Yesterday, my wife and I celebrated the 22nd anniversary of our marriage. 22 years of graduate school and moves across the nation, of children and creating our idea of what a home ought to be. 22 years of pets and home repairs and broken-down cars. 22 years of ups and downs, of joys and disappointments, of boring, aimless moments and times of great adventure and wonder. As I was pondering all this, I thought back to the day we got married. I can still see her clear as day. How beautiful she was in that gown.

When I drive into my neighborhood, I pass by not one but two cars that have the same exact decal on their windows. It is not some political statement or baseball team, but a simple graphic saying, “He is greater than I.” I have seen this same image on other vehicles, on coffee mugs and last year at the Jiu Jitsu World Championships in Las Vegas I saw it tattooed on the side of a man’s neck.

One of the struggles I have as the pastor of a congregation as I attempt to lead, or shepherd the flock, through times of great turmoil and confusion deals with the public face of the ministry itself. On just the surface level of things, the stuff most people see, should I be the calm strong voice of unmoved determination, assuring everyone that it will be alright? Should I just mimic the words of the rest of society and say, “This too shall pass,” or, “We’re all in this together,”

A fisherman casts his net in a wide arc upon the service of the water. As it begins to sink below the surface the boat slowly moves to trawl the net under the surface of the sea. It creates a large pocket like the mouth of a whale as it scoops up everything in its path. Eventually, when it seems weighted and full, or at least the set time has passed, they begin to haul in their load.

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.

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison (January 30, 1787), discussed the dangers of government and the balance of liberty and oppression. He warned against a government of wolves over sheep and famously said, “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” which can be translated as, “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” Or as we hear it more often these days, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”