Matthew 13:24-30 and 36- 43
Last week we looked at the Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13:1-9 and 13:18-23.
That parable looked at how when seeds fall on poor soil or the path or are suffocated by thorns healthy growth does not happen. But when fertile soil and seed and sun and rain and good farming combine you can get an amazing harvest.
Today’s parable of the weeds from Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43 looks at a similar but different scenario. Now let us recap the context; it is the same as with the parable of the sower, Jesus is sat in a boat as Matthew tells us in Matthew 13 vs 2
“And great crowds gathered around him so that he got into the boat and sat down and the whole crowd stood on the beach.
In today’s parable, Jesus tells the story to the crowd from the boat and then returns to the house possibly the disciple Matthew's house to do some in depth teaching of what the parable means. Lesson One therefore is that we would be wise to do similar to preach on Sundays or mid-week, To listen and engage with sermons and then for those who want to go deeper to as it were “go back to the house” and get into some form of discipleship class.
Let me ask you a question and myself. Have you ever in your family or network of friends or work, or Church thought “you know what If only I do not have situation A or person X Y or Z in my family, in my network of friends , work place, Church or PCC or homegroup or choir, you fill in the gaps then life would be great. I mean “ It or they are the problem, not me, so they should go!””
Well if we listen with open eyes and open ears and open hearts and souls the parable of the weeds can tell us something, so lesson Two may be this “you and I need to learn “patient persevering” “keeping on going in challenging situations” .
Situation A or person B may be a pain ( and so are we!) but actually God has allowed them (and us) to be there for a reason and I need to ask God for grace and patience to live with them,or work with them, or it,and leave the outcome to God. Also, I possibly do not have the big picture, but the good news is that God does. Let us go into this in more detail.
In the parable of the weeds Jesus sets out another agricultural lesson, When I was 17 and at school my summer job was to go up and down the rows of wheat at a local farm plucking out the shoots of wild oats, you could see them easily they were taller than the wheat which was bread grade wheat so the oats had to be cleared, bundled and burnt so that the wild seeds would not re-infect the excellent wheat fields.
The problem Matthew explains in chapter 13 is similar but different, these weeds have been deliberately sown by a malicious neighbour possibly with a grudge and a desire for revenge. Jesus explains the weeds which were probably darnel were deliberately sown by the enemy, it is like a plot for Midsummer Murders, no murders, but certainly a lot of agricultural damage gets done. Agricultural historians tell us that this was not that uncommon when bad neighbours would in the dark of night sow “Darnel” in a neighbour’s wheat field, it looked like wheat but was not wheat. It sounded and looked like a duck it quacked like a duck but was not a duck!
So what to do? well the wise landowner calms his servants or slaves down and says " look leave the weeds till harvest Then bundle them into bundles and burn the weeds, but put the wheat in my barns, at harvest time".
Now in the telling of the parable of the weeds Jesus returns to the house probably of Matthew for an exposition or opening up of what the parable means. Here is lesson Three.
The one who sows the seed in Jesus the Son of Man
The field is the world
The good seed is the sons of the Kingdom
The weeds are the sons of the evil one
And the enemy who sows them is the devil an indication that growth in discipleship is a spiritual battle (see Ephesians 6:11ff) not just one we see with our eyes.
CS Lewis said :
“Enemy occupied territory that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you’re really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends; that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us going” (Page 46 Broadcast talks 1943 London Geoffrey Bless .The Centenary Press The Strand London)
So as Hebrews says we keep meeting to worship (Hebrews 10:25)
As 2 Corinthians 5 says we have courage “ So we are always full of courage”
There will be a day says Jesus when the Angels will gather everyone together and then there wil be a judgement. In the West we get scared of verses about Judgement but in Bolivia and Colombia and Kenya and Sudan they love these verses about Judgement,as at the end of our parable of the weeds, because it gives suffering Christians the confidence that one day the God of the whole earth shall put everything right. But we are not to try and be judges ourselves in the way that God is and “put things right ourselves” That does not mean we do not judge right from wrong, but we leave final judgement to God,
“Vengeance is mine and the recompense” Deuteronomy 32:35
“Beloved says St Paul in Romans 12:19 "Never avenge yourselves but leave it to the Lord on the contrary if your enemy is hungry feed him if thirsty give him something to drink”
Jesus says the Son of Man will send out his angels:
and they will gather in all who have caused sin and all law breakers and throw them in the fiery furnace!
So, the God of the whole earth will do right, this is good news not bad news. It is what all the psalms say the wicked will have an end and the righteous too, but their end is a new beginning!
Weeping and gnashing of teeth is what people do in high degrees of stress, people do this in the face of great pain or grief ( I have seen it in hospitals) and that is Jesus’s vivid picture of judgment, but he took our place, by his blood, he died for us (Ephesians 2:4-10) so that we would not have to go through this great pain at Judgement day. It is in him that we put our trust afresh today. At one time “doom paintings” like this one in a Coventry Church (see below) were popular but few remain today as its seems a “medieval view of earth and heaven” was seen as an over reaction to Plague etc (the puritans actually got rid of quite a few I think!) but the realities they paint are real; In the Vatican’s Sistine chapel there is Michelangelo’s painting of the last judgement of Christ, thousands flock to see it. All these two artists are doing in Rome and in Coventry is as best as they can, painting the biblical realities that the Gospels and letters in The New Testament (see 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12) so clearly spell out. We should rejoice there will be judgement it is good news, but if we know Christ there should be no fear of these verses. They remain in our bibles and in art history as helpful warnings against falling away from God. He will manage the final Judgment and Christ is our Judge and our Saviour too.