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9th Sunday after Pentecost

I’m sure it’s happened to you before.  It causes headaches.  It causes frustration.  It’s just plain annoying.  It happens at work files get filed wrong and need to be resorted.  It happens at home with little kids, 5 boxes of puzzles somehow get all mixed into one.  It happens in the workshop, one size bolts somehow get mixed in with a totally different size bolt.  It’s a mess when things get all mixed up, isn’t it?  It causes headaches and frustration and exasperation, doesn’t it?

Well, perhaps its one thing if it happens by accident, but when someone mixes something up intentionally it can be just cruel.  In the parable that Jesus told in our text for this morning that’s exactly what happened: an intentional, cruel mixing up.  You see there was a farmer who planted good wheat seed in his field.  He would have had every expectation for that seed to grow up well and produce a great crop of wheat for him.  But, in the dark cover of night when most people are sleeping his enemy came and scattered a weed seed all over the field.  And the seed that he spread was a seed for a weed plant that in its early stages looks very close to a wheat plant.  So close that in some places they still call this weed “false wheat.”  But when the plants are a little older it became clear to the farmer’s servants that there were not just weeds in one part of the field but all over it!  The servants went to the owner and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?  Where then did the weeds come from?”  The owner knew that a situation like this could only come about by the intentional cruelty of his enemy.  And doesn’t the servants’ suggestion sound like the most practical solution?  To go and comb through the entire field and uproot the weeds in order to destroy them and get rid of them once and for all?  But that’s not what the owner wanted.  No.  So concerned for the wheat, so much against harming the wheat is the owner that he will not risk having even one wheat plant uprooted when the weeds are removed.  By all means the master wants to avoid losing any of his wheat.  So in great patience the owner has the perfect plan: “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.

Jesus often spoke in these parables to explain to us spiritual truths that normally we probably couldn’t understand, except that He uses earthly things we know about.  We have to be careful to not over-interpret parables, but keep the main point of the parable in mind: here it’s that there exist weeds among the wheat, but a harvest is coming when all will be sorted out.  That’s the main point.  This parable is somewhat unique in that Jesus actually explains most of the details as well.   Jesus is the one who sows the good seed.  The good seed are believers.  The weeds are unbelievers.  The enemy is the devil.  The harvest is the end of the age and the harvesters are the angels.

Jesus tells us that He is the one who sows good seed.  It is Jesus who sows or makes sons of the kingdom, believers in Jesus as their Savior.  It is through Him and Him alone that people become believers and children of God.  The weeds are sons of the evil one, unbelievers, people who have rejected Jesus and His message.  The enemy is the devil who will do anything to thwart God’s intentions of wanting all to be saved.  And yes the devil works through the weeds in this life.  You know, it doesn’t take us long to look at the world around us and see all of the unbelief and opposition to Jesus and His message.  It doesn’t take us long to see mixed in and around us all of the weeds.  Perhaps we’ve even asked the question, “Didn’t God sow good seed?  What happened?”  Yes He did.  Where did all of these weeds come from?  From the devil who opposes God, who planted the seeds of unbelief, sin, and temptation in this world.  So what are Christians to do?  Are we to pull up the weeds?  Fight back?  Force people to become Christians?  God says no.  Be patient.  God is still in control.  A harvest is coming.  He doesn’t want to harm any of us by pulling up the weeds now.

But it’s hard isn’t it?  It’s hard to live and wait patiently for the Lord, isn’t it?  The devil has his weeds planted all around us.  And he will use these weeds against you.  He wants to harm your faith.  He wants to make you doubt God and His Word.  He wants to distract you and call your attention away from God and His promises.  And you know what weeds in your life he uses to do this.  He knows how to use the tv or internet in order to lead you into sin or to choke your faith.  The devil knows how to use peer pressure or gossip to tear people down.  He knows where you are weak and what temptations have worked on you in the past.  He’s been studying you your whole life and he won’t give up.  Yes, he has his weeds scattered all around you and me.

Living as a wheat among weeds is a daunting task isn’t it.  Choosing to do the right thing and not the sinful and wrong thing isn’t always so easy.  Friendships could be lost, people won’t think I’m cool, I’ll be missing out on something everyone else has!  But thank the Lord that He has made you and me His wheat.  Thank the Lord that He lived, died, and rose in order to make us God’s children!   Thank the Lord that He worked that miracle of faith in our hearts through His gospel message!  And thank the Lord that there is an end, a harvest that awaits us!

Jesus remains in control.  In the end Jesus will come as King of kings and Lord of lords and will ‘weed out’ everything that causes sin and everyone who does not believe in Him.  For us, the end of all things is something glorious that we anticipate and long for and will rejoice in.  But for those who don’t believe in Jesus as their Savior the harvest is not pretty.  Jesus describes the harvest for those who do not believe in Him in no uncertain terms, doesn’t he.  What does he say?  “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Jesus makes it clear that you don’t want to be on the wrong side at the harvest.  Yes Jesus paid the full price for all sins with His death on the cross, but if someone rejects that they reject the only way to salvation.

So yes, in this world it will remain that believers and unbelievers will be mixed together.  But why doesn’t God simply end the world right now?  It’s for the sake of His own.  There are still weeds that need to become wheat in this world.  And God’s given us work to do.  First of all to be different.  To be a beacon of light in a sin-darkened world.  To live as who we are, wheat, and not as weeds.  And to spread His Word, to spread Jesus’ message, because it’s through that message, through the means of grace that Jesus turns weeds into wheat, unbelievers into believers, children of the evil one into children of God.

So what do we do?  So what do we do when were faced with weeds all around us?  Weeds in the world that tempt us to become weeds?  So what do we do when the life of being a weed looks like so much more fun than the life as God’s wheat?  What do we do when we face temptations day after day to abandon our status as wheat and become weeds?  What should we do?  Fight back?  Be discouraged?  Give up?  Give in?  Despair?  Quite the opposite.  Jesus has told us that there are weeds in this life and when we see them and feel their pressure we have just another proof that Jesus’ words are true- He already told us in this parable.  And far from being discouraged or giving up we are encouraged to patiently keep fighting the good fight of faith:  To remain and live boldly as wheat among weeds.  Why?  Because the harvest is coming.  The harvest comes when Jesus will make all things right.  The harvest of the Lord comes when He will rise with healing in His wings.  The harvest comes when He will take His wheat into His storeroom safe forever.  The harvest comes when you, believer in Jesus, righteous in the blood of your Savior, will “shine like the sun forever in the kingdom of your Father.”  The harvest comes so now and always firmly know and believe that yes “there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  (2 Timothy 4:8).  Yes, the harvest comes!  The harvest comes when everything will be sorted out.  When you will be given a life free of all harm, danger, disaster, sin, temptation…a life free of problems, health trouble, stress… a life free of sin and everything that causes sin and all of the consequences of sin.  Yes, the harvest comes!  God’s kingdom is yours!  That is your confidence!  Amen.