July 19, 2020

Message for July 19, 2020- “More Seeds…More Weeds”

(From Matthew 13: 24-30; 36-43)

     I met Donna at Union College. Donna fit in with the other gals in our Dorm perfectly.  She looked, dressed, and acted just like everyone else.  She drove a Datsun B210—they were popular cars back then!  There was nothing in outer appearances that separated Donna from the rest of the pack.  It was not until I was invited to Donna’s home over the summer that I discovered that Donna was wealthy—I mean MEGA-RICH.  Donna’s family has been partners in financing the first Trans-Continental railroad.  Now that’s old money!  Donna wanted to fit in at school and not be judged as different, so she chose to live the “common” college lifestyle and leave the evidence of her true status of wealth at home.

      Our scripture lesson for this morning returns us to another of Jesus’ parables about sowing seeds.  This parable is another story about earthly things that reveals for us more truths about God and about the kingdom of God. This time, the seeds that are sown are wheat.  The sower planted these seeds in his field.  At night, while the man was sleeping, his enemy came to his field and sowed some tares, weeds, among his wheat and then he snuck away.  Both seeds sprouted forth from the ground and grew to produce their plants, the tares hidden among the wheat.  The servants observed the growing wheat field, and they believed they noticed some tares that had grown up among the wheat.  They approached the owner of the field, wanting to remove the tares from the field.  But the owner told the servants to let them be, for in plucking them up now, they may also uproot some for the good wheat he had planted.  Instead, they were to wait until the gathering of the harvest, where the tares would be bundled to be burned, while the wheat would be safely stored in the owner’s barn.

     When Jesus had finished his teaching, the Disciples came to him and asked him to explain to them the meaning of the “Parable of the Wheat and Tares.”  Jesus shared that the one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man—Jesus himself.  The field is a symbol for the world, and the good seeds, the wheat that was sown, represents the children of God’s kingdom.  The enemy is the Devil/Satan, and he is the one who sowed tares, the seeds representing the children who follow evil, in the field among the wheat.  The servants are the angels, who will gather in the harvest of souls at the end of the age.  The tares, souls of those who follow the evil one, will be gathered to be burned—they will perish.  But, the wheat, the righteous souls, will be gathered by the angels into God’s eternal heavenly kingdom—where they will shine like the very sun.  “He who has ears,” Jesus declared, “Let them hear!”

     As Christians, we do not often talk about and define the evil we find in our world—although we sure do know through our life’s experience it is out there.  The parable of the Tares sown among the Wheat reveals some important truths about our God, and about how God’s kingdom operates.  It will be helpful in learning these truths to understand a bit more about the nature of Wheat and Tares.  Now, I am no gardener, but I have it on good authority that there is a type of wild grass called darnel whose early plant appears very, very similar to a young growing shaft of wheat. It is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to distinguish between a young wheat shaft and this form of grass also known as a “tare.”  If we look at this in the big picture, it shows us that wheat and tares can coexist together in the field without revealing the true inner nature of each of them. This is also true of children of the kingdom and those who follow the way of darkness. Thus, to coin a phrase, we cannot know a book by simply viewing its outer cover.  The servants in the parable believed that they had identified some tares growing among the wheat.  They were ready to pull them up to rid the field of them.  They had made a judgement about what was wheat vs. what was tares.  But the owner asked them to wait until the harvest to separate them.  He did not want to risk the servants accidentally uprooting any wheat as they were plucking up the tares.  This interpretation reminds believers that God alone is the judge, for only God knows what lies beneath the outer surface of a person—the appearance of things.  Just as the deeper reality about my friend Donna was made known only when she chose to share her true self with me, the deeper reality of a person’s heart is made known only to God who sees our true selves. We cannot search and know the inner heart of others as God has the ability to know them.

     Another important aspect of this parable is its reference to the harvest, which represents the end of the age.  In the parable, the owner instructs the servants to wait for the time of the harvest before separating the wheat from the tares.  Could it be that some of the plants are still immature, and have not yet born their true fruit?  Could plucking to soon result in destroying some precious wheat?  Timing here, is a very important consideration that we will now discuss in further detail.

      The current age in which we are living is called the Age of Grace.  God’s marvelous gift of grace has come to believers through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  His sacrificial death on the cross fulfilled once and for all the righteousness of our salvation, by which we receive grace through our faith.  In this Age of Grace, Christ has commanded us to share his good news throughout the earth until the time when he comes again to gather his people.  Perhaps this age is a time for cultivating young plants, so that all of the wheat may be revealed at the time of harvest.

     When Jesus’ Disciples asked him when the end times would come, he answered them this way: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only God [the Father]” (Matthew 24:36).  I have heard many people speculate that all that is currently happening in our world is a sign of end times.  I do not know when the end of days will come.  I do know that God has commanded us to remain faithful in sharing his love and the good news about God’s kingdom with others until Christ comes again in glory.  I certainly see these days as ripe opportunities to show the love of Jesus to our needy world.  We see a lot of judgement happening today.

We judge, sometimes very harshly, those people who do not think and act exactly as we do, or as we believe they should. We snap to judge others because of differences in color, ethnicity, religious faith, gender identity, physical/mental ability, and political philosophy. The “Parable of the Wheat and Tares” sends us a strong message about judging others according to our observations and expectations.  Only God knows each heart, and which souls will grow to become among the harvest of wheat.

So, we need to be very careful how we judge others, lest we, who consider ourselves to be shafts of God’s precious wheat, are mistaken by our own words and actions to be weeds!  May God’s people say amen.