Wheat and Weeds; and Weeds and Wheat (Matthew 13)

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? >

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

One thought on “Wheat and Weeds; and Weeds and Wheat (Matthew 13)

  1. Randy, I am not sure that most of us are suffering enough to be crying out for justice. It is good for those of us that care about sin and the state of our country to be concerned and to lament the embedded sin in our country.

    I do think though that it is difficult for us in this country in general to care about sin since we are all somewhat prosperous. Even the poorest among us have access to food handouts and 20,000,000 (or I might be greatly understating this) are receiving food stamps.

    Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. (Prov. 16:19 NIV)

    I think that we forget that we as a society are engaging in massive generational theft.

    Go to http://www.usdebtclock.org to get some idea of how much we are borrowing. Thomas Jefferson warned against our democracy being tempted to borrow money and steal from the next generation.

    American tax payers consistently vote to get more benefits and pay less taxes. As a result we borrow money (which no one seems to be in favor of) and are creating hardship for the future. It is hard to know when this debt game will end and we can no longer borrow and keep spending.

    Maybe each of us should evaluate whether we actually need certain government benefits that are made available to us. Should se avail ourselves of all the government money that we can get? Is that God’s will? Are we using these benefits for God’s service — or do we use them for our own pleasure? Are we complicit in stealing from the next generation? Do we vote for those who promise us benefits — or do we vote for those who promise us austerity?

    There is a collective “They” out there who do evil. But before we cry out to God about “Them” we need to ask him if we are right, and if not ask him to help straighten us out.

    I am not by any means claiming to make every decision correctly. I am not at all claiming that I have mastered concern for the next generation. I am not even claiming that this comment of mine points people in the right direction.

    I am saying though that there is massive wickedness going on as we STEAL from the next generation and we need to seek God and maybe seek God’s forgiveness.

    We as a nation might sentence someone to a year in jail for stealing a thousand dollars worth of material from a store. Yet we collectively as a nation borrow an additional trillion dollars a year (which amounts to about $3,000 per every person in this country). So the average American is stealing $3,000 a year from future generations. We are oblivious to ours sins. Almost no one is calling us to account over it. Over the course of ten years or so we each have our collective part in an average of $30,000 per person theft.

    May God guide us what to do about it … and maybe he will grant us repentance. Maybe we a church should at least ponder if we should be having something to say about this great crime. (Will it isn’t actually a crime, but Thomas Jefferson wanted to make it a crime, or make it against the law for any generation to borrow what it could not pay back.

    I didn’t do a very good job answering your questions Randy. I suppose I fear that we are sinning without even knowing it. “God have mercy on me — a sinner.”

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