Jesus LOVES teaching in parables, these earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. Today we hear several whose meanings intertwine. I invite you to listen for what message of truth Jesus offers YOU today, keeping in mind that often God’s grace shows up in our lives through a moment of conviction.
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while everybody was asleep an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the servants 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?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No, for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 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.’ ”
31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden since the foundation.”
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
What heavenly meaning are we to take from this earthly story? In general I begin with a question Dr. Jackie Smallbones taught me nearly 20 years ago. Prayerfully wondering, “Who are YOU, God?” For as much as the bible offers us guidance in our lives, it’s a love story in which God is front and center. Every teaching that directs us to consider living into God’s kingdom is an invitation for you and I to accept God’s love and truly live as if we believe it.
This week, I felt a strong connection between Jesus’ words last Sunday “do not judge, lest you be judged.” and the moment in this parable when the servants (eager as they are to do the Master’s bidding) ask, “Should we tear up these weeds?” and the Master says, “No. That is not your work to do. Leave them be for now, I’ll take care of them when the time is right.”
In fact, even when the time does come, it’s not we humans who do the judging. Ever. The only instruction we’re offered in these parables is to be patient, like a person who sows a mustard seed and waits for the growth. Like a woman kneading dough, in anticipation of its rising. Like a child of the kingdom, relying on God’s grace to overpower all the weeds in our lives and in this world.
Yes, weeds are in this world, we know this! We also know how easy it can be for us to lose sight of who’s in charge when the weeds are allowed to overtake good growth. Jesus knows the weeds. They tried to entangle themselves ever so cleverly within his earthly ministry. Think of Jesus on the cross, surrounded by those intent on torturing him…and he asks God to forgive them. How? Because he knows even death itself cannot trample the good seed planted within our souls. And because of Jesus, we can now experience this too- this unending love that more powerful than hate.
This is how we trust the weeds do NOT win. They will never win. Not the weeds in our own hearts, not those that surround us. We have to believe this in order to live bravely into each new day. The good seed that God planted within us since the day of our birth will come to full fruit in God’s timing. So we wait. We may not even be able to fully understand the work God is up to around us, letting weeds grow among the good seeds. And that’s okay. We don’t have to have all the answers to hold onto faith. That’s the power of belief, it transcends our earthly experience. As we prayerfully wonder, “Who are you, God?” we begin to catch a glimpse of a new heaven and new earth where truth and order and divine goodness are restored to their rightful place, smack dab in the center of our souls.
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Rev. Emily Munger
delights in connecting sacred texts with everyday life.