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Treat The Weed Like Wheat

The Rev. Joseph Winston July 17, 2011

Grace and peace are gifts for you from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 No one needs to tell you that the world is broken. You already know that. The family that we grew up with is an endangered species. Today, divorce tears apart one out of two marriages. It leaves behind dashed dreams, hurt hearts, and crushed children. Someone must deal with all the pain a dissolved marriage brings. That is not the only example of what is wrong in our lives. Large multinational corporations move in and they take more and more of the market. Often, the small Mom and Pop stores that used to line the streets surrounding the courthouse cannot compete with the mega-stores selection and convenience, not to mention the prices. No one is surprised when the small stores close their doors for the last time. One more shop that gave this town its character is gone forever and its charm will never return. The government of this ne state and nation is not any
Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3.

better. Innocent people spend years of their lives behind bars and the guilty get off without even a slap on the wrists. In todays Gospel lesson, Jesus tells you that you do not know how bad it really is. His enemy is actively working against Him.2 Maybe you have experienced this rst hand. In the home, arguments come up without any good reason. Has that ever happened to you? At work, you no longer can buy what your customers want. Do you know anyone who has told you this story? In the courtroom, you cannot nd justice no matter how hard you try. Have you ever seen a documentary on the problems with our court system? Every where you might turn, there are problems brought on by Christs enemy. Even in areas where you might hope there would be nothing but smooth sailing, like the Church, there are the sudden storms that seemingly spring out of nowhere. Face the facts. What Jesus tells you is true. During your entire journey on earth, the crafty foe brings trouble into your life. But this one enemy is no dummy. This one is tricky. This one makes detailed plans. This one knows how to hit were it hurts the most. That is exactly what happens today as it does in every other time in history. Listen once again, to what happens. In the carefully prepared eld that should produce at least a hundredfold return, Jesus scatters good seeds. What would you normally expect to hear next? After much hard work, the Son
The Greek has His enemy not just any enemy.Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, Sacra Pagina Series, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991), p. 203Arland J. Hultgren, Chap. Parables of Final Judgement In The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), p. 292.

of God harvests a bumper crop like has never been seen before. That fairytale ending where nothing goes wrong does not happen for Jesus. Instead, the land planted by Jesus produces a much lower yield than expected. Why? The enemy executed a simple but cunning plan. Make it difcult, if not completely impossible, for the farmer to separate the good wheat from the bad weeds.3 By doing this dastardly deed, Jesus is left with two poor choices. The rst is pulling up the weeds, which damages the wheat crop. The other equally bad option is continuing with the harvest in the fall. This course of action, which Jesus chooses, has its downsides too. Think about it. The farmer will now have to increase His efforts and receive less for His work. It now takes more water for the eld since some must go to the weeds and the other to the wheat. Fertilizer costs also increase. That makes sense. You are feeding both plants. Even the harvest requires more work than normal. All of the weeds must be removed before the grain can be turned into our because grinding the weeds with the wheat makes the nal product unt for consumption by man or beast. This plan devised by Jesus and executed by the laborers in the eld only works if you do your part. I realize in Lutheran ears this sounds like something you might know as works righteousness. That is you do something and this action wins you a favor of some sort from God.
The problematic weed () can only be separated out at harvest time and if the weed is not removed when milling the seeds, then it destroy the our. Walter Bauer et al., editors, A Greek English Lexicon Of The New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (The University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 339.Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus, p. 296.

Please, hear me out on this one point. I am not talking about your life or forgiveness or anything like that God might give you. I am instead referring to the health, well-being, and even change of your neighbor into a new person. Maybe some illustrations using todays Gospel lesson might make this clearer. Yank out a weed and the wheat plant next to it might never recover. Skip watering the weed and you could be denying the wheat life giving water. Withhold food from the weed and the wheat might suffer. Jesus brings these same points home a little bit later in Matthew with frightening clarity. He says if you cause an immature person to trip and fall away from Him and it would be better for you to never have existed at all (Matthew 18:6-7). Life in the Kingdom of heaven then shares at least one common point with everyday existence in any other empire, whether it be the United States, this great state of Texas, or even this fair city. There are things we do the for the benet of others. Here is one example drawn from this life you know to be true. There is no reason in the world why you must drive on the right hand side of the road. The left side would work as well as the right. The center is perfectly safe if all trafc is traveling in the same direction. We follow this tradition of driving on the right so others might travel in safety. Call it law if you must. Just remember though, it is not for your sake that you do these tasks, it is for someone else. A phrase that accurately captures Christs intent on this matter is, Treat the weed like wheat. Another way of saying the same thing is Jesus expects you to, Take care of one just like the other. That is what you must do. Nourish the both of them until eld is ready to be harvested. 4

If you take a hard look around this room then you will see that we do not really take Jesus at His Word and spend as much on the weed as the wheat. For if we did, this place would be overowing with people. Imagine with me what it might look like when we live here on earth as God does in heaven. Over there is a person that came in to see what kind of crazy folk that act this way look like. Behind her is a man wondering how we pay for all of this. After all, everyone knows how much we give away. Sitting in the aisle is a young family that does not t in anywhere. You have welcomed them into your life. In the back is an old man who has seen it all. He knows that this is too good to be true. After all, he has the scars to prove what has happened to him. But he is here anyways. He wants to believe that this all is real. The reason why it is so hard for us to do what Jesus commands is the world holds two beliefs that make no sense in the Kingdom of heaven. The rst idea dear to the world is this, There is not enough to go around. You experience this every day of your life so you might feel that this is the only way to live. After all, A penny saved is a penny earned. More to the point, if the farmer is to survive, weeds must be eliminated from the eld. Otherwise, the farmer will soon be nding another line of work. Carefully notice what Jesus does. He spends enormous resources on making sure both the weeds and the wheat thrive. In fact, this is the order He gives to the laborers in the eld. Let them both grow. This gives you an important insight into heaven. In the Kingdom of heaven, there is enough. You have what you need, so do I, as well do all the friends and 5

even enemies of God. That might sound like an offence against everything holy to say that Jesus treats His enemies just like His friends. Yet, it is right there in the parable. Every weed in the eld is fed and watered just like the wheat until the last day. This brings us to the second truth that the world believes with all its heart, Weeds can never become wheat. You might say in agreement, A leopard cannot change his spots and everyone here would understand that people do not change their basic nature. If that is true, then what happened to you? Why are you here? What makes you so different from everyone else? For the record, Jesus came to you, took you as you were, and made you one of His own. Maybe, just maybe, this is a case of a weed becoming wheat. It might be even more astonishing than that. In the Kingdom of heaven, nothing is impossible. Here is what the prophet Isaiah has to say about the topic in a text we read during Christmass, The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6 RSV). If that is not amazing enough for you, then try this one on for size. The dead will live. You know this to be true. That is why you are here today. Jesus gave you the power to come and you, like He, will live forever. Perhaps the reason why Jesus wants us to take such good care of the weeds is that one day He will turn them to wheat. About ve hundred years ago, a pastor that you might know named Martin Luther said this in a sermon on todays Gospel lesson. Who knows when the Word of God may 6

touch his heart?4 That transformation has already happend to you. It is not your doing. Jesus gave you this gifts so that you will live. Now you know the world for what it is. It is broken beyond belief. Jesus came so that no one would die (Matthew 18:13). The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.5

Bauer, Walter et al., editors, A GreekEnglish Lexicon Of The New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (The University of Chicago Press, 1979). Harrington, S.J., Daniel J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, Sacra Pagina Series, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991). Hultgren, Arland J., Chap. Parables of Final Judgement In The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), pp. 292330. Luther, Martin, The Sermons of Martin Luther, (Volume II, 1906), This sermon is on the text from Matthew 13:24-30 and come from Luthers Church Postil of 1525. The collection cited here was originally published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI) and was later translated into English in 1906
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Martin Luther, The Sermons of Martin Luther, (Volume II, 1906), p. 102. Philippians 4:7.

by Lutherans in All Lands Press (Minneapolis, MN) under the title of The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, Vol. 11. The pagination is from Bakers edition.