Let us pray: Dear Savior, every day we get disheartened by world events. Evil seems to be on the march. Innocent people are caught up in its maelstrom and even killed. So many of Your ancient prophecies seem be to coming true that we fear for ourselves and our children. Where is justice? Where is goodness? But instead of standing by and wringing our hands, move us today we turn back to You all the more, to take up our crosses and follow You, and to take comfort in Your Divine judgment to come. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO WILL JUDGE ALL PEOPLE WITH PERFECT JUSTICE!
TEXT: Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43
“You reap what you sow.” Those words by Jesus are once more being played out across the globe. There’s a famous quote that goes: “Evil triumphs when good men stand by and do nothing.” Today the Christian community numbering over 300,000 is being slaughtered in Iraq by Muslim militants. Women are being raped, men murdered, and even children are being slaughtered. The Christian bishop of that group has sent out a mass appeal for help. I guess we’ll see how the world responds. We’ll see how many world leaders end up with the blood of those children on their hands?
Where does this evil come from and what can we do about it? That has always been the question and the quandary for believers of every generation. Our lesson today provides some answers to it.
After speaking last Sunday’s parable of the Sower and the Seed in which Jesus reminds us to always keep trying to prepare the soil of human hearts for His seed of living grace, Christ goes on to give them today’s parable. It’s a hard one. It’s one we’d rather not hear or experience. Yet, it is life in a nutshell and it also provides tremendous comfort to a believer in a world filled with evil.
Wheat seeds and tares, or the weed seeds referred to here, produce a totally different crop. But, after they sprout and when they are small they appear to be the same thing. It’s only when they get big that the wheat is obvious and the weeds are obvious, too. Yes, evil hides. It appears innocuous. But once it has a foothold, it quickly takes over and crowds out everything else. Think of crabgrass and you’ll get the picture. These weed seeds turn regular wheat into a deadly concoction. They poison the flour. That’s why you cannot just harvest them all together and blissfully go on your way baking bread and eating it. You’ll get sick, or worse.
Well, it seems an enemy, in this case the devil, crept out at night and spread these weed seeds into a newly sown wheat field. It was only after they were all merrily growing along that the problem became apparent. What should be done? The disciples had no answer. If you rip up the tares the wheat will also be destroyed. So, Christ then says: “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Later, in applying the spiritual meaning to all this, Jesus says it’s a picture of judgment day. At that time the angels will gather the evil people of this world and consign them to hell and then carefully gather the believers to be taken into heaven. There, “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Right here is a macro picture of human existence. We usually are focused on the micro picture, the daily stuff of our lives—work, kids, home, health, and wealth. We focus on that because it’s very real and we can do something about it—sometimes. But that little world lies inside of another far bigger world: the macro one. And all that global “stuff” is overwhelming! We feel powerless to help someone in trouble on the other side of the earth. So, we often do nothing to try to influence that macro picture. We’re scared to try. We just want to pass our time in reasonable rest and quietness…..
I garden. I don’t have a big field of wheat, but I do have a couple of small plots of vegetables. Uprooting all the crab grass on the church property is an impossible task for me to handle. I don’t even try. However, I do weed my little plots and tug and pull it out when I find it there. So it must be with your heart. When you find the weeds of sin, evil, growing within you need to uproot them. If you’re careful you won’t hurt the tomato plant or the lettuce. In fact, it will help them grow even stronger. But if you fail to do so, if you do nothing, the crab grass will take over everything and you’ll go hungry come harvest time.
But, Pastor, aren’t we told here to leave it all up to God? Well, I looked up the word: repentance (which means change, uprooting evil within you) in my big Bible concordance. God’s Word has a couple hundred references to repentance. Christ uses that word numerous times. So, tending to your own heart is important to Him, never to be ignored. And like charity, repentance begins at home.
The final macro picture we all live within is that of God’s eternal limits on evil. And that macro picture will come into perfect focus on judgment day. For us as Christians we have nothing to fear from judgment day. For us it is the day of ultimate redemption. Jesus has died for our sins and paid the death penalty to God for us. He has given us the seed of His saving grace and implanted it within our hearts. That seed has brought forth fruits of righteousness throughout our lives. One of the chief fruits being: a repentant nature which doesn’t second-guess His goodness. For us judgment day is vindication of everything we’ve stood for and believed. It is freedom from evil and the Evil One. It is seeing Divine justice, perfect justice, handed out. Yes, we don’t fear judgment day because Christ’s holiness covers us with His grace.
Meanwhile, we need to do what we can in life to follow ALL of God’s will. His will is expressed in the 10 commandments. His will is about opposing evil and resisting it at every turn. It is about defending the fatherless, the widow, the children. It is about defending and protecting our neighbors. It is about helping families grow stronger together. It is about following the basic laws of morality that He has laid out for us in Scripture. Christ was never passive, but always active. Think of Him hurling out demons, stilling storms, even making a whip and driving out thieves from His temple—twice! Christ was not a wimpy Lord, but a muscular One! Isn’t it time His Church roused itself from lethargy to this same kind of action?
Like the disciples the task taking on the weeds of human evil may appear insurmountable. That’s why we begin with our own small plot of ground: our hearts. As to the rest of this world: we do what we can to help during our time of grace, knowing the task will never be completed by us. But it will be completed by God on judgment day! That’s our ultimate comfort! So, Never Give Up The Fight of Faith!—Or, Don’t Let the Weeds Win….. Amen