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That's The Way It Is

July 22, 2023 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

CRONKITEChrist Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
July 23, 2023
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 8
And That’s The Way It Is

Then he left the crowds and came into the house and his disciples came to him and said, "Explain the parable of the weeds of the field to us!" He answered and said,

The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
The field is the world!
The good seed are the of the sons of the kingdom!
The weeds are the sons of the evil one!
The enemy who sowed them is the devil!
The harvest is the close of the age!
The reapers are the angels!

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, just so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels to extricate from his kingdom all instigators of sin, and all lawless people; and throw them into the fiery furnace there there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will be as radiant as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let him hear!" (Matthew 13:36-43)

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Many years ago before dot met com there was Walter Cronkite.

Walter was the voice of America’s news. A force to be reckoned with. When his voice filled the airwaves people listened. He was the face, and voice of sobriety and truth, and whatever he said was believed by all. He ended each broadcast with same phrase, “And that’s the way it is on (e.g.) July 23, 1966

But was it? Did Walter know today’s parable? Did he account for the “sons of the evil one,” the “sons of the kingdom,” or the close of the age? Did he know the way things really were?

In today's gospel the Lord sorts things for us. He plainly tells us the way things REALLY ARE yesterday, today and forever. And he divides humanity into two categories. Those who will be bundled up and thrown into the fiery furnace where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth forever. And those who will shine radiant as the sun in the Kingdom of the Father.

Humanity, too, divides. Humanity, too, makes binary decisions in connection with many things..

To the car dealer there are those who need a new car, and all the rest.
To the barber there are those who need a haircut, and all the rest.
To the social influencer there are those on her side. Those who send delightful chemical tingles into her brain whenever they “like” her comments (And Oi! how happy she is!);  but there are those who still need to be converted

But, again, Jesus begs to differ. He organizes the world very differently and we who have “the mind of Christ” must adopt his world view and not our own. Then we too will: know the truth. And the truth will set us free. (John 8)

According to the Lord’s parable there are the field, the seed, the weeds, the enemy, the harvest and the reapers.

The field is the world which is a stage of endless drama; struggle; confusion; and ever-moving goal posts so that it is impossible to navigate. Even the “brightest and best” are bound to crash and burn sometimes – and so what of the rest?

What about us? What will we be? What will be do? How will be live? What is our guiding light; our Polaris; our North Star? It is Jesus the light of the world. Jesus who promises that, “whoever believes in me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) He is our One Redeemer, and apart from him there is no other God.

The good seed are the “sons of the kingdom”? We are those sons! But how did we come by this unparalleled life? St. Paul answers in one word. Adoption! The adoption that takes place in the church’s primary Sacrament of baptism. And as adoptees of the Father of all mercies and God of all consolation we are also his heirs. Fellow-heirs with Christ. And Oh what a Kingdom is ours! “Fear not little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

Now if it is by adoption, it is not by our “spirituality,” or spotless record of love for God and our neighbor in every circumstance. Not even close. Indeed “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us.” “But if we confess our sins 1) as we do each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, 2) as we do in the confessional prayer we pray before we dare to worship, 3) as we do in private confession which is good for the soul) … if we confess our sins God is faithful and Just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all our wrongs!”

The weeds figuratively speaking are the sons of the devil. To hear Jesus tell it however it sounds much more than figurative. When, for example, he says to those who claimed Abraham, and thus God, as their father. Jesus says to them plainly, “You are of your father the devil,” which means: their father is Satan! These are the weeds! And until a person comes to “worship the Father in Spirit and Truth” he is for all intents a child of the devil, destined to walk in darkness his whole life long, and his after-life in everlasting shame (Is. 44:9).

“Whoever has ears, let him hear!”

And we know who the “sons of the devil are.” “By their fruits you shall know them.” “A good tree bears good fruit. God’s fruit. As taught in the Bible. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering and so on. But a bad tree bears thorns that harm everyone who comes close to it.

And so while it is Christ who populates the world with those who “fear, love and trust in God above all things” by his Cross and Liturgy – the vacant-eyed devil is the enemy who populates the world with evil people; who don’t want to be constrained by God, but who by that choice make themselves slaves of the devil.

Many people have asked: If God is good and all-powerful why doesn’t he stop evil from happening. We can only say that he has; he does; and that he will in so definitive a way at the close of the age, the harvest that every eye will see, none will doubt, but all will believe. Some to salvation and some to condemnation because then time is up!

At that time Jesus’ words will come to pass, “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

The reapers who conduct the harvest are the angels. They will gather those who do good, that is, those who are “heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ,” and in the “blink of an eye” they will be changed. They will be radiant as the sun itself so that no one will be able to look at them. No one except those who are likewise radiant. And of course He who “shines with unborrowed light,” our own Savior, Jesus Christ the “First and the Last. Who first entered the world in the beginning when God said, “Let there be Light.” And enters again in today’s Holy Communion. But while we’re on the subject make be sure we understand what’s what.

Heaven is not an eternal luxury vacation! But to be in heaven is to be inside of God who is love. And inside of Christ, and he in us. And it is a place where we will be fully engaged, and altogether satisfied doing sacred work that is presently incomprehensible, but will be revealed. What a blessed hope it is that we eagerly await.

These same angels will also gather the devil’s children. Those Stalin-esque “useful idiots” whom the devil blinds, deceives, dominates, terrorizes, tortures and bullies into a Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome. But who at the end of the day, and at the end of the age, are accountable for their own choices. Those will be thrown into the furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And THAT’s the way it is. So let him who has ears, hear! Amen