Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where's the weed killer?

I am presenting a seven week sermon series about the Parables of Jesus.  Last week we looked at the parable of the sower and how he went out extravagantly throwing seeds everywhere in hopes of a harvest.  Seeds were thrown in places where the chances of their growing into plants were small but the sower threw the seeds all over in hopes that something would happen.  Jesus said that is what the Kingdom of God is like.  It is like that sower, foolishly throwing seeds everywhere hoping that something would grow.  Grace is scattered throughout the world to everyone and the persons who receive the word are like those kinds of soil that either accept the word and grow into fine plants or do not allow the word to grow because of the circumstances of life.

But what if you plant seeds to grow wheat and suddenly find weeds all over among your wheat plants?  What if someone maliciously planted weeds among your wheat just to be mean?  That is this week's parable from Matthew 13 that Jesus tells the crowd gathered to listen.  Someone planted weeds among the wheat and when that is discovered it has to be decided what will be done about it.  The servants suggest that they go out and pluck up the weeds but the master says that they will pull up good wheat at the same time so he tells them to leave it as it is until time for the harvest and then they will be able to tell the weeds from the wheat because wheat plants bow over with weight while the weeds stand straight up since they have little substance to them.  At least that was the situation in the Mediterranean world of Jesus' day.

So, Jesus concludes the parable and explains to his disciples privately what the parable means.  The one who does the planting is Jesus himself.  The field represents the world.  The good seed are the ones who are part of the Kingdom of God while the weeds are the evil persons in the world.  Jesus tells the disciples that if they will just be patient until the end of the age, God will sort out things and evil and good will be divided and the evil will be burned even as the weeds in the parable were.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun.

So, what does this parable teach us about life?  It has something to do with the frustration that many of us feel when we look at the world around us and see so much evil and wonder what can be done about it.  We work for peace and justice and we pray that everything will be set right and it seems that evil abounds even more even in the face of our prayers.  Those who do evil things continue to do them and even all the forces of good working together cannot completely eradicate them.  Jesus words tell us that it is God's work to bring about the end of evil and we have to be patient and trust that God is in control.

There is a movie that began playing in theaters a few weeks ago called, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."  It is the story of a group of retired persons from the UK who decide to move to India to live in what they think will be a retirement hotel and when they arrive they find a run down hotel nothing like the one in the brochures or on the ads.  They complain to the young man who is the manager and he tells them a platitude that is the theme of the movie, "All will be well in the end.  If it is not well, then the end has not yet come."

I think that is what Jesus is saying to us all.  All will be well in the end.  God will take care of us and the whole world but we have to trust God to be the one to make things right in God's own time.  God's time is called "kairos" while we think in human time or "chronos".  We see time much differently than does God.  The time we have living on this planet is so small in comparison to the time of human existence that God has witnessed and will see in the future.  God will make all things right if we trust God to bring it about.  It may not come to pass in our lifetimes but it will happen someday.

The psalmist says it this way: "Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.  Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.  Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  (Psalm 37: 1-3)

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