Saturday, July 16, 2011
Key Text Matthew 13:24-30
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 ”‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 ”‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
Who are the weeds and who are the wheat? In my life, do I produce weeds or do I produce wheat? These are good questions for us to ask as we examine the gospel reading for today? In fact the parable of the weeds and the wheat is very timely at this time of year since many have just finished planting their crops and the paddocks are carpets of green.
However, these carpets of green are not just the infant wheat, barley, and oat plants. There are weeds growing amongst the crops too! Who put the weeds there? When farmers plant, do they inadvertently sow weeds too? Jesus says that the enemy plants the weeds in the good soil. Who is this enemy? In most cases there’s no sinister neighbour who would go to the effort or have the time to sow weeds amongst your wheat.
So two questions remain: Who are the weeds and the wheat? Or more importantly, am I wheat or weeds? And secondly, who is the enemy if I don’t have an adversary climbing over my fence to plant the weeds?
This agricultural picture is one to which we can all relate. Every one of us knows what a pain weeds can be; literally, for children who get prickles stuck in their feet; and financially, for those who spend much time and effort to rid their gardens and paddocks of weeds.
In last week’s Gospel reading Jesus tells of the parable of the farmer who plants his seed which falls on different types of soil. God is the farmer and we are the soil. But in this parable God is not the only farmer! The soil, or the world, which receives the seeds of God’s word also has the seeds of weeds—the seeds of sin, the seeds of Satan—planted in it too.
Are you a weed or wheat; a bad seed or a good seed? It’s a scary question if we honestly examine ourselves. And if the weeds weren’t sown in us how is it that we keep on sprouting up the weeds of sin in our lives?
As any farmer knows looking after good soil and keeping it that way takes a lot of work. One must be careful not to introduce weeds as one seeks to improve their dirt. Gardeners know of this problem. Manure and straw is good for the garden but sometimes the weeds in the straw and the manure do more harm than good.
Well God doesn’t introduce weeds or sins when he fertilises us with his word, but when we take his word and mould it to suit us there’s a big danger that weeds might be sown in the good soil that God has made us to be with his word.
Also sometimes the weeds of sin still appear even when everything seems to have been done right. Clean mulch and organic matter is placed on the soil of our hearts by God, and the fruit of sin still grows from us. Where do the weeds come from? Have you ever found yourself suffering from the exasperation of recurring weeds? Seeds of sin may have laid dormant in you, way past the point of you remembering when the sin first occurred, and them something happens only to bring back the sin of the past.
The good news in all of this is that asking the questions and recognising the weeds in us is half the battle won. God has given us all the ability to look into our hearts and recognise weeds. Unfortunately though, we even abuse this gift too by then taking this ability of noticing the weeds and look over our neighbours’ fences and criticise them about all the weeds of sin growing in their dirt. But God calls us to look at ourselves and see the weeds of sin that need rooting out of us.
So how does this all happen? How do we notice the weeds in the garden, when we can’t even see the garden because of the weeds that obstruct our view of it? In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says, ‘if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.’ (Romans 8:10-11) The Spirit of Jesus which lives in us is none other than the Holy Spirit and it is he, through God’s word, which opens our eyes to the weeds which need rooting out.
Paul goes on to say, ‘If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.’ (Romans 8:13b-14) So it is the Holy Spirit living in us, by God’s grace and the power of his word, who puts to death the misdeeds, the bad habits, the weeds of sin, our corrupted natures. After he does that he then places in us Christ, so, to the Father in heaven we appear as ‘Sons of God’. God the Holy Spirit places the richness of Jesus, God’s only Son, in our hearts, so we can stand before God holy and blameless as his forgiven children. All this happens when the Holy Spirit reveals the weeds in us, and encourages, leads, and gives us the words to say sorry to our Heavenly Father in repentance. Our sin is shown for what it is and we surrender saying, ‘yes God, you are right and I am wrong, no ifs or buts, I am sorry!’
One of the greatest feelings there is, is the feeling of having the burden of sin lifted off one’s shoulders. When we say sorry God has already forgiven us, but if we think it is not appropriate to say sorry well then our sins remain, and the weeds continue to grow. God calls us to a life in Christ; the Holy Spirit enables that to happen through the word of God for Jesus’ sake. Because of our weedy existence though, he calls us to continually let the Holy Spirit root out the weeds in us.
Now that we are Sons and heirs with Christ, we can confidently call out to our Father for all that we need. Just like a little child dependant on its daddy we too can call out to God our Father, our Heavenly Dad. We can pray for all we need and be confident that God hears us. And we can be confident that even though we struggle with weeds of sin in our lives we are God’s children.
When God sends Jesus Christ to the final harvest he will find us cleansed and pure like a golden head of wheat, the weeds of sin already bundled and burn through the fires of the Holy Spirit at baptism and God will harvest us and take us to be with him in glory. Amen.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.