If you happened to be present last Sunday, you may remember that the Gospel lesson dealt with the Parable of the Sower. And whether Pastor Radunzel preached on that particular text or not, the overall worship theme was The Christian is planted by the Word and produces fruit. In other words, the question that was asked last Sunday was: How do people become believers? Or to use the phraseology of Jesus: How does God’s kingdom come to this world? And the answer was that God makes believers through the seed of his Word. Just as a farmer goes sowing seed throughout his field, so also God goes throughout the field of this world sowing his Word into the hearts of men and women.
Today, however, we are not going to answer the question, “How does God’s kingdom come?”, but rather “What about those who are not part of God’s kingdom?” In other words, now that there are believers planted throughout the world, what’s up with the unbelievers? Is it that eventually everyone, including the unbelievers will become sons of the kingdom? Jesus answered that question last week by saying, “No. Not everyone will become a believer. The reality is that we live in a world filled with believers and unbelievers, and then by means of a parable he tells us how to do so.
And that’s really the purpose of this parable that we’ve come to know as the parable of the weeds. Jesus wants to explain to his disciples the way things simply are in this world. There are believers and unbelievers. Using the analogy of farming he says that there is wheat and there are weeds. So, what about the weeds? Should we go throughout the world, pull them up, and eliminate them as the Christians and Muslims wrongfully tried to do to each other during the Crusades? To put it another way, “Jesus, isn’t it bad that believers and unbelievers are living side by side?
Well, that’s why Jesus told his disciples this parable. He said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” Who is this man who sowed good seed in his field? Jesus says: “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. In other, words it is I, myself.”
So, notice that the Son of Man [Jesus] produces a supernatural result with his sowing—he fills the world with “sons of the kingdom”. That means that you and I, and everyone who believes in Jesus as their savior, are right now sons and daughters of the kingdom that belongs to Christ who is the king.
Think of that. Christ is the king. You and I are sons and daughters of that king, meaning the present reality is such that God already considers us princes and princesses as we continue to live out our lives in this world! It doesn’t always seem that way, but it is that way! And in this world Jesus has sown and continues to sow good seed.
“But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?” (vv. 25-27a).
That is an interesting question. You look around and you see what a mess the world is in today, and you ask yourself, “But God, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did all the weeds come from?”
The Greek word that is translated into English as “weeds” indicates a type of plant that is similar to the wheat. It looks similar to the wheat. You might even say that it’s herbal appearance could deceive the untrained eye. But learned Christians know the difference. Trained Christians can separate the two in their minds. What does the farmer say to do with the infestation of weeds in his field? He says, “Leave them there, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them” (v. 29).
Now, we do well to pause here so as to grasp what Jesus is saying. There is an enemy. His name is the devil (v. 39), and the devil is also active in sowing his seed. You see, sometimes we discount the active presence of the devil in this world. We know he is there, but I don’t know how much we conscientiously think of him as the one who’s behind all the stuff that is going on. I don’t know how much we consider him a threat to our lives and to our children’s lives. But an enemy is someone who opposes you—who is against you. An enemy is never neutral.
And that is why Jesus compares the seed of the devil to weeds. One thing I have learned over the years in trying to maintain my lawn is that weeds are not neutral. They impede the growth of the grass. They overtake the grass, or in this case the wheat, so that the wheat cannot grow in all its vigor because the weeds hinder it. They choke it. They keep the good plants stunted in their growth.
Have American Christians become stunted in their growth because of the infestation of immoral weeds all around us? The entertainment industry is not moral, and yet it is probably what we fill our minds with more than anything else. To the young people among us: you need to be mindful of what you allow into your mind. Garbage in, Garbage out.
So, you can understand the reason for the servants’ question: “Do you want us to go and pull the weeds up?” It makes sense from a purely logical point of view. Weeds aren’t supposed to be mixed in with the wheat—farmers try to get rid of them. Kind of like what is happening with the cancel culture of today. The unbelieving world is saying to the Christians: “We don’t like you’re point of view, so we’re going to do away with you.”
It’s very revealing that Jesus says, “Don’t do that.” It’s very revealing as to his character. Is Jesus out to get revenge against those who reject him? Is Jesus out to forge a kingdom of believing Christians by force? Is Jesus’ primary face towards the world a face of judgment? Or does Jesus prefer to wait, to have patience, to let the believers and the unbelievers live together so that the believers might influence the unbelievers so that in the end they too might avoid judgment?
You see, it’s not that Jesus says there will be no consequence for those who remain unbelievers. There will be a judgment. Those who don’t turn to Christ for forgiveness will be judged for their sins. But that judgment is for him and him alone, not for us. That judgment is for later, not for now. Why? You see, I think that is a burning question that so many believers have. Why? Why wait for a separation? Why not just judge everyone now?
Well, what if Jesus had decided to judge you before you came to faith? What if Jesus wasn’t patient with you when you sin? What if Jesus decided to take revenge on you for your offenses to him rather than to have mercy?
You see, Jesus uses an important phrase to answer the servants who asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull the weeds up?” He says, “No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.” See, if we were to go out and practice jihad against those who don’t yet know Christ, then they will never know Christ. And if you look at the unbelieving world and see them all as your enemies, then you will never reach out to them. And what about those men and women, boys and girls, who don’t yet know Jesus as their Savior, but whom God knows that one day will know Jesus as their Savior? What about all of them? So, Jesus says, “The mission of the church isn’t to go out and declare war against those who aren’t members of the church. You are to love them. You are to sympathize with them. You are not to join them. You are not to copy them. But you are to pray for them, and you are to go and talk to them.”
Do you see how our Lord goes about ruling the kingdom of this world? We live within the kingdom of his grace. God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell. And so, he is patient. He is longsuffering, just as he has been longsuffering with you. And all the while the martyrs in heaven cry out; “How long Lord? How long until you judge and exact justice for our blood?” And Jesus answers, “Just wait. I promise you; there will be justice. There will be a harvest. There will be a separation. But my preference is always to save rather than to judge. It’s always to rescue rather than to condemn” (Revelation 6:9-11).
Now you think about that, and you think of what a blessed position you and I who believe are in. We are already saved. We are already sons and daughters of King Jesus. And rather than harvesting us right away once we are saved, he leaves us on this earth to be around the weeds. To positively influence the weeds. To lovingly reach out to the weeds. To serve as a preservative in this rotting world for future generations, so that there are godly people in this world to raise up the next generation. Do you see what tremendous purpose you have?
But if you hole yourself up as if you were a monk in a monastery, what purpose would you serve then? Or if you go around judging everybody as the church did during the Spanish inquisition, what positive influence will you have then? And if you think that the way to separate the wheat and the weeds is through a bunch of rules and Pharisaical laws, well anyone who tries that only succeeds in ruining the wheat along with the weeds.
So, what do we do? We live our lives joyfully and boldly as Christians because we know there is a coming harvest. It’s all going to be sorted out in the end. God knows which presidents and rulers of this world are purposely harming the people of this world. God’s not going to get it wrong at the harvest. But that’s what the angels are for: to gather in the harvest; to separate that wheat from the weeds. That’s not what you and I are for.
Do you know what you and I are for? To live as wheat. To be and to continue being Christians in an unbelieving world. To love our neighbors as ourselves. To love God above all things. You see, he hasn’t given this job to the angels. Their job is judgment. Their job is to weed out God’s kingdom. But what a more glorious job the Father has given to us! We can proclaim peace! We can proclaim pardon! We can practice godly patience in the meantime for we already know how we will be judged. “Not guilty—because of Jesus.” Verse 43: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Amen.