Wheat and Weeds
by pastor Andy Lauer
Each of these devotional blogs entries is meant to be read on your own or if you have family or friends you live with, to be read together aloud. A suggestion is to do this after you have dinner around the table together. At the conclusion, please spend time in personal reflection or in sharing with one another your answers to the questions at the end. Be sure to conclude with prayer.
Read Matthew 13:24-30
Years ago, a good friend of mine and I took it upon ourselves to visit the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs. By “visit the top” I do not mean that we drove to the top or took the cog railway. I mean that we decided to hike on foot to the top of the mountain. The summit of the mountain stands at 14,115 feet above sea level—only 300 feet below the tallest mountain in Colorado. For two young men who grew up on the flat, fertile farmland of the Midwest, we had very little idea what to expect. Things like cutbacks, tree line, oxygen deprivation, and altitude sickness were not things we were familiar with—at least not on a personal, experiential level. Learning about those things before we went helped us handle the challenges we faced over the two days we took to ascend the peak.
After God resurrected Jesus from the dead, thus conquering sin and death, the Bible tells us in Acts 1:3, that Jesus “appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” In other words, He continued teaching the same message that He taught them before His death and Resurrection: living as followers of Jesus in God’s Kingdom.
In Matthew's gospel, chapter 13, Jesus shares with His disciples about the contours, cutbacks, and celebrations of the Kingdom of Heaven. These parables are His instructions to them as He is preparing them both to live in and live out the Kingdom life He promised to them. What does the Kingdom look like? What does it mean to live in expectation and experience of the Kingdom? What obstacles can one expect along the path to the Kingdom? How will one recognize the summit? Jesus’ instruction is vital for His followers to hear, digest, and apply. Today, we are going to look specifically at verses 24-30 where Jesus gives insight into one of the more challenging aspects of Kingdom life: what to know about the presence of evil in the world.
In this passage, Jesus explains to His followers that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a field that contains both wheat and weeds. We read how the farmer had sown good seed in his field with the expectation of a relatively easy and uniform harvest to come. However, a jealous, bitter, and spiteful rival had sought to devastate that harvest by sowing bad seeds among the good. The ostensible genius of this plan was in the fact that both seeds would grow up together, indistinguishable from each other until it was too late. If the farm workers tried to remove the weeds once they were recognized, as the enemy hoped, they would also destroy the good crop whose roots had become entwined with the weeds’. The farmer recognized this and instructed his workers to leave both in the ground until they had both ripened and borne their fruits in the harvest. Only then would they be able to separate them—one pile for the table, the other for the furnace. In this way, the farmer outwitted his enemy.
This parable tells us many things about the contours of God’s kingdom. One of those things is that we should not be surprised that there is both good and evil in the world or that good people and evil people might grow up next to and amongst each other, even within the Church. It is all too easy to be shocked when we see the horrors of a fallen world around us, and indeed, there are many things at which to be shocked and horrified. However, as those who are living into God’s kingdom, our goal is not to eliminate all evil in the world, for there is no way to do that without also hurting the good seed. Instead, our goal is to cultivate the good seed and prepare for the harvest.
Today, ask the Holy Spirit to help you be discerning when it comes to the good and bad seed around you. Although it is not our task,or even without our power to remove all the evil around us, it is within our ability to cultivate and nourish the good around us.
Use the following to help guide you in prayer today:
Pray for the Spirit to give you wisdom and strength to support the good seed while resisting the bad seed all around you.