August 18th, 2019
Main idea: Jesus calls us to be patient and realistic while we await the hope of his return
I. The Adversity of the Kingdom (13:24-28a, 36-39a)
This parable also includes a “sower” (farmer) who plants good seed in his field. However, an “enemy” comes and plants weeds amongst the wheat in an attempt to sabotage the harvest. Jesus helpfully explains what each of these components represents:
The Farmer/Sower = Jesus (The Son of Man)
The field = the world
The good seed (wheat) = the sons of the Kingdom (Christians)
The weeds = the sons of the evil one
The enemy = the Devil
The parable indicates that the Kingdom Jesus is bringing will face adversity almost immediately from a real enemy. There is someone at work to actively try and thwart the plans of the farmer.
Ephesians 6:12: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Do we really believe that there is a real enemy out there? How would that change our day-to-day lives? How would it affect our friendships? How would it change our prayers?
"Prayer is a wartime walkie talkie for spiritual warfare, not a domestic intercom to increase the comforts of the saints.” ~ John Piper
Despite this adversity, it does not overcome the farmer or jeopardize his work. He calmly recognizes the reality of the enemy without panicking. This is because in the Kingdom of God, evil is turned upside-down and used for God’s purposes. The kingdom itself is inaugurated through the crucifixion of Christ.
All of this means that we should not be surprised by evil; this does not mean that we become hardened or numb to evil, but we should recognize that this world is not the way it is supposed to be.
II. The Waiting of the Kingdom (13:28b-30a)
The workers ask the reasonable question: “Do you want us to go and gather them (the weeds)?” The answer from the farmer would have been a surprise: he says that they should be left alone until the harvest.
Jesus is confronting a misunderstanding about the Kingdom of God. Many of the Jewish people in the 1st century were awaiting a Messiah who would come and overthrow the Romans and all enemies who stood opposed to God’s people. Jesus indicates that the Kingdom of God is not going to be that simple.
The question being asked by the workers is the same question that runs deep within all of us: Why does God allow evil to continue? Why doesn’t he just put an end to it all?
The parable hints at a few answers:
The Farmer does not want to harm the wheat (13:29). The weeds are “darnel” which look almost indistinguishable from the wheat at first.
The Farmer himself will separate the wheat from the weeds at the end (13:30). It is not our role to take the place of God in making eternal judgments of others.
Why does the Lord seemingly delay the harvest at the “end of the age”?
2 Peter 3:8-9: But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Jesus is calling his people to a patient waiting for the Kingdom to come in its fullness. But this is not an endless or eternal waiting; there is a day coming where all will be made clear
III. The Hope of the Kingdom (13:30b, 39b-43)
Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the weeds is overwhelmingly focused on what will happen at the end. He is reminding the citizens of the Kingdom that their hope is not in present circumstances but in the sure promise of what is to come.
The ultimate hope is that one day God will deal with “all causes of sin and all law-breakers.” All the effects of the curse of sin will be wiped away as Jesus makes all things new.
This hopeful day is also a sober day for those who have rejected the King and his gospel message, as their decision will be affirmed for eternity. Jesus speaks symbolically to describe a very real place, where there will be sorrow, suffering, and despair.
For God’s people, they will be gathered into the barn (the Father’s house), and they will “shine like the sun,” a picture of being gloriously distinct. What has been hidden will now be made gloriously clear for all to see.
“It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Jesus ends by saying “he who has ears, let him hear.” The only way to have a patient, enduring, realism in this kingdom is if we trust the Farmer. Do you listen to his words?Do you trust the Farmer?