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LSB Proper 11A Sermon – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

July 22, 2014

July 20, 2014 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA

“[Jesus] put another parable before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away….’”

Jesus continues with His series of parables. After speaking about His work in the world, the sowing of the seed which is the LORD’s Word, Jesus moves to a discussion about the kingdom of heaven. He tells stories that describe His people in this world and what this group of people will experience. These stories include the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds. This parable is about the kingdom of heaven on earth. Jesus is disclosing to His followers what they will experience as people who belong to Him during the present age.

Using an agricultural motif, Jesus speaks once again about a farmer who sows a field. But this time, the sowing of good seed is not a description of preaching the LORD’s Word. Instead, Jesus is speaking about how He has planted individuals in the world who belong to Him: “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom.” Jesus states that He has people in the kingdom of heaven living in this world. That is His desire. It is the reason why He has come to the earth and was performing His actions as the Messiah, the Incarnate God.

Jesus’ statement about the sons of the kingdom is a description about you. He has placed you in this world. That is what has happened as the kingdom of heaven has come to you. It is the result of divine work being done for you, as Luther mentions in the Small Catechism: “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.” Going back to the Parable of the Sower: you are the ones who have heard the Word and understood it. The Holy Spirit has performed that work in you. So you rightly confess the identity of Jesus and what He has done to redeem you. Not only that, the Holy Spirit has given you a new mind and heart to live as the LORD desires.

But Jesus mentions another fact about the world: there are other plants in the field. These are not what the owner of the field wanted. They are not the result of his sowing. In the story, this is made clear: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” And when the weeds become visible, the owner of the field answers the question that his workers have: “An enemy has done this.”

The weeds are a noxious plant. They do not belong in the field. They are not what the farmer wanted to have present. Jesus explains what the weeds represent: “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.” They inhabit the same world where the kingdom of heaven is present. They threaten to overrun the wheat that the farmer actually planted. 

This story reveals the status of the Church in this world. Those who belong to the Church have been established by Jesus Himself. They are the result of divine work being done for them. But they must live in a time and place where the effects of the evil one’s work is also present. And that means living in a world, a location, or a society where there are more weeds than wheat. You are meant to be in this world; the LORD has planted you here. That is His desire. Just because there are weeds around doesn’t change that fact.

Jesus’ parable reveals another important truth about Himself. When looking at the field full of weeds, someone might think that the farmer was totally unaware of what was going on. Remember how the workers first reacted. They asked a question to the farmer: “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?” That question may have been rooted in the thought that the farmer somehow may have purchased bad seed to sow. But his response shows that he knows what happened: “An enemy has done this.” 

That response of the farmer leads to another question. The workers want to know if they should pull the weeds from the field: “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” The farmer’s response is negative: “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.” When hearing that, the thoughts cross the mind: Does the farmer not care about his crop? Does he not want to clear his field, so that the wheat he had planted could grow and thrive? Is he with it?

But Jesus’ story shows that the farmer is well aware of everything. He knows how the weeds got into his field. He also knows that he will deal with the problem. He has a solution to it. That solution will be carried out: “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” The farmer’s crop will grow as he desired. And his enemy’s weed planting will be destroyed. The future has been foretold, and the farmer is complete control of it.

That part of the parable reveals the awareness that Jesus has for the Church and its future. You have been planted in this world. You do live where the evil one has also been busy planting. You see the results of the evil one’s work. The sons of the evil one are very busy in this world. Their actions are all around. Hatred of what the LORD declares is right is publicly applauded. You can see all the strife in the world, including the shooting down of passenger airplanes or the launching of rockets into populated areas. There is a sick handiwork being displayed in the craftiness and cunningness of these plans to commit sins and transgressions. You and the other sons of the kingdom seem to be victims without any type of retribution or response.

But your Master is aware of all this. He knows what is taking place. He hasn’t been caught off guard. He isn’t ignoring the problem. Instead, He has established the solution to it: “The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” That is the promised end. It has been guaranteed to you. It is as much part of the LORD’s will for you as it was for you to be established as a member of His kingdom. His enemy’s attempts to ruin what He began will not be successful.

Such guarantee and promise is behind the other readings for this day that complement Jesus’ parable. The LORD makes it clear that there are no legitimate challengers to His supremacy, even if they do try to ruin His field: “I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no god. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before Me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.” When He sends for the reapers, the evil one’s weeds will be cut down; all challenges to Him will be destroyed.

This is what Jesus reveals in His parable. The fate has been set. And He has done this so that you can live in a trusting relationship, depending upon Him. The foretold end is another way that the LORD has spoken to His people: “Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?” That exhortation is made to you because the LORD has spoken about what your future is. He has declared what will transpire, so that you need not fear it.

Of course, that sometimes sounds really easy, almost silly. But it is done even in the midst of what you endure. Remember how Paul wrote to the Church as it was suffering: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” That faith is rooted in what the LORD has done and what He has promised. It anticipates the day when the reaping will take place as Jesus declared would happen. 

But Paul’s statement included something else. He noted that there was a work that will go on during the time that Christians are on earth, a work that will aid them in their endurance: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” That divine action takes place for Jesus’ people. Think in terms of the parable. Yes, the farmer allows the wheat and weeds to grow until harvest day. But it’s not that the farmer goes away and leaves the wheat to fend for itself against the weeds. He provides what is needed so that the wheat can grow as He desires. He grants what is necessary for His planting to be a bumper crop at harvest time. 

From these divine words, you can hear the great truth about the identity that Jesus has bestowed to you. You are His planting. You have been made righteous by Him. You are in the world because He wills you to be here. You are destined to be gathered to be with Him in eternity. You will have to live in this world where the evil one is present and active. But your Master knows this. His will for you will be fulfilled; the enemy’s plans will not be successful. He is aware of your status and what assails you. He has provided a helper to intercede for you, so that you will grow and live as His people. You will endure this lifetime and live eternally. 

That is what Jesus has determined for you by His death and resurrection for your sake. And so He speaks about you in the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds: “The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom…. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age…. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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