Today we are going to look at another great parable of our Lord, a parable that uses something we can understand, something of our physical world to explain or reveal more about the working of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Parable of the Weeds, as it is called, is also another parable Jesus unpacks for us. He interprets the details, so we know who all the players are in the story. As we look at this parable today, I think we will find it to be a bold and crucial reminder of the active rule and reign of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. As any good farmer he plants good seed and waits eagerly for the growth and harvest of his labors. But we are told, in this kingdom there is an enemy, one who sneaks in under the cloak of darkness and sows weeds in the field. As the seed begins to sprout it all looks good, it is promising and joyful to watch. But over time as the plants mature you being to notice they are not all the same. Some of these plants are the product of the good seed and some are clearly weeds. The servants of the master are perplexed. I mean, surely if this is the Kingdom of Heaven, if this is the work of the Lord then there should be good seed in the field, but they see all these weeds. They turn and ask, “Did you not sow good seed in your filed?” The master says, “An enemy has done this.” So, they ask if they ought to go and pull them out. Surprisingly, he says no. He is concerned that in the rooting out of the weeds the good plants will be pulled-up as well. Instead, they are to let them grow together until the harvest and at that time the reapers will gather the weeds and bind them into bundles to be burned while the good wheat will be brought into the storehouse.
Our Lord makes it clear who the players are in this parable, so we do not get it confused. He says the sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. It is Himself, the Son of God who comes to take away the sins of the world. The field in the parable is the world and the good seed is the children of the Kingdom. The weeds, then, are the sons of the evil one and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are the angels and the end locales for the wheat and the weeds are heaven and hell. Everything is well and good. We all get the point of the parable, but it is the question that the servants ask which really sticks with us. If the parable is telling us about the Kingdom of Heaven, how it looks here on earth, then this question is crucial. For, I think if we are honest with ourselves, this is the lingering question we all have as we look around at the work of our Lord’s Kingdom. Did you not sow good seed in your field?
This lingering question is one we all know and feel ourselves. When we look around the Church today, when we take in the landscape that is modern Christianity, we may even dare to look up toward Heaven and ask our Lord, “Did you not sow good seed?” Let us be honest, it is only too easy for us to spot the weeds in the Kingdom. We can do so somewhat broadly by just pointing out the other denominations who seem so intent on twisting and perverting the Word of God. We read what God reveals to us in His Word. We are ready and willing to trust in it and then there are other churches that simply say, “No.” No, the Word is not going to be binding to them. They make God’s “yes” into a “no” and His “no” into a “yes.” They turn it all upside down and we are tempted to say, “Look this isn’t the good seed. This stuff is poisonous. This is a weed of the worst kind. We ought to tear it up. We ought to get rid of it.” But no, we just let them grow right alongside the good stuff.
Of course, we do this within a particular congregation, within the body of Christ itself. We look around and see the people that gather together. We know their stories, their struggles, and their failures. We see the good seed our Lord has planted. We see those faithful and righteous believers we want to emulate, that we want to hold up as pillars of the faithful. But then there are those spurious characters, those deviants and hypocrites who sit right alongside of us in our Lord’s house. We know their sins. We hear the gossip and the rumors that swirl about them. There are the liars, the backstabbers, the cheats, the thieves, the adulterers, and the fornicators. There are those sitting beside you in church who have hatred in their hearts and doubts so profound they would scare the children.
Clearly the enemy has been hard at work. He has been defiling the harvest field with all sorts of vile and wicked seeds. In addition, he has caused these weeds to be the driving force of division and anger within the Body of Christ. We look at the Kingdom of Heaven, as we have come to know it, and we see something that infuriates us. It is a field where people get hurt, where selfishness and pride stand more prominent than compassion and forgiveness. Where people are more concerned with protecting the idea of the organizations than the message that ought to flow from it. And together we cry out, “Did you not sow good seed in your field?”
We would love nothing more than to pull them up, to get them out of the field altogether. We could kick them out and lock the doors behind them. Perhaps we tell them they are welcome back if and when they start behaving more like wheat and less like weeds. Oh, we would be swift in our judgment, would we not? It would be a majestic field if only we were the ones who did the weeding, but we are not.
I mean, what if you were wrong? What if in your zeal to rip up the weed you tore up one of our Lord’s precious grains of wheat? What if, in your desire to make the Church of God pure and holy, here and now, you snuff out the smoldering wick or break the bruised reed? What if that one individual you were so sure was an outsider was one of those little ones whose faith was barely hanging on by a thread. They were full of doubts and had a life history that ought to rule them out of being part of the Kingdom of Heaven, but still they had hope; a faint and slight hope that the promises of Christ might apply to them. What if in your judgment you tore those small weak roots and destroyed what our Lord had planted?
No, our Lord would have them grow together. He banks everything on His Gospel, on the promises of life and salvation. Let them grow. Let the Kingdom be filled with weeds, with hypocrites, and with unbelievers. For the harvest day is coming, the day when He will send the angels to separate out the wheat from the weeds. He will judge, He will separate, and He will punish. This is crucial for us. This is important to remember as we cry out “Did you not sow good seed in your field?” It is the gift of rest, the gift of peace, and the gift of hope. The quality of the field, the determining of the seed, is not ours to judge but rather we rejoice in the One who sows, the One who tends the field, the One who will reap and separate out the good seed from the bad.
This parable describes to us the Kingdom of Heaven, not to give us the tools to do the weeding on our own, but to trust in the One who is Lord over it all. Here we are reminded that until the harvest day there remains hope. Let us stop picking between weeds and wheat and start rejoicing in the Word of hope and life that still pours out. It is a Word who declares one more time, “You are welcome here. You are loved. You are forgiven.”