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June 11, 2023

The Heart of the Good News

Pastor KJ Kim

Genesis 25: 19-34; Matthew 13: 18-23

In today’s passage, the tradition blames Esau for his being stupidly propelled by his hunger and his readiness to satisfy his appetite, and his willingness to give up long-term privilege for the sake of his immediate stomach full.

We might say he is a consumer, and he wants it all now, right now! So, from this birthright transaction, the tradition reflects on a choice between immediate stuff and long-term benefit that is much more valuable. And we stand before this text again that this is still the big issue in our world, long-term well-being or short-term satisfaction.

The same issue shows up differently in the parable of Jesus. The primary concern of the parable is not the Sower or the seed, but the soil, the capacity of the soil to receive the seed, a readiness to hear and respond and host the truth of the gospel so that it will grow the excellent grain of a different life in the world.

Jesus’s story is mainly about bad soil, and three phrases are piled up here that explain “The cares of the world.” First, Jesus means social expectation and social requirement of doing well in a demanding culture. It can be everything we want to be noticed, affirmed, and validated, or at least not left behind.

The second phrase in Jesus’s teaching of the parable about thorns is even harder, “The lure of wealth.” Greed is the big assumption that we ought to have more, that more is better, and that we will be better with more. What happens in a society of greed is that the poor disappear from the screen, and we often try to cover or justify ourselves into thinking that “they are too lazy, so they deserve to be poor; it is what it is; once again, bless their hearts.”

Lastly, Jesus says that such care of the world and such lure of wealth will “choke the word.” The reference is to briers in the field where the farmer plants seed for a crop. Briers will choke everything, and nothing can grow.

Yes, every day, there is always choosing: soup or birthright; briers or abundance; Flesh or spirit.
These choices are always the issues that God puts in front of us. We are the people who gather around Jesus and who knows that our life belongs with the neighbors and people near and far. And we are the church, which is a body of people who is to be intentional about the purpose of our life.

But we still live in a world where the word of God is choked, and we often arrive at a time when we cannot breathe anymore. And the briers will have come, and we will be as stupid as Esau, because we are hungry for immediate satiation. We can choose otherwise, just as Jesus did--which is an upside-down way and goes against our traditional way of living—the one that brings common abundance and well-being for the people of God and for the kingdom of God on Earth.

Thanks be to God.

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