Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Another in a series of Parables of the Kingdom.
Do you ever get tired of pulling weeds? I do. The job never seems to end during the growing season. One can wonder where they all come from. Sometimes in my zeal to get rid of them I have also pulled up good plants or demolished them with my Weed-eater. Life can be like that too. We may wonder where all the bad stuff comes from that infests the garden of life. It seems to never end. At times we may also wish we could just root it all out, spread some powerful spiritual herbicide that would eradicate the “weeds” of evil that keep growing right in the midst of the “wheat” of God’s goodness. But this little story that Jesus tells with its agricultural imagery reminds us that “God’s field is the world.” It’s up to God and not to us to take care of such things, to make things right, because lots of times we really don’t know what we’re doing. We could do more harm than good like a Weed-Eater run rampant. The world is God’s. It is his field, not yours or mine. We can never have the broader view of things that God has. The old spiritual song says, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Indeed he does. We dare never forget that.
The reality is that in this world there are “weeds” among the “wheat.” Bad things happen. People rebel against God and against goodness. Forces of evil are at work in God’s good world. The “sons of the evil one” are at work, says Jesus. We may look at things going on in the world, in our personal world and in the world at large, and ask ourselves, “what is going on here? Where did these weeds come from?” In that, we are like the workers in the parable. We wonder. We question. We worry. We get stressed out. We get scared. And those “weeds” are not just “out there” somewhere, but they are “in here”, that is, in you and me. There are those sudden outbursts of rage, those intense feelings of desire for what is forbidden or destructive, that coldness and indifference, that compulsion to do what we should not do and the failure to do what we should. Sometimes we are surprised and shocked at how suddenly and without warning such things will spring up.
What can we do? In the parable, Jesus is urging patience. God will do the weeding in his field. We may long for a life free from cares and woes, free from trouble and wrong, free from people who bother us and upset us. But we have to wait and reserve judgment. The servants ask, “do you want us to go out and get rid of those weeds?” We might expect an answer something like, “Yes! Get to work!” But the answer is a very firm and definite “NO! . . . lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.” We often can’t tell the difference. We can’t read the hearts of anyone. We can’t interpret motives. We often don’t understand.
Reserve judgment. Wait. If we think it’s our mission to cleanse the world, to cleanse the church, or even to cleanse ourselves of all sin, all the wrong, all the bad-stuff, we are very mistaken. There is only one Savior, and it’s not I, not we, not you, not anyone but Jesus. So much terror, misery, havoc has been wrought by religious zealots through the centuries. The same mentality that drives such people to think they are doing God’s service by killing thousands of people is the mentality that wants to bring about God’s rule by force, by legislation, by coercion. But Jesus says, “NO!” That’s not your job. He sows the seed of his Word in us through the power of his Holy Spirit. He converts and convinces by the power of his cross of sacrifice and atoning love. In dealing with people, don’t use the scythe and the hammer. Use the towel and the cross, the towel that Jesus took in washing the disciples’ feet and the cross upon which he died for the evil in the world and the evil in us. God will bring about a joyous harvest in his own good time. The Seed of the Word will bear fruit in us and so many others. Ultimately he will get rid of the weeds when he comes in glory.
Meanwhile, the Psalmist says, “Do not fret yourself because of evil-doers.” (Ps. 37:1) God knows what he is doing, and he is always doing something. “The righteous will shine.” Glory will come. Light will shine. Hopes will not be misplaced. Be thankful that God is patient with you. He does not just yank you up and throw you away. He has redeemed you in Christ. He will, in his own good time, do the same for his whole creation. Meanwhile, be patient and trust.
Pastor Ron Flentgen