Hello and welcome to Monday’s Foundations podcast. My name is James, I’m married to Lucy and I’m part of the team here at STC. We are continuing through the gospel of Matthew this week. Last Friday, Helen focussed on fruitfulness and multiplication… both in our lives and with our friends… She used v23 from the same chapter (13)… “But the seed [the word of God] falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
In our reading today Jesus builds on this imagery. He tells a parable, which is a word that means to compare. He is making comparisons between ordinary examples (everyday things) and things of the Kingdom (divine things). In the comparing and placing the example and idea next to one another in parallel truths can be recognised… that’s why Jesus is often saying things like “the kingdom of God is like…”
So building on this imagery of seed and fruitfulness he makes a comparison about weeds. I will read three verses from v27:
“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?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 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.’”
There are three things to pick out from these few verses for us to think through today.
First, there is the work of the farmer. He sowed good seed and the seed began to grow. God is indeed at work in our lives and the desire behind the sowing of the seed is that we might grow. Grow to maturity and eventually to harvest but also to grow and multiply. Again, Friday’s podcast put this brilliantly.
Second is the work of the enemy; the enemy arrives and sneaks a seed into the same field. In doing research for this podcast, time and time again the books make mention of the original wording used here. It’s a seed called zizania. It’s not like a simple weed like the ones we battle in our gardens. Wheat farmers would have been sure to have known about it. It grows alongside wheat but when it came to maturity there would be no grain, just a stalk. For a very long time it would look similar to the good seed. But in the end it would be just a stalk. Growing alongside the wheat… competing for space and food in the field.
There is a subversive force in the world that wants to undermine the work of God. The battle is real but sometimes it is not often clear. I am borrowing this idea off a friend earlier in the week but I have forgotten who to give credit to! They told me the spiritual battle we are in is not like World War 2. There the battle lines are clearly marked, the trenches dug and the task was to defeat those in a clearly coloured opposing uniform. Our battle is more subtle than that. It is against the forces of influence in this world and in our lives. Even things that are similar in principle to the zizania seed. Things that grow up among the good habits and influences in our lives but in time have been revealed to be unhealthy forms of the real thing. For example, friends who have perhaps been great counsellors in the past but are no longer helping us become more like Jesus. The battle is subtle sometimes, but we are not helpless.
Finally, we see the patience of the farmer in this story. We really see it in verses 29 & 30. Don’t pull them out. Let them grow. Then sort it out. Burn up the bad. Bring in the good. People have asked the farmer, what should we do about this situation? The farmer’s reaction to the work of the enemy is to be patient and to be watchful. In this story things are confused. There are things to discern. But in time there will be judgement. Eventually we will be able to judge between the wheat and the weeds and action then needs to be taken.
In this story there are two crops happening at the same time. Two seeds fighting for a place. Ultimately one that is of use. There will be situations today where it is not always clear what is required of us. What the right thing to do is. Together let’s ask for the wisdom of God. Like those approaching the farmer asking for advice, sometimes the answer is clear and sometimes patience is required. It is not by mistake that Jesus is using a farming illustration. This journey of discipleship, knowing what Jesus knows and becoming who it is that Jesus is, takes time.
But God is at work planting seeds.
We are not naive to the battle.
We are learning to be patient and we are watchful as we talk with Jesus.
Father, we ask for wisdom for the day ahead. Thank you for these written words in the Bible. Would they be of help to us today. In any situations of uncertainty that we may face today, would you give us direction and patience. In Jesus name… Amen.
READING: Matthew 13:24-43
Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared.
‘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?”
‘“An enemy did this,” he replied.
‘The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”
‘“No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 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.”’
He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.’
He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough.’
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
‘I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.’
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.’
He answered, ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 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, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
‘As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 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. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.