It seems strange dealing with the Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) in the middle of the summer. The hymn, “Come Ye Thankful People Come,” puts this parable to music. It is rarely sung except at Thanksgiving. Then, the actions of the farmer make sense. By telling Jesus’ parable in the summer, we preserve its shock value. The farmer lets the weeds grow among his corn. He’s my kind of gardener. We aren’t meant to imitate the farmer of this story. We are meant to think about what it means to be wheat or corn. We are meant to think about what happens to the weeds in the end.
This parable is one of Jesus’ many end of time stories. Why do the the good die young and the bad continue to do bad things with impunity? Well, Jesus tells us, this is temporary. In the final judgment, the weeds will be gathered and roasted. Bad people are weeds. Good people are corn. Get the picture?
In all of Jesus’ end of time stories, it’s easy to tell the bad from the good. The bad are the goats who miss the opportunity to do good things to the unfortunate people who are thirsty, strangers, naked, or in prison (Matthew 25:31-46). Goats don’t look at all like sheep. The bad weeds are the foolish maidens who forget to pack extra oil and so are in the dark when the master comes (Matthew 25:1-13). There isn’t any grey. You either got oil and a light or you are out in the dark. The bad weeds are the Levite and the Priest who walk right by the beat up fellow that the Good Samaritan stops to help (Luke 10:25-37). I’m a lousy gardener, but I know the difference between weeds and corn.
This then, becomes a central teaching that we dare not avoid or down play. There will come a judgement day for every person. From our human point of view, everything looks complicated and muddy. We aren’t designed to segregate the spiritual plants from the weeds. That is clearly God’s job. The fact that He doesn’t find it hard to do this should give us comfort, as well as, fear.
Comfort, because we, the wheat and corn people, can sing ‘Blessed Assurance’ and know that we have been totally saved. God holds on to his people. In the daily struggle, we get some things right and some things wrong. Some moments we look like sinners, some moments like saints. But, our salvation is made of sturdier stuff. God has called us to be corn. We have been born again.
Fear, because spiritual things have real consequence. The weeds will one day be plucked and burned. One day, this world will be judged. God’s infinite patience is not cause to discount the certainty of the day of judgement.
Lord, give us courage to speak about the end of time the way Jesus did.