August 2, 2020: 9th Sunday of Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, prevent us from being over-run and choked out by weeds!  Enable us to grow freely into proud soldiers of Your cross.  And move us not to get over-stressed when weedy, seedy people erupt around us, but to trust in Your patient care and gardening excellence.  Amen


TEXT:  Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43

Dearly Beloved by Christ: 

          People say that weeds are just plants that grow in unwanted places.  I disagree!  Weeds are weeds.  Friday morning I saw some weeds growing around my tomato plants.  Mind you, to avoid weeds I used black landscape fabric over the entire garden and tacked it down just to prevent weeds.  Then I cut holes in it where I planted the tomato seedlings.  So far so good. But now in midsummer after some rain, the weeds blossomed up in those small holes and attempted to choke the tomatoes.  So, I spent a few minutes pulling them out. And before Fall I’ll be repeating the process.

          The worst weeds are either pigweed or crabgrass.  They seemingly grow inches over night.  I did a search and learned more about pigweed than I ever thought possible.  I have redroot pigweed, but I found out there are other varieties, too, and I have some them as well.  They grow quickly and sap nutrients from around the vegetables.  Plus, they’re ugly—probably that’s why people call them: pigweed!


          Weeds are an age-old problem.  Our lesson outlines it.  People of Christ’s time planted wheat by tossing it across the plot of land by hand.  The problem was: someone had mixed good wheat seed with tare seed, or plants that appear to be wheat until they are well-established and then they choke out or minimize the wheat harvest.  What to do?  If you attempt to rid the good plants of the bad ones, basically you end up destroying or uprooting both.  And each wheat plant is precious.  So in this parable, the owner of the ground tells his workers to harvest them all together—the weedy tares first and then the good wheat.  Tie them into separate bundles and burn the tares—thus destroying the bad seed, while threshing out the nutritious wheat. Yes it was labor intensive but at least you ended up with something rather than nothing.


          After leaving the crowd of listeners behind, Christ’s disciples asked Him what this parable means.  He tells them and us: 1. The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man, Christ.  He casts the seed of the “bread of life” the Gospel around on the earth.  “The good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.”  2. The bad seed, tares, stands for God’s enemies (children of Satan).    And at the harvest of souls on the last day, the servants of God (angels) will separate the two groups.  Then the tares will suffer the fires of eternal damnation while the good seed will fulfill its Godly purpose in glory. 

          What can we learn from all this?  First, our Savior is a hands-on Savior.  He laid His  hands on the world and planted the seed of faith in all of you when you were baptized, or born again of water and the Word.  Additionally, He has remained a hands-on Savior by applying the Seed of the Gospel, eternal life, which He purchased for you with His blood shed on the cross.  He has nurtured you, protected you, watered you with His love and forgiveness, and caused you to grow via His gifts of grace.  Your purpose in life is to bring forth a good crop of that love and He works hard at making it all happen.

          Ah, but Satan, the evil one, is lurking and plants tainted seeds among you.  How many childhood friends, or even confirmands who went to class with you, have been corrupted by the evil one?  How many of them have turned their backs on God’s care and seek to go their own way?  How often have you agonized over them, thus becoming sapped of some of your Godly strength and purpose?  I know I can think of various souls who fit this bill. 

          The visible church is also another plot of ground where this good seed/bad seed is revealed.  Since we are all still maturing in our faith, the “tare people” haven’t yet fully revealed themselves.  Hypocritical people are present in every visible group of people, including the visible church.  And then suddenly they reveal what they really are and try to choke out faith within us by their negativity.  Of course, the One Who knows everyone’s heart is God.  He sees this and in loving patience toward you, and to prevent harming you, lets it continue until the final harvesting.  It isn’t God’s will that any of His wheat plants should suffer.  But an occasional bruising of the good plant is better than total destruction isn’t it?  At least it still brings forth something rather than nothing. 


          Today we see this all being played out in literally every grouping of people.  That’s why God’s Word says later on: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  Or, “a little yeast leavens the whole lump” of dough.  Wheat seeds cannot move to another safer location when they realize they are surrounded by bad seeds.  But you and I have legs and we can.  This is exactly why it’s so vital to always be on guard against Satan and his evil advances.  This is exactly why we need to arm ourselves daily with the power of the Spirit which comes through regularly hearing God’s Word, through regularly communing, and by basking in the warmth of the Gospel.  And if you’re not sure about how to mark and then avoid “bad seeds” from corrupting you, well,  in order to help you in this task, remember:  “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find.”  Pray!  We are all “in the world” but we should never be “of the world.”  This parable is a great reminder of that truth.  Take it to heart.  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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