Sermon Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 “Seeds and Weeds” July 20, 2014
Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 “Seeds and Weeds” July 20, 2014
No one could ever accuse me of being a gardener. I lose more plants than I grow. My efforts at successful healthy houseplants are nearly as futile as my attempts to grow plants outside. With that said, I have had one great indoor plant success. I have a very healthy and very large African violet, which because the species is so particular, will only grow in front of one window in one room I never use and whose door is rarely open. Go figure. So I don’t even get the daily pleasure of looking at this beautiful plant unless I take the time to actually meet it on its own turf, so to speak.
This year, back around Mother’s Day, my oldest son David and family gave me yet another African violet. Outwardly, I thanked them for the gift; inwardly, I groaned. Yet another plant likely to seek out that same one window, which seemed to be the only window in the house to nurture African violets. Not wanting to give in so quickly to experience, I tried placing the little plant in the hallway by the kitchen door. Nope, didn’t work. Then I tried putting it in front of the living room bay window…there was a lot of light there but, apparently, not the right kind of light. The plant drooped. I tried my office, the kitchen window, and even sat it on the dining room table but the plant just wouldn’t respond. It didn’t produce flowers and its leaves became ominously brown at the edges. So, finally, giving in I put the little plant next to the healthy big one in the favored window in the guest room. It seems to like it there.
We all have our plant stories. As human beings, gardening is in our makeup and Matthew; the recorder of this parable, which Jesus tells his disciples, knew this. He would have relished this weeds and seeds tale because the audience for his gospel was Jewish. They were the recipients of the ancient creation story in which God brought forth humanity from breath and dust.
Jesus, as a Jew, also knew of this ancient story – a tale in which a garden is created out of nothing becoming a place of serenity and perfection. He would know how sin entered the world and how this would lead to brokenness and loss. Where there had been bountiful and nurturing seed, weeds had invaded in the form of evil and this harvest of evil in the midst of goodness and growth would be, for all time, a nagging and perplexing human dilemma. The perfect image God had envisioned would swing precariously on a broken vine and a wisp of trampled wheat ultimately symbolizing renewed hope in the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ.
So, Jesus informs his listeners and intrigued, they question the sense of it all – this also, a human dilemma. We question those things we fail to understand about our world, our purpose, and our fate. We question a world in which bad things happen and rarely to those we would expect such things to happen. Jesus parable of the good seed and the destructive weed is a descriptive metaphor of the potential for hypocrites to sow deceit, gossip, slander and violence into a world God had prepared to be good. And like the farmers in this parable, we want to blast the bad away not realizing that to do so might destroy the good with the bad. So wisely, the field owner…that is, God advises a policy of temperance and patience. It is not our rules or our policies, not our counter attacks or our belief statements that will unearth the weedy and spoiled soil. God alone is judge and in due time, it will be God’s will and wisdom, which will right the world. If we wait on God’s time to unearth the weeds among us, we may see God’s action and realize as Ellsworth Kalas puts it, “wheat is always wheat and a weed is always a weed, but not so with people.” He goes on to say, “The person I think a weed today may prove, somewhere down the road, to be a better plant than I am. In my zeal to clean up the field I may be highly premature in my judgment. What looks today like a weed may in truth be nothing other than an immature blade of wheat. Give it time, farmer! More important, don’t let your pride in the quality of your farming destroy your understanding of the Great Householder’s grace.”
Truth be told, our fields are probably sowed with mixed seed. Some of our behavior reveals our desire to live as Christ calls us to live; some reveals the fact that we live in a fallen, broken state where our own hypocritical behavior may be hurtful to others and their sown fields. Our faith lives are forever a mix of right and wrong, good thinking and poor action, the best of intentions and the worst of behavior. Knowing this, we know one more thing about ourselves. As surely as we point out fault in another, with a bit of reflection, we may find (and often do find) the same fault in ourselves. Gratefully, the field of our lives will not be harvested of this crop of good and bad until God decides it is time. And it is in God’s own time, we find forgiveness and renewed hope. (Congregation sings, “In His Time” # 2203)
 Parables from the Back Side, Bible Stories with a Twist, J. Ellsworth Kalas, 44.