which is ordained of God, since she is guided by the Holy Spirit. For the Church comes into being through the word of promise through faith … God’s Word stands incomparably high above the Church, in this Word she, as a creature, cannot resolve, order, or execute but can only be resolved, ordered, and carried out. For who generates his father, who has rst called his Creator into being?” (18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.