Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
[Jesus] told another story. "God's kingdom is like a farmer
who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired
men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat
and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared
and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too.
"The farmhands came to the farmer and said, 'Master ' that
was clean seed you planted, wasn't it? Where did these thistles
"He answered, 'Some enemy did this.'
"The farmhands asked, 'Should we weed out the thistles?'
"He said, 'No, if you weed the thistles, you'll pull up
the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then
I'll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie
them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it
in the barn."
Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house. His
disciples came in and said, "Explain to us that story of
the thistles in the field."
So he explained. "The farmer who sows the pure seed is the
Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects
of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the
enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the
age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.
"The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene
from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed
out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and
be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven,
but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives
will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.
"Are you listening to this?
The missing section lets us know that Jesus uses stories to reveal
what can't be seen in news reporting or textbooks. The extravagance
of stories, with all their different internal levels of meaning
and interconnections with other stories helps us sense where
the meaning of life can be lived. Stories, however are notoriously
difficult to deal with because we settle for an early or easy
understanding or discount it as fantasy or myth (only dealing
with the small, unreal definitions of those grand and deep forms
of teaching about a grand and deep GOD beyond any literal or
rational or linear boundaries).
How disappointed are you that the good stuff you have to share
with the world keeps getting confused by mixed motives and messages
from yourself? This may be more difficult to deal with than simply
blaming a nasty old world from letting your message of life come
through with clarity. Paul talks about our best intentions going
astray and our worst ones being enacted. We have met the enemy
and - it's us.
Thank goodness we are not judged in the moment of our mixed-upness.
GOD will sort it out. Keep doing your best - it will be valued
Having identified an internal component to the thistles, it is
also important to note that there are principalities and powers
all around (do read your Walter Wink on this subject). Even with
our best endeavors to have pure and clean institutions - from
church to government - they keep sowing seeds of condemnation
and marginalization among us. Here it is important to keep living
one's best - including attempts at reform. Having done our best
and training others to do their best, we leave the rest to be
sorted out later.
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