Luke 8:1-15 “The Secrets of the Kingdom”
A secret is simply the act of keeping valuable information away from other people. If no valuable information is being hidden, then no real secret exists. For instance, you all might not have known that I had pancakes for breakfast. Of course, who cares at all what I had for breakfast? That is not a secret.
Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, launched his sports car into space this last week aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket. There is a secret message on the circuit board inside the car. It says “Made on earth by humans.” Isn’t that a great secret message! Only humans would be silly enough to launch a convertible into the vacuum of space! Now the whole universe knows how silly we truly are!
Or do they? You see this secret depends on unknown alien species being able to read English. Since we have never met said species of ET, how can we know if they even have eyes?
Another interesting thing about this space convertible being launched into space is that the dashboard radio is playing a song out in space: David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Someone forgot that sound does not travel through the vacuum of space! That is one of the reasons astronauts do not just open their masks and talk to each in space. The alien who finds the car will wonder, “Why are their four vibrating magnets on paper disks?” for that is all sound speakers are in space. And again, what if the alien has no ears?
Jesus said it. WE must have ears to listen!
About secrets, what if the information that is kept secret is about a distant power that was about to take over the planet. That would seem to be a much more profound secret than what I had for breakfast, right?
I know that you think that Jesus was just telling a sweet little story, a parable, to the people about some farmer who seems to have trouble controlling where he plants his bean fields. I do not know in fact if this is about beans. In English we have the saying “I could not give a hill of beans about something,” meaning it does not matter. We do not know what kinds of seeds are being sown in the parable. It just does not matter. It does not matter because the story is not about beans.
Jesus himself is clear that this is about the “secret of the Kingdom of God.” Look at verse ten: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God.” Okay, everybody lean in now because here is the secret: This seemingly innocent parable is God’s secret plan to take over the world! It is not about beans at all.
Jesus goes on to rightly state that with this secret, people will hear it and will not even perceive it. They will listen and will not even understand. That is why it is in a parable. People who are in “the know” will understand and perceive what is coming, others simply will not get it. Those are the best kinds of secrets to tell! They are open secrets.
Well, let us get right on down to conquering the planet, shall we? Yes, I know that I am German, and that perhaps in light of my ancestry I should tone it down a bit, but I am so excited. You see, we were just reading along in our Bibles from the Gospel of Luke when we happened to stumble upon this secret plan to take over the world. Okay, go get the secret FISA warrant and wiretap the church office! This plan can work!
The plan starts with the “honest and good heart.” We can read that in last verse of the Scripture for this morning. The honest and good heart is the very base of our Christian faith. That is the launching site of the first wave of the coming Kingdom of God.
At the very start of this section of Scripture, we hear Luke mention some women: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. These were the first waves of the coming Kingdom of God in the time of Jesus himself. Please recall that WAVES is the acronym from the US Navy for “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.” The first women in the Navy were called “WAVES.”
Women have always played a critical role in this secret plan to take over the world. Remember, the plan starts with “honest and good hearts,” and here we see a list of such in the early church. Maybe Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her, but she was thereafter of such good heart that she provided for the ministry out of her own means.
After Christ’s death and resurrection, we know that all the men went into hiding. John 20:19 shows how the men were afraid and locked themselves in a house away from everybody else. At the same time, we see Mary Magdalene running around telling everybody the Good News. The coming Kingdom of God does not start with burly men marching through the streets; it comes with the good heart of a woman whose life has been touched and changed by Jesus Christ! Mary and these other women are the first WAVES of the coming Kingdom! They are the ones out sowing the good news.
Let us, therefore, focus on this parable that is the secret plan of the coming Kingdom. Jesus starts out by telling us about the not-so-simple act of sowing seed. I think most of us here on the Westside of Kauai have in fact grown our own vegetable gardens and can confirm that sowing seed is not easy. It takes a lot of skill. We have companies here on the Westside of Kauai that are seed producers, which call themselves “Agri-Sciences.” It really is science!
One time I planted so many vegetable seeds in my garden, but nothing came up. This really confused me. I checked the dates on the seed packets I had used. I measured the moisture in the soil again. The soil temperature was good. I had covered all the seeds under chicken wire baskets so the chickens would not scratch them out. I could not figure out why the seeds had not come up after all the work I had gone through in preparing the soil, building furrows, carefully sowing, and then guarding against chickens. Then, I noticed that ants were crawling up my legs. I looked down to see that the ants were everywhere carrying all the seed out of the ground. Well, I found their mound nearby and that was that! After sowing new seed once again I had vegetables.
Jesus in his parable talked about “hard places” to sow seed. Who in their right mind would try to grow a garden in the middle of the highway? Why would anyone put seed there? What would happen? Here, the chickens would eat it right away, and a few of those chickens would probably be sacrificed in the process. Literally, sowing seed in the middle of the road is “for the birds.”
We must realize that planting seeds of faith among hard-hearted people might be “for the birds.” This is a part of the mystery of the Kingdom of God: not everyone is going to accept God’s amazing Grace. Wait a minute—Jesus can cast out demons, heal diseases, create all sorts of miracles and even bring himself back to life, but he cannot plant the seeds of faith in a hard-hearted person? That is right. God cannot force you to love somebody else, or even to love God God’s self!
Remember the movie “Bruce Almighty” with Jim Carrey? What is one miracle that God tells Bruce he cannot do? He cannot force someone to love him. That is the whole plot of the movie as he wants his affection for a young lady returned! Jim Carey cannot do it. God cannot do it.
There is just an aside I want to add to this idea that hard-hearted people may find themselves outside the Kingdom of God. This is just an observation. Some people’s lives have been really hard. They have in many ways every right to have become hard-hearted. I do not blame someone who has been victimized, brutalized, or traumatized that their hearts are now hard. And, I will always try to reach out to those for God’s own sake. This is what the Bible tells us to do. We are to reach out to the oppressed. This is exactly what Jesus did!
What I am talking about are those whose lives have already been so easy, and yet their hearts are hard. I speak of those who refuse to forgive others. I speak of those who delight in the suffering of others. I speak of those who have received so much love and grace in their lives but will refuse to give it to others. When you offer such a one the free gift of grace and God’s love, be ready that the seed will hit hard ground.
I really do not have to explain everything in the parable that Jesus tells us because Jesus himself explains it. Some seeds land among the thorns, etc. However, I want us to consider what Jesus states in the end. This is the greatest secret of the kingdom of God. The one seed lands in the good soil, that is the right heart, and it reproduces one hundred fold! That is an amazing growth rate. If every Christian were to create another one hundred believers—well just think about it! That is a lot. That would take over the world in no time.
Just for fun, however, let us do a little different math. Let us say that you and I just are able to win just ten souls each to the Kingdom of God, but then we apply the one hundredfold idea as an exponent to that ten. We now have 10 to the 100th power, which is called a “googol.” That number represents more than all the atoms in the universe! Math is cool! That is the secret. The kingdom of God will take over with just one seed.