My landscaper / horticulturalist son has over the years planted a whole variety of unique plants around the flower beds of our house. Early in the year I’m never really sure what is growing, as there does not seem to be a whole lot of appearance difference between the flowers and the weeds. So I’m afraid to pull out something without knowing for sure if might not rather be some rare plant he found a way to grow.
This year there have been some tall, bright green plants growing along the back of the house. I did not know what they were and let them grow. After a while I asked Ben if he knew, and he said he did not but that it might be interesting to see what they turned into. Well, we finally determined they were simply tall weeds, and they are now in my substantial burn pile awaiting a fire.
Early in the growing season there can be difficulty in identifying plants, but over time and fruition, they reveal if they are something good or just a worthless weed.
In today’s parable we see a story of a crop of wheat growing, yet intermingled is also a crop of weeds that were sown by the landowner’s enemy. The question is how to get rid of the bad without hurting the good. Here is the story …
Matthew 13:24-30 — The Parable of the Weeds
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 uproot 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.’”
The situation here is that the weeds growing concurrently with the good seed and crop of wheat is a type of grass plant called “darnel” that has a very similar appearance as the wheat. It is only at the end of the harvest cycle that the two are easily distinguishable.
So the landowner tells the workers to wait until the harvest. At that time the plants will be easily separated. The harvest will be preserved without large portions being uprooted, and the weeds can be gathered to have the positive benefit of being used as fuel.
Jesus actually gives the interpretation of the parable a bit later in the chapter in response to the questioning of the disciples …
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
It often seems odd to us that God allows evil to rage on and on without judgment. But he has a timetable for such a judgment, and this mercy he extends allows us to grow in him while also being his agents to reach out to those around.
It is nothing new for God’s people to wonder why God does not intervene more quickly and immediately into the affairs of man. Habakkuk (2:2-4) asked God in frustration, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.” God ultimately did judge the Babylonians, but not as soon as the prophet wanted to see it happen.
Jeremiah (12:1-2) also called out to God with the verbiage of impatient perplexity … “You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.”
It is confusing and frustrating to see godless people thrive. But a certain promise is there in Scripture that a final day of judgment will come and God will bring about justice.
< For discussion: Why is it so difficult to wait for God’s justice to be revealed? How is your faith challenged by this seemingly endless delay? >