#41: The Wheat and the Tares

Matthew 13:24–30

He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’

The last of the ‘growth of the Kingdom’ parables. The Kingdom is growing, nothing can fully stop it. It is organic, alive. ‘All living things grow’, the first of the great laws of science that we all learnt at school. The law of life, applies to everything and everywhere in the universe. It applies to God’s Kingdom with its strong DNA formed in Heaven. But the devil is back, doing his work and undoing the work of Jesus. I never like focusing too much on the devil and his doings. I have heard too much over the years that was too lurid, too negative and gave him too much influence. He is there however, in Jesus’ teachings, in his world, and in ours. Jesus sows his good seed in the daytime, the devil at night. That tells us a lot.

The weeds can entangle, obstruct and spoil the growing Kingdom, but they cannot overcome it. The light has dawned and the darkness cannot fully put it out.

So without being too fearful, we can ask the question. If the Kingdom is growing in us and we are being drawn closer to, beginning to follow and trying to become like Jesus; where are the weeds? What is getting in the way? Who are the people that are obstructing and trying to strangle the good that is growing in us?

Because if Jesus is correct, and he certainly is in my case, then the night time planter will be hard at work.

And if we are trying to become like Jesus, scattering good seeds, growing good things in other people’s lives. If we are ‘Kingdom farmers’ too, then where are the weeds in our work? If we are part of a church, group or movement that is trying to grow the Kingdom, make the world a better place, sharing the Good News with acts of love and words of life then where and what are the weeds?

These are not vague ‘if this should happen’ thoughts. I am convinced that in this story Jesus is reflecting on his own ministry, on the things that are happening around him and to him and the impact he is having. There was growth, but there were also weeds. It is a bit like the parable of the sower. We would love it all to go well and to grow. Jesus seems to be saying, ‘this is how it has been in my mission and ministry, and this is how it will be in yours’.

Some good, some bad.
Some growth, some dying.
Some success, some failure.
Some rejoicing, some disappointment.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is the ancestor of all great American slave literature. Roots, Color Purple, Twelve Years a Slave they all grew out of it. It was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe a dedicated follower of Jesus and opponent of slavery. In the novel she tells the story of ‘Honest John Van Trompe’. Honest John refused to attend any church where the minister or pastor supported slavery. These were good Godly men leading good churches but there were too many weeds living amongst the wheat. Every church, group or Kingdom project that I’ve ever been involved with has always had someone or something spoiling the growth. In fact, in some cases I myself have been the someone.

Do not be defeated by the thin soil, the weeds and night-time spoiler. Keep growing, keep planting, keep tending the shoots.

Great children’s literature knows all about the Devil and his attempts to spoil the garden of goodness.
He can be called Sauron, The White Witch, King Rat or Voldemort, but he or she is always the Devil.

Lord help me,
To be deeply planted.
To grow straight and strong.
To be part of your Kingdom field.
To bear fruit for you.