Sunday’s Sermon

Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 16 (Rev. Stan Temme)

Day of Pentecost – May 23 (Rev. Stan Temme)

Trinity Sunday – May 30 (Rev. Stan Temme)

Second Sunday after Pentecost – June 6 (Rev. Stan Temme)

The Most Powerful Seed

            Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Our text is from the Old Testament reading.  The LORD God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Here ends our text.

            It’s been said, “The most powerful thing in the world is a seed.”  Now this can mean several things.  It could refer to the seed of a plant.  Within the husk of that tiny seed is all the genetic information to sprout a wheat stalk, a rose bush, or an oak tree.  Many seeds together can grow a field of ripening grain, a garden of flowers and shrubs, or a forest that covers the land as far as the eye can see.  Seeds can grow into plants that lift concrete sidewalks and split rocks.  A single seed can produce thirty, sixty, a hundred times what was sown to feed the earth, man and beast.  But besides the power of plant seed, there’s also the power of the seed of words and ideas.  Words and ideas sow the seed of belief or doubt.  Just a few words carry the information which can grow into rebellion and revolution, the falling of old kingdoms and the rising of new.  These seeds can create but also destroy.

            THE most powerful seed of this type is the power of the Word of God.  By his Word, God created the heavens and the earth.  On the third day of creation, God even created all the plant seeds by his Word.  There was nothing but dirt, rock, and minerals, but God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind.”  These seeds sprouted and covered the earth, producing more seed according to their kind.  Two of these seeds sprouted and grew into trees.  By God’s Word, one became the tree of life from which one could eat and live forever, and the other became the tree of knowledge of good and evil from which one would eat and die.  But God had another idea.  On the sixth day he created the man and the woman.  God told them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”  The seed of the man would unite with the seed of the woman.  Both seeds carried all the genetic information to produce another human being.  Adam and Eve reproduced according to their kind, not only physically but also spiritually in the image of God.  Yes, the good seed of God’s Word was powerful indeed.

            But there was another powerful seed that grew from God’s creation.  This seed was good, but he became rotten of his own accord.  The devil was a bad seed.  With his lying words from the mouth of the serpent, the devil sowed the seeds of doubt into the hearts of Adam and Eve.  “Did God really say?”  Those bad seeds grew into sinful desires of coveting, rebellion, and idolatry.  They ate the forbidden fruit from the cursed tree, and their eyes were opened to know evil.  Their shame caused them to look inward on themselves and away from God.  The image of God was lost, and they bore the rotten fruit of sin, selfishness, and sacrilege.  They became bad seeds which reproduced bad fruit.

This transformation from a good seed to a bad seed is evident in our reading from Genesis today.  Instead of joining God and walking with him in the garden in the cool of the day, Adam and Eve were afraid of God and hid themselves from the presence of the LORD.  When God gave Adam a chance to repent and confess his sin, Adam first blamed Eve and then he blamed the LORD.  “The woman, whom you gave me, gave me the fruit of the tree, the tree which you created, and I ate.”  When God gave Eve the same opportunity, she blamed the serpent and indirectly God.  “The serpent, the one you made, deceived me, and I ate.”  Eating the fruit of the forbidden tree reproduced bad seeds in their heart which bore bad fruit.

            Even worse, though, Adam and Eve now reproduced, not according to their godly kind, but according to their sinful kind.  Yes, the seed of the man combined with the seed of the woman to produce a human being.  But now the sinful seed of man produced, not a child of God, but a sinful child of the devil, who doubted and hated God.  The bad seed of your parents was also planted in your heart.  In shame, you ran away from God, and when confronted with your sin, you blamed others and even blamed God.  Out of your heart, you sowed seeds of unrighteousness – selfishness, anger, greed, idolatry, and rebellion against the true God.  But you also reaped the fruit of God’s condemnation, punishment, and death.  One day, your body will be planted in the ground to rot and decay.  Yes, by those powerful seeds of doubt in the garden of Eden, the kingdom of God fell, and the kingdom of the devil rose.

            But immediately after Adam and Eve’s fall, God sowed the seed of hope.  The LORD God said to the devil, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Here, it’s significant that the LORD doesn’t say that the devil and a man or the devil’s seed and a man’s seed would be hostile enemies.  But instead, God said there would be enmity between the devil and a woman and enmity between the devil’s seed and a woman’s seed.  Who are the seed and offspring of the devil?  It’s all those who believe his lies and seeds of unbelief.  It’s the demons who rebelled against God and all unbelievers who doubt God’s Word.  Who is the seed of the woman?  It must be a human being according to the woman’s kind, but not conceived by the seed of a man.  What would happen to the woman’s seed?  The devil would bruise his heel and wound him, but the seed of the woman would crush the devil’s head, giving him a mortal wound.  How could a mere human being overcome the mightiest evil angel?  Like Adam, he couldn’t.  Therefore, he wouldn’t only be a man or even a powerful good angel.  He must be the almighty God.  The seed of the woman must be divinely conceived.  He’d be both God and man.  The LORD God is prophesying the incarnation and virgin birth of the Son of God who would crush the devil’s head, overthrow his kingdom, and restore the kingdom of God.  God sowed the seeds of hope into the hearts of Adam and Eve by promising a Messiah, a Savior, who is our Lord Jesus Christ.

            In our Gospel reading today, we see that the seed of the woman Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit, has sprouted and grown into a man.  Jesus is cultivating and sowing the seeds of his Word.  By his Word, he’s casting out demons and casting out the lies of the devil.  By his Word, he’s planting the seeds of faith in the true God into the hearts of men.  Because of his sowing, though, the seed of the devil is hostile against him.  His family went out to seize him and said, “He’s out of his mind.”  The scribes said, “He’s possessed by the devil, and by the prince of demons he casts out demons.”  They blasphemed the Holy Spirit who conceived him.  But Jesus defeats them with his Word.  “How can Satan cast out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man.”  Jesus is beginning a revolution against the kingdom of the devil and is causing it to topple.  He’s binding Satan and plundering his kingdom.  The devil is lying on the ground, gagged and bound, with Jesus’ foot on his head.

            Of course, the seed and offspring of the devil make one final rally against their arch enemy.  They arrest Jesus, bind him, and accuse him of blaspheming God.  They crucify him and pound nails into his hands and feet.  They bruise his heel, and he dies.  Jesus is buried in a tomb and planted into the ground to rot and decay.

            But the incarnate Word of God is a mighty seed.  Though his enemies bruised his heel, it wasn’t a mortal wound.  Jesus’ body doesn’t decay, but it sprouts.  He rises from the dead and springs forth from the earth.  He breaks the bonds of death and steps out of the tomb.  He steps on the head of the devil and crushes it with a mortal wound.  The kingdom of the devil falls, and the kingdom of God rises.  Jesus ascends to the right hand of God the Father to reign over heaven and earth.  His kingdom comes.

            His kingdom comes to you when Jesus sows the seed of his Word into your heart.  And that read and spoken and preached Word is a powerful seed.  It sprouts and splits the rocks of your hardened heart.  You were conceived in sin and born a child of the devil, but now, by the seed of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit conceives a new spirit within you.  The devil is cast out, and you’re reborn a child of your heavenly Father.  By baptism, Jesus waters your faith in him to make it sprout.  By the Lord’s Supper, he fertilizes and nourishes that faith with his body and blood to make it grow.  You don’t run from God and blame others.  You confess your sin, receive his forgiveness, and walk with God again.  And then you reproduce according to your kind.  You plant the seed of the Word of God when you speak the powerful Word of the Gospel to others.  Like your heart once was, their hearts are as dead as dirt.  But the seed of belief multiplies thirty, sixty, a hundredfold.  It multiplies and fills the earth.  The kingdom of God comes to others as Jesus reigns in the hearts of men.

            However, there will come a day when your mortal body wilts, withers, and dies.  Your spirit will rise to heaven, but your body will be planted in the ground where it decomposes and decays.  But on the Last Day, the mighty Lord Jesus will come again to gather the fruits of his labor.  By his powerful Word, he’ll call you by name from the grave.  Your new body will sprout from its old shell and husk.  Burial vaults will split apart, and tombstones will be lifted up as you rise from the dead with a new and glorified body.  The devil and his offspring of unbelievers will be cast into the fire of hell, but you and all the children of God will ascend into heaven to his kingdom of glory.  And there in the new paradise, growing beside the river flowing from the throne of God, is the tree of life.  As God always desired, you’ll take and eat from the tree of life and live in his kingdom forever.

Yes, indeed, a seed is a powerful thing.  The mightiest seed of all is the seed of the woman, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the most powerful seed of all is the seed of his Word.  Amen.

            The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.