I have been listening to a sermon series at my church about parables. Jesus taught with parables, simple stories that illustrated a spiritual lesson. When the disciples asked why he used parables, Jesus said it was because “the knowledge of the secrets of heaven has been given to you but not to them.” Many people hear the message but do not understand it. Even the disciples were bewildered at the meaning of his parables.
This week’s sermon was about the parable of the weeds.
Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who sowed wheat seed in a field. While everyone was sleeping, his enemy sowed weeds in the field. When the wheat sprouted, the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants asked him if they should pull up the weeds. The owner said “no, because when you pull the weeds, you will also uproot the wheat. Let them grow together until the harvest.”
Jesus explained that the field is the world and he is the sower of the good seed. The good seed is believers, or the “sons of the kingdom.” The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the weeds are non believers. At the end of the world, Jesus will send angels to weed out of his kingdom all who do evil and everything that causes sin.
The preacher made several points about this parable.
- Believers may identify with the servant who wanted to destroy the weeds. We want to root out the evil and make things right in the world. But the servant is not even a key character in this parable.
- The weeds look remarkably like wheat. A false believer may resemble a true believer. Many people profess faith in Christ but do not know him.
- We often take it upon ourselves to judge who is a true believer and who isn’t but we also often misjudge people.
- We don’t see the big picture as God does. We only see a tiny piece of it. God’s plans are unknowable to us.
There are a few lessons for me in this bewildering parable. One, I should refrain from judging whether a person is a true believer or not even when it seems clear to me that a person does not know Jesus.
Two, I need to be patient and let God work his field. He is the landowner. I am not. God is working in the lives of people in ways that I cannot perceive.
Three, in his infinite wisdom, God knew it would be beneficial to both the weeds and the wheat to let them grow together. The field is the great testing ground. It is here in the weeds that we learn how to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And when believers “let our lights shine” among the weeds, we bring glory to God.