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Thriving in a Field of Weeds, A Parable

What do you think is most frustrating for gardeners? It could be plant-destroying insects, or maybe too little rain, or possibly varmints eating the plants. Jesus told a parable about a farmer who had a serious problem with weeds! And the worst part was that some bad actor had purposely sowed those weeds in his field.

In the Parable of the Weeds, captured in Matthew 13, someone had gone into the farmer’s field at night and sowed weeds among his wheat.  And this wasn’t just any weed; Jesus was likely referring to a weed called darnel that appeared to be wheat while it was sprouting and growing. It wasn’t until it was fully mature that the two could be clearly distinguished.

In Jesus’ time, sowing darnel in someone’s field was a way for enemies to destroy a farmer’s livelihood because it was catastrophic to his crop. In fact, sowing darnel in someone’s field as an act of revenge was so common that the Romans had to criminalize it. Something particularly devastating about this weed was that it was a poisonous grain. If it was mixed in with the wheat when it was harvested, it would destroy the entire harvest!  

When the servants saw that the wheat had been contaminated, they went straight to the farmer to see if he wanted them to go ahead and pluck the weeds from the wheat. But he wisely told them to wait, not wanting to risk pulling up the good crop of wheat with the weeds. So the two plants were permitted to grow together until the harvest, then they would be separated with the weeds being bundled and burned and the wheat gathered to go into the farmer’s barn.  

How do we interpret this parable? Jesus’ disciples wanted some explanation too, so they asked Him about it and Jesus answered! (Ref. Matthew 13:36-43) Jesus explains that He, the Son of Man, is the sower of the good seed and that the good wheat seeds are His faithful followers. He teaches that the field is the world and that the sower of the weeds is the devil and the weeds are those who belong to him.  

Jesus makes clear that there will come a time when the lawbreakers will face judgement, like the weeds thrown into the fiery furnace. Jesus was very clear that the nature of judgement will not be pretty; it will include “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But then, there is the beautiful climax of this parable: “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear!”  

Clearly this story is of paramount importance and eternal significance for everyone on this earth. The aim of this parable is to distinguish between those who embrace Christ and those who embrace culture. There should be a discernible difference, which can clearly be seen at maturity.  The truth is, Christ meets us right where we are but He doesn’t leave us there; He makes us just like Him! We are being transformed to become more like Him in every way!  2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:2

Throughout our faith journey, as we mature, Christ is transforming us, changing us, making us into the fully devoted followers that He longs for us to be. That word “transformed” is where we get our English word for “metamorphosis.” God is morphing us into mature followers of Jesus in the same way that a creepy caterpillar transforms into a glorious butterfly! The theological term for that process is called “sanctification.”  

One question people like to ask, and this parable leads to it, is: “When will Jesus return again?” And the answer is: Nobody knows, though it could be at any moment! (Ref. Acts 1:6-7; Mark 13:32-33). So get ready and stay ready! But while Jesus gave no indication as to when He would return, what He did offer was complete clarity about what we as His followers are to do while we wait; we are to be His witnesses! (Ref. Acts 1:8)

There are two questions that may be far more important to ask than “When is Jesus coming back?” 1) “Am I ready when Jesus returns or when my days on this earth are over?” and 2) “Have I done all I can to prepare others that I know and love for Jesus’ return or the end of their days?”  Until God calls us home or until Jesus returns, our work here is not yet done!”

Question: Are there those in your life right now who may be pulled from the harvest at harvest time? There is still time, before their time is up, to lead them to Jesus. We are called to be His witnesses.

What does a witness do? A witness shares what they know, what they’ve seen, what they’ve experienced….  They share the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6. So let’s be Christ’s witnesses in this dark world!

For much more, including how to thrive as wheat among weeds in this world, click here to watch: The Parables - Part 2 - The Parable of the Weeds


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