Sermon for Pentecost 7 – July 19, 2020
+ 7th Sunday after Pentecost – July 19th, 2020 +
Series A: Isaiah 44:6-8; Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Beautiful Savior Lutheran
“The Parable of the Weeds”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Chances are that when you pick up a new book and look at the dust jacket or when a friend recommends a new show to watch on Netflix, you ask, “What’s the story about?”
Jesus’ parables are no different. A sower, a field, good seeds, wheat and weeds, enemies, servants, and harvest time. What’s this parable all about?
It is a story about many things: trust, patience, and the Lord’s deliverance; the problem of evil and the end times. For such a short parable, there’s quite a lot going on.
But the thread that holds it all together is the Lord’s patience and mercy, his longsuffering. You O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Keep those words in mind as our Lord explains the parable in more detail.
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. The man is the Son of Man, Jesus. The field is the world, and the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom.
25 but while his men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. Jesus tells us that the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.
27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” The harvest, Jesus says, is close of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age.
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Jesus’ explanation sounds pretty straight forward. But did you notice that Jesus interprets every part of the parable with two notable exceptions? He tells us what everything means in the parable – sower, seed, field, weeds, enemy, harvest, and burn pile for the weeds. But Jesus says nothing about the servants or their questions to the farm owner. There’s a gap in Jesus’ interpretation.
This is the genius of Jesus’ storytelling in the parables. Jesus wants us to see ourselves in that gap. Not merely as someone who reads this parable casually, but to see ourselves as the servants/farm workers in the story. The servants ask: Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
It’s an age-old question. We’ve asked it ourselves many times. Why is there so much evil in the world? If God is good why does wickedness seem to run amuck? Why are there pandemics and riots and racism and such senseless violence? Why are police officers and 2 year olds being shot in our city streets? Why is the world full of so much suffering, pain, and cruelty. And the list of whys could go on. What’s going on, Lord? Why are there so many weeds?
An enemy hath done this. Our Lord creates. The devil destroys. The Lord wants only to be gracious and merciful. The devil wants only chaos and death. Jesus sows good seed. The devil sows weeds.
Jesus’ words are a sobering reminder that in this life, there is no utopia. For now we groan along with creation, as Paul says, and eagerly await the resurrection. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. As we live in this world, or until Jesus comes again, this world is like the field of wheat and weeds, full of good and evil.
The servants ask the next logical question. ‘Do you want us then to go and gather up them up?’ So, what are we going to do about all these wicked weeds, Lord?”
The answer is a jaw-dropping, shocking surprise. “Let both grow together until the harvest.” The Greek word there could be translated “let it be”, or permit it. It’s the same word used for forgiveness. What does our Lord say to do with all the wickedness in the world? Let it be for now. Forgive it.
If it were up to us, if it were my farm, we’d probably burn it all down, pull up the weeds and wheat together and throw it all on the burn pile. See the problem? If we were in charge of the field, we’d have made a mess of it all a long, long time ago. If sinners were placed in charge of separating wheat from weeds, how would we know which is which and who is who? As Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said, “the line of good and evil runs through all our hearts.”
So, what do we do about all the weeds? Ignore it all? No. Lament it. Call it for what it is. Repent of our own weedy, sinful hearts, and look to Jesus, the farm owner. He only sows good seed. And that’s exactly what he has done for you. He loves you. Forgives you. Shows mercy to you. He is patient, longsuffering.
Remember, this is a story about Jesus, the Sower, the Son of Man who came into the field of this world for you. He let all the weeds of the enemy surround him, lay ahold of him, and nail him to a tree. He bound himself to all the wickedness of our sinful, weedy hearts as and died in our place on the cross. And as he hung there for you, he endured the fiery furnace of God’s wrath that we might shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father.
Remember the words of the Psalms: You O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
And that’s what this story is all about.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.