“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.’” (verses 27-30)
If the Kingdom of heaven has truly broken into the world in the person of Jesus, then why are things as bad as they are? Why do we see horrific, unjust wars raging? Why do so many people die from the opioid scourge? Why is there so much heartbreak still in families and relationships? Why does evil have such a foothold?
This parable of the wheat and the weeds gives us insight. Yes, the kingdom is truly breaking into the world. Jesus is making his presence known. But there is another dynamic also at work. The enemy, the devil, is still at large, wreaking havoc in human experience. We are “between the times,” waiting still for the coming day of “harvest,” the end of the age, when the Lord will bring everything to a just conclusion.
In the midst of ongoing weed-infestation, three lessons emerge:
(1) The existence of weeds doesn’t mean God isn’t at work. Indeed, it is by his choice and command that the weeds are not yet eliminated. He knows they’re there but has determined his own timing for dealing with them. Among other things (drawing on other scripture), he is allowing more time for more individuals to be drawn into the kingdom, for he “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). So trust him. He is in control – all is in his hands. Evil may seem to be running unchecked, but our Lord is sovereign.
(2) We can’t always clearly see the difference between wheat and weed. Oh, sometimes it’s obvious, but other times not so much. Apparently, there is a particular weed (“bearded darnel”) that in its early stages of growth is almost indiscernible from wheat. It’s not until the heads of the grain mature, just prior to harvest, that the difference can be clearly seen. So, too, with God’s work in people – it’s not always as clear as we’d like. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn rightly said, “The line separating good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” So, while we journey toward harvest, there is much maturing yet to be done. Meanwhile, we extend grace, realizing we can’t always see people’s status as clearly as we think.
(3) Weeds will ultimately be eliminated. The Lord is patiently waiting. But he has determined that evil will be decisively purged. Judgement will come. All will finally be set right. But it awaits the harvest day.
So, entrust it all into the Lord’s hands – he is sovereign. Be patient, as he is patient. Extend grace, just as he has extended it to you. And submit to his maturing work in your own life as we move ever closer to harvest.
Lord Jesus, thank you that your kingdom has broken into the world. But we yearn for its fullness, yearning for all things to be set right. In the meantime, give us grace to keep praying ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’ in the life of each individual we encounter. For your glory.
Reflect: Where are you most aware of the weeds? How are they affecting you? Put it all in the Lord’s hands. Trust him anew. Ask for patience and grace in this time of waiting.
Photo by Lars Schneider on Unsplash