Shovels in the Ground (Matthew 13:34-35)

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Having written how Jesus told the crowd the parable of the sower, the  parable of the  weeds, the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven, Matthew interjects, “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.””  

Psalm 78 (a maskil of Asaph) opens with, “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old— what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their forefathers— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.” 

The parables Jesus is teaching the crowds are things hidden since the creation of the world, but all the same they were clearly revealed in the Word of God to Israel. Israel was not kept in the dark about the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He had done. They were not kept from knowing His statutes and law. Yet the people Christ encountered in His day lived as though they were. They seemed oblivious to all the Scripture testified about how the kingdom of heaven was spread, how it grew or the immense value of it. Subsequently, they did not live as though God was doing something miraculous through them. They lived as though they were regular people going about regular lives, even though the Word clearly taught that they were not!  They had been chosen of God to be a light to all nations (Isa 42:6, 49:6, 51:4, 60:3). They had been chosen of God to shine forth over all the earth as the sun shines to all peoples (Ps 50:2, Isa 62:1). Yet they went about their lives as though all that mattered was their own happiness, even though God had clearly expected them to produce growth and fruitfulness to His glory (Ps 80:8, Isa 5:2, 61:11, Jer 2:21, Ezk 16:7). 

Consequently, Jesus speaks to them in parables. On account of their deafness to His direct Word, it becomes as He had just told them, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”  The direct teaching of God to them is reduced to allusion to ordinary life. No doubt it was His hope that they would be so intrigued by the parables that they would muse over them to the point of awareness, because they certainly had not thought through His explicit teaching. 

It is a sobering lesson to those who are reading Matthew’s Gospel, and as clear a call to obedience as any commandment. We are to be spreading the kingdom of heaven, not merely reading about it!

It’s never easy to transcend the gravity of culture. The church, made up of nothing but ordinary people, always reflects the values of Canaan about as much as the law of Israel.

Donald McCullough

APPLICATION: Intentionality

At a certain point the decision to act for God’s glory must be taken. The thinking about it, the praying about it and the planning in our minds must bear the fruit of action, or we willing waste all of it. 

Naturally (Matthew 13:33)

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Jesus has told the crowd the parable of the sower, the parable of the weeds  and the  parable of the mustard seed. Now He shares the parable of the leaven: “He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.””

A sprouting seed (the parable of the sower), a growing plant (the parables of the weeds and the mustard seed) and a leavening dough ball (the parable of the leaven) all have several qualities in common. They get bigger, and they make virtually no noise. They flash no lights, they send up no smoke. They are all quiet. So much so, that unless you were watching them over time you would not notice it at all. 

Likewise, the kingdom of heaven spreads best when done quietly. Remember that it is a normal, natural and expected thing that a seed sprouts in good soil and that yeast spreads in dough. These things do not need inorganic chemicals or catalytic boosts of energy to get them going. They just happen. 

Evangelism and mission are not meant to be big productions, nor are they meant to be exhausting work. All too often people are taught that to do the work of evangelism you need to be smarter or more educated that those you speak to, or that you need to wow your subject with some kind of song and dance. But we don’t pray for lost people by shouting it through a megaphone, and neither should we witness to people at the top of our lungs. Telling others about answers to prayer and sharing what God has done for lost and broken people is best done without fireworks and parades. The vast majority of people in the kingdom of heaven did not get there because someone shouted at them. Perhaps that works on occasion, but it is not the norm. 

Rather, most enter the kingdom of heaven through a witness of Jesus who in a normal conversation or when they read God’s Word, proclaimed through silent print. So too the sharing of Christ from one individual to another is usually a pretty quiet activity. It is something normally done one on one, or one to a small group at a time. In this respect it  demands no professional accreditation and no means of amplification.

When you pray for the lost around you, you must know that God is keenly interested in answering that prayer. In fact, He is as interested in answering that prayer as He is in seeing that seeds sprout (and they do when they are planted), that plants grow (and they do) or yeast multiplies (and it does). In other words, God has ordained that it should happen. So when we pray for the lost, we must expect that God orchestrates circumstance to bring about a natural opportunity for us to bear witness of Him. That witness might be as unassuming as a kind gesture, a small help or a polite conversation. How it comes to pass we do not exactly know, but we do know that God will make a way for the Good News to be shared just as He makes a way for the plant to break out of the seed and the yeast to multiply. 

We don’t need to force that, and we don’t even really need to train for it per se. We just need to cooperate with Him in it (that’s our soil – own walk with Him), seek Him for it (that’s prayer and faithfulness in sowing) and be ready for when it does happen (that’s bearing witness and reaping).

Paul […] says that ‘the kingdom of God is not concerned with material things like food and drink, but with goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Roma.ns 14:17), thereby linking it inseparably with moral choices and personal spirituality.

John Drane

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

God uses all of us as we pray and act in faith. It is our faith mixed with intentionality and perseverance that grows the kingdom of God, not academic degrees or the size of our pulpit. 

Yeast (Matthew 13:33)

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Having told the crowd the parable of the sower, the parable of the weeds and the   parable of the mustard seed, Jesus goes on to share one more; “He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”” 

Like the other parables, this is an exceedingly simple illustration taken from normal and ordinary life. While the wealthy could buy bread already made, the poor need to grow their own wheat and knead their own dough. Stories of subsistence farming and the most basic food preparation are therefore stories of accessibility. You don’t need much to participate in the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of heaven doesn’t need much from those who participate in it, only participation!

In western culture it is common for disciples of Jesus to excuse themselves from needing to participate in evangelism or church activity. They reason that such is the domain of others. Some immature disciples think evangelism and church activity is better when it is limited to the highly trained professional or the specially gifted. They might think that church ministry is exclusive to men or not applicable to their field of labor, but Jesus’ parables teach very much otherwise. 

In fact, while Jesus’ last three parables have centred on a man working a field, this one does not. Lest the crowd (or the reader) get the impression that only men can work in the kingdom – or that the kingdom of heaven is strictly an activity limited to the workplace – Jesus now uses a woman in a domestic setting. Yet just as the other parables, the idea of unnoticeably subtle but altogether undeniable transformation is very much present. 

One must grasp that our gender and our place of labor do not limit the Gospel from being effective. A woman who shares Jesus with her family can be just as effective for the Lord as a man sharing Jesus with a coworker (and visa versa).

One also cannot help but note that the activity of the people in Jesus’ parables is not an exclusive domain. There might be professional bakers, but anyone can make a loaf of bread. There might be professional farmers, but anyone can plant a single seed of mustard, or throw seed over a field. These things are not exclusive to the highly trained. Likewise, even a single hour-old Christ-follower can share what Jesus has done for them. In fact, usually the brand new Christian is more effective at sharing what Jesus has done, because at that point they are still completely accepted by their unbelieving friends and family and therefore have a more receptive audience. 

The things Jesus uses in His parables are also not exclusive to the wealthy. Sowing and planting and kneading dough require virtually no education, certainly no formal education. Everyone can serve Jesus in some capacity in the local church. Whoever we are and whatever station we have in life, we can and should be used of God both outside and inside the church!

The Scripture says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” (1 Jn 5:1). The kingdom – and participation in the kingdom – is for everyone.

Marcus Verbrugge

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Sometimes the answer to our prayer for help comes from the most unlikely of people from our perspective, but always from exactly the right person from God’s perspective. 

Shelter (Matthew 13:32)

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The mustard seed had a unique use in the days of Christ. On account of its size, it was   often used as a point of comparison. To remark that something was, “As small as a mustard seed,” was to point out the insignificance of something that yet existed and so could not be denied. In this respect it was the ‘smallest of all seeds.’ Not that it was literally the smallest, but that in the common vocabulary it referred to the smallest. 

Such a use of language is particularly fitting to a parable. If Jesus was narrating historical/physical fact, it would be untrue for Him to say, “Though it is the smallest of all your seeds.” But in the language of parable, it was absolutely true. Likewise then, when we hear Jesus referring to the birds of the air coming to perch/nest in its branches, we must hear what He is really intending for us to hear. 

The idea of birds perching or nesting in branches is a Scriptural metaphor for the protection that something great offers to those who submit to it. As the prophet Ezekiel once wrote, “Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage….All the birds of the air nested in its boughs, all the beasts of the field gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade.”  This much is true. Assyria was a world power that gave military and economic protection to those who allied themselves with it. So likewise Daniel used the same image for the Babylonians – rightly understanding it from a dream King Nebuchadnezzar had, “The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air—you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.” Even King David once used this image of God’s kingdom, singing, “The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests.” 

So when Jesus gives us the parable of the mustard seed and says, “Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches,” He is deliberately invoking the lesson of all these prior prophesies. As one commentator noted, “Regarded as a prophecy, the parable is partially fulfilled every time that a heathen nation places itself under the protection of a Christian nation, and more truly fulfilled whenever a nation accepts Christianity as its own religion.

Yet while they can be prophetic (as this one is) parables are not primarily prophesy. Primarily they are spiritual truth, and the truth is that God’s Kingdom provides shelter and protection for all who come into it!

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

Proverbs 18:10

APPLICATION: Intentionality

With God there is safety, security and shelter for all who come to Him. 

Growing Large (Matthew 13:31-32)

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Jesus has now told the crowd two parables. Both explain the kingdom of heaven. But   knowing that they should be “ever hearing but never understanding…ever seeing but never perceiving,”  Jesus goes on to give them more teaching; “He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”” 

A parable is a story with a point. While largely true to life, parables are not narrative or historic, so while the point has a factual parallel, aspects of the story do not need to adhere to actual fact. Actually, it is the reality that aspects of the story do NOT adhere to physical reality that makes them a parable to start with! Otherwise they would be historic stories, or narratives of everyday life. So when we read this parable, we need to understand that Jesus is not saying a particular individual once took a mustard seed and planted it in their field. He is saying that the kingdom of heaven is LIKE the mustard seed in this story. 

Yet the mustard seed in this story is unlike any mustard seed anyone has ever planted. For while mustard plants can grow large – and in the middle east some might become the largest of what you would typically have in your garden – they do not grow into trees. Some species may even be large bushes, but they do not become trees. This is a fact; there is no such thing as a mustard tree! However, this mustard seed does inexplicably become a tree. 

In that aspect, the kingdom of heaven is unlike anything we typically experience. While it initially does what we expect it to (that is, grow from a seed to a plant), it winds up doing what we do not think is even possible (growing from a plant to a tree). This is to the benefit of all involved, because that which is of God stays as a unified whole, just as a tree is one being having one source, and not merely a collection of individuals with their own sources. Moreover, what is of the earth grows only for a season, produces a little fruit and then dies. But what is of the kingdom of heaven grows and produces fruit season after season after season. It never dies, but simply re-blooms. It is literally fruit that lasts.

This is a profound spiritual truth. When a manifestation of the kingdom of heaven appears – be it a church or kingdom business or some other expression – it grows far beyond all reasonable expectation. Just as Abraham’s family grew from a single boy (Isaac) to a dozen (the sons of Jacob) and then to millions (becoming an entire nation), so also the church grows from a single believer to an uncountable number wherever it is planted. And be it church or kingdom business, we can know that only what is of the kingdom of heaven does that to the blessing of all involved, and continues to do that to the blessing of all involved – season after season after season! 

We learn from the Mishnah, Judaism’s most prominent book after the OT, that the mustard seed was banned from gardens in Jerusalem because it was a despicable invasive weed. As David Buttrick explains, the parable “seems to be a deliberate burlesque of the mighty cedar of Lebanon, a symbol of national power and triumph. Instead of a mighty cedar, Jesus pictures a weed, indeed, a weed regarded as a public nuisance.”

Dean B. Deppe

APPLICATION: Intentionality

God’s Kingdom has no end. It grows continually, even in difficult seasons. So too, His Work in us causes more Christlikeness to appear – even in difficult seasons. 

Still Waiting (Matthew 13:27-30

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The parable of the weeds ends with an ominous threat to the weeds; “The owner’s   servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” 

In seeking to understand a parable, there is a risk that the reader will over-spiritualize and read into the parable things that are not the primary point. In this case the order of the harvesting, the tying of weeds into bundles and other minor facts are all extra to the point of the parable and therefore not the focus. Rather, the focus is that the end (harvest time) inevitably comes, and when it comes, the weeds have one fate, the wheat has another. 

All through the Scripture, God’s people wrestle with the problem of evil, and the difficulty of watching evil people seem to live prosperous lives. Job asks, “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?”  The Psalmist notes, “In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak… in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous… he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”  Jeremiah says, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” Habbakuk goes so far as to question God about this point, “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” 

Weeds tend to grow much faster than the plants they are among. Their leaves push out, taking the sunlight from the smaller plants. They seem to soar toward the sun while the other plants struggle. It all seems so wrong. But then the harvester comes, and the weeds are abruptly pulled up. Knowing that they will just re-root themselves if they are displaced, the harvester collects them in bundles and burns them, destroying not only the weed, but the seeds of the weed at the same time. Thus all the weed’s hopes die with it. Yet the wheat does not have the same fate. Their hopes are fully realized. While their growing condition may have been difficult, in the end they are placed in the master’s storehouse. Some will be used for blessing and others for replanting, and none of it is lost. As Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” 

God does everything that He wants; let us therefore comfort ourselves in our adversities. And if God does not help us at first, let us wait on Him; we will not be disappointed.

John Calvin

APPLICATION: Worship

The story of Noah, the story of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, the story of Rahab in Jericho – all these and many others remind us that God does not sweep away the righteous with the wicked. He cares for and rescues His own, even if all around are weeds being pulled up!

Waiting (Matthew 13:27-29)

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Jesus told the story of a field owner who saw weeds coming up among the wheat he had   sowed. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.’” 

Each of us has people in our sphere of influence who are not walking with the Lord. Some we come across are not only oblivious to the benefit of knowing Christ, they are actively antagonistic, even hostile toward us. Occasionally they make our lives difficult and our circumstance stressful. We pray for them and look for opportunities to witness for His sake, hoping all along that they will make that decision that will change their outlook immediately and their eternity forever. We want that for them for both their sake and our own – so they will know the peace of God and also no longer fill our lives with grief. 

Thankfully, some will make that decision while they remain in our circles of influence. For this we praise God and are grateful for His grace and mercy. But some will not make that decision while we know them. In fact, some will simply refuse God’s grace unto their last dying breath and will do all they can while they breathe to make our lives difficult. For this we do not praise God. Knowing the dead are beyond repentance, we lament for a season, even if we do silently thank God that our lives are slightly easier because the pain they caused is finally over. 

One might wonder why God did not ‘take out’ that person earlier. After all, God (who knows the future and the past) would’ve known that they would not repent. He could have taken them out earlier. He could have, but He did not. He did not shorten the lives of those who tormented Him on the cross, and He does not shorten the lives of those who similarly torment us. 

No doubt God uses such individuals to cause spiritual growth and fruitfulness in those they inflicted. For “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Some would not have the spiritual character they now have as a result of knowing that person and the difficulty that relationship wrought. Some would not be worthy of all the majesty and glory they are being assigned on the other side of the resurrection, but for the hardships they endured at the hands of evil people while still on this side. 

Of course, it is not that such a person is nothing but fertilizer for the wheat around them. Every reader of Scripture discovers that God is long suffering, kind and patient. This is part of His glory – that He is full of grace for even the most disobedient – and He is zealous for His glory. It is also God’s blessing on those they were close to. For an individual may be a bit of an ogre to many, but that individual still had a family of some kind. The still had a mother. That individual still meant something to someone, and in God’s mercy and kindness to them, He does not deign to inflict them with even more suffering. To pull up that weed early would’ve meant causing undue harm. The wheat around them would’ve been damaged. The wheat they were related to would’ve been choked off, and the harvest would’ve been lessened as a result. 

In all things, God’s timing is nothing less than perfect. 

Christ will be a most strict avenger of the injuries which the wicked inflict upon us.

John Calvin

APPLICATION: Worship

God is gracious, kind and long-suffering. But He is also holy and just, and He is coming to establish His rule forever. Let us humble ourselves before Him!

Thistles (Matthew 13:24-28)

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“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed   good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.”

Everyone who has ever planted a garden knows that when you put good seeds in the ground, not everything that sprouts will be revealed as the plants you were expecting. Some small sprouts that come up will eventually put forth leaves or fruit that reveals them as weeds. How the weeds got into the soil seems a mystery. We can scientifically conclude that they were either blown in by the wind or mixed into the soil from the outset, but the point is the same: The sower of the weeds is unseen to the observer, just as the sower of the good seeds is unseen to the plants themselves. To the objective onlooker, both are as invisible as the thoughts of the person sitting next to them.

Most everyone at some point experiences either the hatred of an evil person or a set of circumstances that appear very directed against them. These occasions raise questions in our minds on the quandary of evil – questions that a great number of books attempt to answer. Why do bad things happen to good people? Where did evil come from? How does someone become a bad person? Jesus’ parable of the weeds tells us that the answer to those questions is not so much how and where and why, but rather, “Who?” 

The language Jesus uses for ‘enemy’ in this parable means an adult person or persons who hate another and wishes them injury. The parable pointedly teaches that the kingdom of heaven has an enemy. That enemy is unseen by the sons of the kingdom just as their creator is unseen. But both are very real and both have obviously been at work. As AW Tozer wrote, “There are two spirits in the earth, the Spirit of God and the spirit of Satan, and these are at eternal enmity.” So Jesus later explains, “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.”

The Scripture tells us that God’s enemy appeared in the garden of Eden and corrupted God’s perfect creation by planting seeds of doubt in the minds of both Eve and Adam. So the enemy has likewise been at work in every field of God, including the field of our own lives and community. Those God made in His image have a daily – almost thought by thought – decision to make. We can feed on and believe what the enemy tells us about ourselves and our world and eventually be revealed as sons of the evil one, or we can feed on and believe what God tells us about ourselves and our world and eventually be revealed as sons of the Kingdom. After all, thoughts lead to actions just as actions lead to habits and habits to character. The question is not “Where did evil come from?,” but, “Will I sow godly thoughts or unclean ones?,” because eventually, those thoughts will lead to behavior that everyone can see and character that God will judge. 

Every day we are confronted with choices — to do right or to do wrong, to be honest or dishonest, to be loving or to be indifferent, to forgive or to go on holding a grudge, to speak of Christ or to be silent, to go do my assignment or to put it off, to go to follow God’s leading to the mission field or to stay home. And every day there are obstacles to making the right choice: fear, pride, addiction to comfort — and these come in all shapes and sizes.

John Piper

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Ultimately it is a question of whether we want to draw near to God or stay away from Him. As James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Unhelpful (Matthew 13:24-26)

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In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells a story of a farmer who goes out to  sow his seed.  The people largely don’t understand what they are hearing. They know it is truth and that there is power in it, but they can’t put their finger on it. The full application of the truth of the parable is beyond their grasp. Jesus does explain the parable to His disciples though, saying, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” The disciples of Jesus – those who follow Him – are given insight to the full spiritual truth. Those who come to see but not to follow are simply not given that truth. This is the will of God, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

As if to emphasis that point, Jesus tells them another parable that also involves a farmer, a field and seed to be sowed. Except whereas the previous parable focused on the soil the farmer was sowing in, this one focuses on the experience that the farmer has in sowing, because he finds the resultant crop is a mixture of both good plants and bad plants. To that end this parable is called the parable of the weeds: “Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.””

Later, Jesus will give His disciples the full interpretation of the parable. Yet the implication is very clear from the outset; The parable illustrates that on account of the enemy, the field we sow in does not yield all harvestable material. 

Weeds grow in the same place as good plants, but weeds care nothing for the plants around them. Like all plants, they need and want light wand water. But weeds aren’t satisfied with the same provision as others. They hoard light and water unto themselves. They rush to be the tallest, broadest and largest of their surrounding brethren. One might describe them as selfish and proud. Worse, though they grow in the farmer’s field, they care nothing for the farmer at all. They have no intention of producing the kind of fruit the farmer wants. In fact, if they can, they will try to injure any who dare to grace them with touch. They live only to self-sow even more unhelpfulness.

Obviously the plants living next to weeds do not possess sight as the farmer has sight, so they cannot see as the farmer sees. But Jesus isn’t telling this parable to plants. He is telling it to His disciples – to people who can and must recognize when others who purport to be ‘in the kingdom’ are not of the kingdom

Every lifelong Gospel minister knows the profound truth this parable communicates. We work in God’s field, which we expect will be full of good people. But some we come across in our work are not helpful to the cause at all. Though they count themselves among God’s people and claim they stand for truth and speak truth and belong to the light, the people they interact with on a regular basis are not better off for engagement with them. Such people leave everyone near to them discouraged, disappointed and distraught – and all the more as time goes on. Worse, they are oblivious to their own impact as they care only for themselves. 

Still, they are part of the congregation, and often have been there since the start. As such, they cannot be uprooted without causing great distress. What then are we do do? Our Lord commands, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” We must yet tenderly care for the whole field, until the day of harvest comes. 

See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient.

James, brother of Jesus (from James 5:7-8)

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Our purpose is only blessing. Judgment belongs to God alone.