A sermon on God’s purpose with the world as explained by Jesus in the parable of the wheat and the tares. Preached at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Taylor, BC July 19, 2020
One of the heaviest questions we carry as Christians is why doesn’t God do something? In the face of car crashes and suicides, cruelty and perverse selfishness, persistent temptations, prejudices and terror… how could a good God allow so much evil? Why does an Almighty God not do something about it? Couldn’t an omniscient God create a world without evil? Why doesn’t an active God help His children? I don’t know that we get a direct answer but this parable speaks into that heavy question.
We continue at the seashore with Jesus today as he in a boat continues this discourse in parables. He speaks in these riddles that reveal, and work out in, those he calls to be his disciples the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
What is a disciple? What does it mean to be a disciple? It means one who follows. It means one who is an apprentice. It means one called to come along with God as he works the renewal of all creation.
So Jesus tells this parable: Someone 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.'”
When they get away from the crowds the disciples do, what we are all called to do, they ask Jesus what this parable means.
Jesus again identifies himself as the sower, though this time he uses the title: “Son of Man”. There are two different ways the term “Son of Man” was used in the Hebrew Scriptures-a prophetic sense and a messianic sense. God refers to Both Ezekiel and Daniel as Son of Man, through whom he is speaking and making his power and promise known. While Jesus is speaking in parables in the prophetic tradition his disciples may have understood him to be continuing the work God had done in Daniel and Ezekiel. But there is also this radically different Messianic use of the term found in Psalm 80 and Daniel 7, the Son of Man is a king who is coming, a king unlike any other, who will undo the tyranny of pagan empires and plant the vine of God’s righteous people again in the earth, and his reign will be an everlasting reign. Jesus is again someone sowing, the Son of Man who has come to garden.
The field is the world. You may note the implication that Jesus here is claiming the world as his own, even though his own did not receive him. Jesus has come to plant something in the world. Where in last weeks parable the Word of God was the seed, and people were the ground in this parable the saints of God are the seeds whom God is planting in the world. The world is cultivating a harvest of saints for the master, this is the purpose of the world, to cultivate saints.
But Jesus goes on to explain an enemy has come. Jesus explains that the devil desires to work against Jesus’s purpose in the world, that he is opposed to the cultivation of saints that he sees humanity as necessarily unworthy of God’s love and holiness. And so wherever the Son of Man plants righteous men and women, wherever Jesus plants and makes a Christian the Devil plants his children. Who are the devil’s children – Jesus names them: the causes of sin and evildoers. Where saints-where Christians are growing up in this world they will be challenged by the causes of sin and by evildoers, this is the world we are living in.
The angels came to Jesus, thoroughly distraught about seeing how these weeds choked the crop he was growing and they asked if they could please go out and pull up these weeds. But Jesus said that this would be against his purpose in making saints, that this might lead to the weeding of good seed along with the bad. He said let it be.
There are all kinds of problems in the church and in our own lives we make worse by not letting them be, by not remembering that the world has a king, that our field has a master, who has said he will sort it all out in the end. For Jesus just as the weeds are gathered up when the crop is fully grown so it will be at the end of the age. Every petty tyrant will be toppled from his throne, and evil and sin will be cast out of the fellowship God intends to enjoy with his people, until then we are to grow up, to mature and bear fruit, becoming more perfect image bearers by the working of God in us. For a day will come when we are made new and the saints shall shine in the kingdom of God. Endure evil and temptation, they are temporary, pray for the day of the harvest, and rest assured that God will do something.