My wife and I took a couple weeks off last month and went to Denmark. Guess what we found everywhere when we got back to our home. Weeds! Weeds, weeds, weeds, and more weeds. A reality for any gardener or farmer, those pesky weeds keep showing up. I don’t know about you, but the Kramers hate weeds! We work pretty hard to keep our garden and our lawn weed free. We are always pulling, spraying, clipping, and complaining about them. Get rid of those weeds! Where do they come from? We don’t like living with weeds. My wife and I took a couple weeks off last month and went to Denmark. Guess what we found everywhere when we got back to our home. Weeds! Weeds, weeds, weeds, and more weeds. A reality for any gardener or farmer, those pesky weeds keep showing up. I don’t know about you, but the Kramers hate weeds! We work pretty hard to keep our garden and our lawn weed free. We are always pulling, spraying, clipping, and complaining about them. Get rid of those weeds! Where do they come from? We don’t like living with weeds.
Jesus told a peculiar story about weeds one day. We find it in Matthew 13. There was this farmer who sowed good seed in his field in hopes of a good wheat crop. One night, an enemy came and threw weed seeds into it. When it all started sprouting up weeks later, the slaves were in a snit. “Master, didn’t you sow good seed?” (It’s almost as if they are saying it accusingly. What did you do wrong? Where did these weeds come from?)
The master said, “My enemy has done this.”
“Well, do you want us to go out and weed?” the servant asked.
“No,” the master said. “You might tear out the weed with the wheats.” The roots would be intertwined.
By the way, the Greek word used for weeds here intimates it was a weed called darnell, which was a rye grass sort of weed, it resembles wheat in the early stages, and its seeds were known to be poisonous. But the master said, “No, let them grow together, and at harvest time I’ll have the reapers separate them. I will even out wit my enemy by using his weeds as fuel for my furnace.” End of story.
It’s kind of a peculiar story. People must have wondered what Jesus meant by it. We know His followers didn’t get its meaning, because later they asked Him about it in private. Jesus explained, the field is the world God created and loves. It is the world He wants to redeem and restore, to make fruitful and good again. The good wheat is the sons of the kingdom – followers of Jesus who have heard the message of God’s kingdom, His rule and reign over people’s lives. They know a new day had arrived, and they repent, believe, and serve Him.
The pesky weeds represent the sons of the evil one. They cause all kinds of evil in this world.
Jesus points out that even though the kingdom Jesus is preaching about has arrived, there is resistance to it. I think especially of Herod who tried to kill the infant Jesus. We have an enemy – Satan, the evil one. He wants to ruin God’s field. Jesus came into the world proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, and immediately the battle was on. Satan did everything he could to resist its expansion. We have the temptation story. C. S. Lewis wrote, “There is no neutral ground in this universe. Every square inch has been claimed by Christ and counterclaimed by Satan.”
Jesus tells us the reapers are God’s angels. They’ll do the separating. The harvest is the end of the age – judgment day, separation day. The day is surely coming when the weeds will be picked, bundled, and burned. The righteous ones, Christ’s followers, will shine like the sun in the perfect kingdom of the Father.
What is the take away? Jesus is pointing out to His followers that yes, there are weeds in the garden of God’s world. The kingdom has arrived, but there is still evil and resistance to God’s rule and God’s ways happening in this world. Sometimes it may even appear that the weeds have the upper hand and are thriving as they have their way in God’s world.
Have you ever wondered if evil is winning? Drug abuse is ruining lives around us. Our world has sex trafficking of children, human beings being treated badly, violence, the porn industry is exploding and ruining lives, immorality and poor values abound. We watch good people suffer and evil people prosper. Those of us in the Church see Jesus being persecuted, ridiculed, and looked down upon. Who hasn’t wondered, What gives here? Why in the world does God allow this? Is He really in control? We get anxious and we wonder if perhaps we should do something with these weeds.
Let’s remove them. That is our natural inclination, isn’t it. Let’s separate ourselves from the weeds and not get tainted by their sinfulness. Or, let’s write them off! That’s what the super religious people (Pharisees) were doing in Jesus’ day. Call them untouchable and leave them alone.
Maybe we’re to hate these people, some people reason. Exterminate them in the name of God. But Jesus doesn’t seem to be saying anything like that! He is saying, Wait a minute now. Hold it. Time out! Be patient now. Don’t start weeding. Learn to live with them. My people are to be people who patiently wait upon the Lord.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the weeds from the wheat. Have you ever met a person you would describe as a weed? She is rotten to the core, a hopeless case. There’s not a trace of God’s image in that individual. Weeding is a tricky, finicky business. It’s difficult to tell a hell-deserving sinner from a saint.
Patience is hard. It’s like the cartoon of the man kneeling, God, give me patience, and please hurry up! Jesus is calling us to patiently trust in our Lord. Leave the weeding to God. It’s going to happen in the end. Only God can know a person’s heart. Instead of hoeing, His people are to be about the business of sowing. There are more people to be reached and brought into the kingdom. If you step outside of the story, I know a number of weeds who have been actually transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus. Be patient, just keep on praying “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done . . .” and it will.
Jesus seems to be saying, Be confident during these days, when it looks like everything’s out of whack. The harvest is coming. Sure, things may look bad today but remember who owns this field – God owns it, and He has the final say over this field we call our world. The end of the age is coming. There is an end to history. History is His story. Sure, things may be a mess, but it’s His mess.
A day will come when evil comes to an end and evil ones will no longer exist. Jesus talks again and again in Scripture of a judgment in the end. Separation. A great day. The harvest. It will be day of rejoicing for God’s people. In fact, we know this for certain because God in Christ has taken care of everything for us. He has defeated the power of sin and death and the devil through the cross and the empty tomb. Those of us who trust in Him are in His hands. Nothing can snatch us from His hand and from Him, as the Apostle Paul says. We can be sure of this. It will all turn out in the end.
Years ago, a movie actress was interviewed concerning her experiences making a film. At one point in the film, some lions would rush at her while she’s tied to a stake in the Roman Coliseum. The reporter asked the actress, “Weren’t you afraid when those lions came rushing at you?” She replied, “No. You see, I’m one of those actresses who reads the entire script. I had read to the end of the script, and I knew the hero would rescue me.”
Jesus is giving us a glimpse of the end of the script in this parable. God’s kingdom wins! This story Jesus told then is to be heard as Good News by the follower of Christ. It is a word of encouragement. Yes, it’s true. It’s real. Weeds are in the garden. The world is full of mess – at least for now. However, a lot of good things are also happening. God’s kingdom is at work. The word from our Savior and Lord of the world is this: “Be patient, be confident, be full of hope, and of good courage. God is in charge.” It’s like the old song says, “I may not know the future, but I know the One who holds my future.” The One who will send His angels into the harvest, and all who trust in Christ will shine like the sun in God’s eternal presence.
In the meantime, we’re to just keep on growing up in Him, trusting in Him and serving Christ in this world, bearing fruit, and putting others in touch with the Savior through our words and our actions, letting our light shine for Him. Keep on being the good news and telling the good news of a Father who loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to save us from sin and hell, and raised Him from the grave with the promise that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. All the while, knowing, trusting that you and I, as followers of Christ, are in God’s strong hands, and nothing can snatch us from those hands. In fact, as a song says, He’s got the whole world in His hands. That is what Jesus is saying here.
I can’t help but notice that this teaching from Jesus also holds a word for those who might be standing outside of a saving relationship with Him. You see, presently we are living in what some people would call the day of grace. Christ’s mercy and forgiveness are still available as we await the final day of judgment. But the day will come when it is too late to say yes to following Christ. The day is coming when it will be too late.But it’s not too late today.
While it is God’s desire for all to be saved and live with Him in heaven, He’s made it very clear that it will not always be the case. There will be a separation of believers and unbelievers. However, He’s told us, “I’m telling you the truth,” Jesus said. “Whoever hears my words and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has already passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
On the basis of such a promise, I have to ask you, if you’re standing outside this relationship, if Christ is not yours, wouldn’t you like to ask Him into your life today? He is standing at the door of your heart, Scripture says, and He is knocking. What peace there is in knowing we have been acquitted by Jesus Christ, who will come to judge the living and the dead. Join me and millions of others today who follow Christ and know what our future ultimately holds. Ask Him in. Ask Him in.
I love the way Jesus describes the glorious future of those who belong to Him. “The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of heaven, in the presence of their heavenly Father.” What a glorious sight that will be! It’s like the familiar hymn says, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”
Yes, weeds are in the garden, but it’s not the end of the story. Be patient; be confident. Amen.
Rev. Steve Kramer