Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 13:27 (Holman) The landowner’s slaves came to him and said,
“Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then
where did the weeds come from?”
Even if Gospel seed falls and sprouts on good soil, there are still troubles aplenty. Germinating wheat is not a panacea solving all the world’s problems.
In this lifetime, not all will be well. God’s sown wheat, even while growing, wrestles against weeds. We live on Earth, not in Heaven. Heaven has only good; Hell contains only evil; the two overlap only on Earth. Watch out!
We humans are stuck in the war zone. We struggle with the paradox. Christ’s kingdom has come to our planet, but did not bring perfection as a result.
J. Vernon McGee said, “The world is getting better, the world is getting worse.” He explained this paradox, saying wheat is growing, and weeds are, too.
Wheat fields are ripening all over the earth. Christianity has never been as far-flung, the Bible never more accessible. Fields worldwide are ready for harvest.
Weeds are proliferating. Evil has never been worse. For example, slavery is more rampant than ever before. Today at least 25 million are slaves–children, soldiers, prostitutes, laborers, illegal immigrants without legal recourse, etc.–more than all that were sold in the shameful 400 years of the North Atlantic slave trade.
Wheat and weeds are both growing. This is no surprise. We believers sense them both warring deep in our own essence. We feel in us hostility, good vs. evil.
We experience the hostile paradox in our families. The first family included righteous Abel and murderous Cain. Abraham’s home had reverential Isaac and wild Ishmael. Isaac’s family had spiritual Jacob and profane Esau. Watch out!
Christianity grows wheat and weeds side by side. Some churches do better than others, but if you ever do find a perfect church, don’t join it, you’ll mess it up.
Unfortunately, “Satan often can be found in the church house!” (John Edie). This is one reason for accusations leveled against us about hypocrisy. Our wheat admittedly has dirty laundry aplenty, but we also struggle with weeds among us.
Watch out! In this lifetime, we will not fix every difficulty in ourselves, our families, or our churches. We need to try, but don’t be exasperated when we fail.
A 100% pure person, family, or church does not exist. Why? This gnawing perplexity, verbalized by the landowner’s slaves, received a prompt, direct answer.
Matt. 13:28a “An enemy did this!” he told them.
God is at work in this world, but watch out! Another living world force is also actively at work. Every field Jesus sows in, Satan plants therein too.
In this world, wherever God’s kingdom wheat is found, watch out for sabotage. Bad weeds are always being sown among good wheat. Christ’s efforts, and ours, are always opposed. Watch out!
Evil’s origin is a deep mystery. “Explain sin and you explain everything. The question of the servants is the despair of all thinkers of all ages” (Maclaren).
We want to believe a loving heart beats at the heart of our Universe, but pain screams from every nook and cranny. Obviously, something is bad wrong.
Why do good and evil, joy and pain, blessing and affliction, grow in our hearts, families, and churches? Why are weeds ever near, trying to choke wheat?
The answer is abrupt–an enemy. Watch out! Satan is a fact, not an illusion. There is a Good Guy, Jesus, and a bad guy, Satan. One is right, the other is wrong.
God has an enemy; this is all we need to know. To say less leaves us unable to explain this life. To pry for more indulges speculation God won’t countenance.
In this parable, Jesus warns us our best efforts will always be opposed by a sinister living force who wants to stay hidden. The devil, wanting us to think he has nothing to do with sin and suffering, sows at night and slinks away stealthily.
The evil one tries to hide his treachery. He doesn’t want to be known for what he truly is, but Jesus “dragged the great foe from his hiding place into clear daylight” (Morgan). He’s exposed, but we are not insulated from him. Watch out!
This brings us face to face with one of the most perplexing issues in all of Scripture. Who’s in control? Would Earth’s real master please identify himself?
The Bible clearly calls Satan “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4b). I have a Pastor friend who, based on this verse, through the years forbade his congregation to sing the song, “This Is My Father’s World.” He considered its lyrics heresy.
The Bible clearly states, “The whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 John 5:19b), yet also clearly says, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1).
Who’s in charge? While Jesus and Satan both step forward to claim the championship, learn a lesson from the landowner’s slaves. They saw much wheat and lots of weeds, yet knew who the rightful owner of Earth was–Jesus.
This world rightly belongs to Jesus, but Satan’s rebellion has complicated the issue. We find ourselves in the midst of a cosmic dispute over ownership.
Illustrations might help. The Dalai Lama claims to be the ruler of Tibet, but China ousted him and governs by force. Who is the rightful ruler of Tibet? After World War II, Stalin stayed in Eastern Europe. Each country had its own rightful leader, but Stalin ruled by force. Often, the rightful ruler is not the actual ruler.
Satan’s handiwork is everywhere. He is without doubt the ruler of this age, but is he its rightful ruler? No, of course not. He runs rampant on Earth, but has no right to it. He is a usurper, an immoral marauder. Nevertheless, the harsh, painful reality is, he has taken over and set up shop. Watch out!
What’s the result? “The whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now” (RM 8:22b). Our whole cosmos is in turmoil. Wheat and weeds are battling. Our job is to confront the evil proprietor and say of every person, “Hands off! This one belongs to Jesus and we want to reclaim him.”
The best antidote to evil and suffering is to sow a new stalk of kingdom wheat to counteract the weeds infesting that particular spot of the world. Each blade of wheat is another sprout who can relieve suffering, help the wounded, find the lost, dry a tear, and offer Jesus His deserved praise.
Christ does not view human suffering with cold detachment. He is not aloof or uncaring, but is at work in this world, actively sowing through His people. He is doing what He can to make a difference, to reduce the level of sin and suffering.
Jesus deems the whole world His. He loves every stalk of wheat and each weed in it. My favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, says, “God so loved the world. . .”
Christ-followers are scattered all over the world, which is simultaneously a huge wheat field and large weed patch. It is no coincidence Christianity stretches farther and reaches into more cultures than any other religion. God wants to bless everyone everywhere through us. No nation is God’s favorite. Each country determines its own level of blessing by how they respond to God’s precepts.
Christ-followers, be wheat wherever you are. We are meant to be a blessing. Be kind. Also be wise. Weeds are in us and around us. Watch out!