Posted on Mon, Aug 21, 2017
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
July 23, 2017
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 “Ears, Eyes and Heart of Compassion”
The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat
24 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” 28He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Jesus Explains the Parable of the Weeds
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
How much Latin do you know? For Lutherans, we aren't too big into Latin, but there are a few phrases we need to remember. My Latin is long forgotten, so today I just want you to remember, “simul iustus et peccator.” I won't get into the grammar, but the basic meaning is that, “We are, at the same time, saint and sinner.” You will see this phrase repeated on much of Luther’s work. It removes our ability to judge… did you get that? You may think you can ‘judge’ people, but in reality, you cannot. Why? Because we are as pure as a saint, and at the same time, clothed in a red outfit, holding a pitchfork with a pointed tail… At the same moment, we are grains of wheat, filled with blessing and weeds ready to choke and strangle…
Last week Jesus went out of the house, and even into a boat in order to teach all the people that had gathered, and he told the story about grain and such… today, Jesus goes back into the house to explain he teaching about the grain and weeds.
Today's text is amazingly applicable to the world of today. Jesus begins his parable by clearly stating that, ’someone,’ meaning ”the Master,” went out to plant GOOD seed. But during the night, ‘the enemy,’ came and scattered weeds among the wheat. When the plants sprouted and began to grow the slaves saw weeds among the plants… and they immediately began to suspect, if not blame the master in saying, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?” I found this rather strange that the slaves were so quick to blame the master, and not think how absurd it would be for the master to do something intentionally damaging to the community… but they did. But the master is full of compassion and understanding and seemingly calmly states that the enemy has done this… And who is the enemy we wonder? Let’s examine that question later.
But at least the slaves offer a suggestion, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” I give them credit for offering, but if the master was growing carrots, radishes, or corn, their efforts would be welcomed. Wheat is a grass, as are most weeds, and to attempt to pick one weed without picking or damaging the wheat, would be impossible. Plus, wheat is not planted in neat rows, it grows as a ‘fields of wheat,’ not ‘rows of wheat.’ Just walking in a wheat field damages the grain.
The Master then tells the slaves, “Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” It will be the role of the master to determine what is grain or a weed. Eventually, it will be the master, and only the master who will judge and separate.
Last week, just as Jesus was about to explain the meaning of His parable, what word did he say? He said, “LISTEN.” What did it mean? Remember when Jesus says, “For those who have ears to hear, listen!” There is a special meaning to the word, “Listen.” It means to 1) Listen with a heart of compassion. 2) Listen with a heart of expectation; Expectation that God is about to do something wonderful!
In today’s parable, Jesus finishes his explanation with, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” That means he is sending the disciples out with a new understanding on who is to be judged a sinner or a saint…
We are indeed saints and sinners at the same time. The Good News that is real and tangible for me is the promise of my baptism. I am the first one who knows when I have allowed something into my mind or heart that draws me away from God. I am the first one who knows when I step away from walking with my God. The “enemy” in the text is explained when Jesus says, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers…” Don't be too quick to judge the ‘evil doers,’ unless you are prepared to ‘throw the first stone,’ but the causes of sin can be as easy to see as weeds among the grain or flowers of the garden. Some people talk about sin as an archery term, something like, ‘missing the mark.’ But we Lutherans look at the word in a relational form, ‘anything that causes us to loose sight of our Savior.’ All of us are subject to being distracted from knowing and believing we are constantly walking in the presence of Jesus. All of us are at the same time, beautiful golden wheat, or thorns that cut and scratch.
A true story: One day, there was a very large crowd gathered to collect food at ANC. I was in Ohana Lani, and then I heard a real ruckus going on at ANC. I instinctively ran outside to see what was going on. One thing I love about being a pastor in Hawaii is that the term, “Pastor” still seems to carry some respect. As soon as I entered the crowd, people exclaimed that the pastor was here. But there was a fight in the making. Let’s say we have “Little Tutu” and “Big Tutu.” Little Tutu was in a rage and she wanted to take this rather large guy to task. She was fuming angry and out of control. The man didn't want to take this, and before you knew it, you could see the man was going to show little tutu who was boss. Thankfully the people in line held the man back, and big tutu and I just held onto little tutu in a tight bear-hug. Now, big tutu was big… really big and strong. She was also calm as a cucumber throughout all of this. Big tutu grabbed little tutu and we both just held her tight and whispered to her calm down, everything was going to be all right, settle down and control yourself. Since little tutu was totally immobilized but the two of us, she eventually began to settle down, relax and get her breathing back. We thought she was back in control and we gently released her… but as soon as we released her, the anger burst forward again and she was back in attack mode. Thankfully, we blocked her way to the man and she backed off towards the highway. As she went away screaming at everyone, we had to stop the traffic so that she wouldn't get hurt. When she got to the bus stop, it was all over.
Throughout this entire time, big tutu was calm and in total control. Big tutu and I hugged. I asked her if she knew little tutu and she said, “Oh yeah, we were in prison together! I’ve known her for years. She will be okay, she is just off her meds.” At that moment, she gave me a kiss on the cheek and turned around to continue giving food to family and clients as calm as can be as if nothing happened.
Weeds and wheat? Can you judge? Jesus said, “30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Regarding Jesus gathering them together, as Jesus was hanging on the Cross what did he say? “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
We all live together in God’s most beautiful garden. We have been planted here for a purpose, a beautiful purpose. And the graceful gardener prunes, waters, and provides all we need to grow and thrive. Have no fear, do not compare, who is a weed or a grain of wheat, because at the same time we each are weed and grain. Rather, acknowledge that through the amazing grace given through the Cross of Christ, even though we act like weeds, we are judged as beautiful grain that produce wheat, rice, ulu, mango or even nori, kale, or even spinach.
The Master, the gracious gardener is our judge and redeemer, and we are all living together in this amazingly beautiful garden. Amen
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