God Allows Weeds
July 23, 2020 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 ~ God Allows Weeds
Pentecost 7, Proper 11-A @ Christ Lutheran Ch, Cleveland, OH
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” Matthew 13:36
In the Name of the Father and of the Son (X) and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN
Dear beloved of the Lord:
Last week (7-12-2020) our pastor spoke these words of Gospel assurance to us when he addressed the Parable of the Sower: “We are the good soil in the parable, in which the seed has taken root and produced a harvest of fruit for our God.” Please keep his good words in mind today as we progress deeper into Matthew chapter 13 in the Parable of the Weeds. First let’s note: Jesus is speaking to “the great crowds gathered about Him” and not His disciples. The crowds then and the crowds of today’s world are hearing their Redeemer announce that the long-promised reclaiming and restoration of the world is now underway in the kingly acts and deeds of the reign of Jesus. Today's Gospel does not speak of the Church as if it were a field that contains both good wheat and evil seed. To be sure, the outward church as we observe it today appears to contain as many evil people as it does faithful and pious Christians. For as many as live by simple faith and trust in Jesus, there are equally many who claim to be Christian, but who ignore the commandments of God, who "change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and who deny Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord" (Philemon 4). If this Gospel were speaking about our life together in the Church, we would be forced to conclude that crass and rebellious people, adulterers and idolaters, thieves, heretics, slanderers, and swindlers all ought to be welcomed at our altar without any discipline or rebuke. If that is what today's Gospel is all about, we would have no choice but to cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6), and stand idly by while the enemies of God turn this house of prayer into a den of robbers (Matthew 21:13). We would be unable to "expel the evil man from among (us)" (Deuteronomy 17:7, 1 Corinthians 5: 13), as both Moses and Paul bid us do; we would have no defense against those who teach "a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all" (Galatians 1:8); and we would have no means to do something as simple as discipline and chastise our own children, in order that they may grow up in true faith and pious living.
But today's Gospel does not speak of the Church as if it were a field that contains both good wheat and evil seed. Jesus says, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world" (Matthew 13:37-38). The field is not the Church … it is the world! And this is essential to understanding the point of the parable. Our Lord does not speak here about our life in the Church, rather He speaks about our life as the wheat, the child of God, the member of the Body of Christ, the Church in the world.
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom" (Matthew 13:24, 37-38). The good seed represents you who are Christian. You are, as Isaiah calls you, "the planting of the Lord" (Isaiah 61:3). You are the Church, and Jesus — the Son of Man, is the one who sows good seed — Jesus has deliberately planted you into the field of this world so that you may grow up and produce fruit and one day be gathered in the eternal harvest.
This dear Christian, is the first teaching of today's Gospel: you are not here of your own accord or volition! The crucified and risen Jesus Christ claims the full credit and praise for your creation, for your redemption, for your new birth of faith through water and Spirit, and for your perseverance in the faith unto eternal life. No seed plants itself! No stalk of wheat grows without its Creator's gracious care and provision! No one becomes Christian through personal choice or desire! Christians are created and they are planted. You are the good seed of the parable, and "the one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man."
But this parable does not speak only of fresh air and sunshine. "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence" (Matthew 11: 12, NASB). The good farmer's enemy is not content to allow the field to grow unmolested. He comes under cover of darkness and plants his own evil seed. The enemy came "and sowed weeds among the wheat" (Matthew 13:25). Jesus explains that "The weeds are the sons of the evil one [all unbelievers], and the enemy who sows them is the devil" (Matthew 13:38-39).
Now, you will not be the least bit surprised to hear that there are both believers and unbelievers in this world. Simple observation of your everyday life will prove that truth. Also, the Scriptures themselves are not ignorant of that fact, as we know from the stories of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Church's earthly co-habitation with unbelief is an established fact. God's Word is powerful, but so also is Satan's. Where the one is preached in truth and purity, the other will inevitably slink in to do its weed-planting work, and this is the second important realization that today's Gospel brings: Do not think that the proclamation of the Gospel ever goes unopposed. Wherever the good farmer sows seed, his enemy will inevitably sow weeds.
This now brings us to the central and most crucial point of the parable: "When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The [owner's] servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull [the weeds] up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them’" (Matthew 13:26, 28-29). The mind-boggling reality described in this Gospel is that God allows evil to persist in the world because of His love for you the believer. He says to His servants, "Don't pull up the weeds just yet! I will root them out in due time. Only let them persist for a while, because if you destroy them now you might also destroy some of My precious wheat. I will allow nothing to destroy My wheat!"
Many make the mistake of assuming that it would be a good thing to rid the world of evil all at once. Why, indeed, does God tolerate such filth in His creation as we see today? The perverse hearts of men only grow more perverse, the world's rebellion only grows more defiant, and its enmity toward you only deepens. Why, then, doesn't our all-powerful creator wipe it all away and allow His Church to live in peace? "Because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them."
Dear Christians, hear today nothing less than the long suffering and patience of our Almighty God. Grace brought Him to Mary's womb, Grace compelled Him to die for our sins, and now, Grace holds back the arm of His final judgment yet a little while longer. Did not the prophet Jonah say this very thing? "I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God," he prayed, "slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity" (Jonah 4:2). And again, from St. Peter, "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with YOU, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
How often we forget. How often our own sinful amnesia rears its ugly head, causing us to forget all that God has already said and done for us. How often we forget almighty God’s declaration from the cross, “It is finished!” We forget; we doubt because we trust our eyes rather than our ears. Look around. What is finished? Sin still seems to have its way, and it only looks like it is getting worse every day that goes by. Based on what we see, we could conclude that nothing is finished. The mission was a failure. “It is finished. I have already told you so. And you are My witnesses!”
Folks: (point to Holy Communion) Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! It is finished! Here are the fruits of His victory over sin, death, and the devil. Here is His victorious body and blood, which He freely gives to you for your forgiveness, comfort, and eternal salvation. Think about that. You are able, with all your senses, to witness and experience the Rock of your salvation in action in your midst. Here is your almighty God and Lord, who deigns to kneel down from heaven to feed and nourish you, in spite of you. That is how much He loves you. Is there any other god like that? I know not any.
This is truly a mysterious Gospel that God would allow the evil plantings of the devil to persist in the field of His world. The mystery lies in the fact that He allows evil to persist out of love for you. But this really should come as no surprise. God does everything out of love for you. You already can see such love — such love as passes all human understanding — when you look upon the cross and grave of your Lord Jesus Christ. In an equally incomprehensible way, God shows His love for you by allowing the weeds to persist in the field for a time. Yet their persistence is not without even further promise and further hope for you, who are the wheat planted by the Lord. For the Lord of the Harvest closes this parable with the promise toward which we all continually strain our eyes: "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" (Matthew 13:30). And again, "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear" (Matthew 13:43). AMEN.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son (X) and of the Holy Spirit
The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.