Pentecost 8 A 2023 Wheat and Weeds
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I hate weeds. Nothing ruins a garden or a lawn quicker than a patch of weeds taking over the yard. Weeds seem to grow faster, and weeds compete with other plants for light, water, nutrients, and space.
Weeds produce an enormous number of seeds and can grow in a wide range of soils and conditions.
But worst of all, weeds can overwhelm and displace the other plants and take over the ecosystem. Thank goodness we have products today such as Roundup to help us in our battle with weeds.
I say thank goodness, because it is my desire to get rid of the weeds so I can have a healthy lawn or garden. But when I read the Gospel text for today, to my surprise, Jesus has a very different opinion concerning the weeds in our lives.
In fact, God seems to be saying to me “Not so fast with the Roundup Pastor Paul.” And, “Pastor, leave them weeds alone.” Why? Because it is not my job to separate the wheat and the weeds. And so, for now, I am told to sit back, relax, and let the wheat and the weeds “grow up” together.
I find it interesting that the Greek word used in the text for permit (or leave alone) is also the word for forgive. It could be said that the landowner is not only telling his workers to leave the weeds alone, but also to forgive the weeds for their presence and actions as well.
And the point is this. The evil that surrounds us is not for us to judge, but instead for us to forgive. Jesus Himself modeled this teaching on the cross when he prayed “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
And throughout the Bible, we have many examples of God leaving the weeds alone, and then using the weeds for His glory.
Think about it.
Jacob was a liar. Moses was a murderer. Samson was a flirt. David was an adulterer. Noah was a drunkard. Elijah was suicidal. Peter denied Jesus. Rahab was a prostitute. Saul persecuted Christians. Isaiah preached naked. The Samaritan woman was divorced 5 times.
I can go on and on about the weeds that infiltrated God’s good creation. But God never gave up on these people. And today we “lift up” many of these individuals as an example for us to follow in our journey of faith.
An early judgement by God would have meant that they would have been cut off from His grace. But God stood by them. And God did not ignore them or regard them as hopeless. These characters may well have looked like weeds, but in God’s eyes they were wheat.
One lesson that our parable is teaching us today is to not write anyone off as hopeless, or lost, or worthless because he or she may look like a weed. Even though our gut reaction may be to treat someone as a weed, that person may very well be wheat in God’s Kingdom.
The second lesson we can draw from our text today is that as Christians we are wheat. That is how God views us. Even when the power of the evil one influences our decisions, even when sin penetrates our lives, God refuses to write us off.
God loves us so much that He allowed His only begotten Son to die for us, so that we might be seen as wheat worthy of the harvest. Due to God’s Redeeming Activity on the Cross, we are forgiven, we are welcomed, and we are accepted into God’s warm embrace forever.
A third lesson we can learn from our text today is that while God’s judgment is perfect, our judgment is not perfect. All we can do is look at each other with compassion and remember that we are all sinners in the sight of God.
Yes, we are responsible for the hurt and pain that we cause in this world, and we will suffer the consequences of our actions. If we murder, steal, lie, cheat, or commit any offense that is a sin against God or each other we will end up living in the mess we create. But God is God of mercy, a God who is slow to anger, a God who abounds in steadfast love.
Scripture informs us if we confess our sins, God has promised that He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We do not need to spray “Roundup” on each other. We do not need to take matters into our hands. We do not need to eliminate the weeds. God has promised that at the appropriate time the Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all evil doers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be gnashing of teeth. And then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Yes. I hate weeds, because nothing ruins a garden or a lawn faster than a patch of weeds in the yard. And I hate the way sin destroys our lives and our world.
Even so, I know that I am powerless against the influence of the evil one. And weeds sprout up in every corner of my life. Thankfully we do not face the weeds alone. God Himself has sent someone to take on the weeds. And that person is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray: Almighty God, you have taught us through Christ that love fulfills the law. May we love you with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, and may we love our neighbors as ourselves; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.