It seems to me that Jesus’ means of helping people grasp the nature of the kingdom he had come to build was best suited for the ordinary man of the street. He didn’t teach to appeal to the scribes, the Pharisees or Sadducees. He taught for the common, average, normal man and woman who dealt with life as a challenge each day. In appealing to the normal person in every age it is best to tie the point to a story they will remember and see the point from the story to tie to life on the street. The stories Jesus used were about normal life things in his day and the truth is what was normal then is still the norm in a huge percentage of people today. The stories were mostly about planting seeds, growing trees or searching for some kind of treasure. Each story began with a familiar phrase, “The kingdom of heaven is like.”
One of the most intriguing of those stories is found in Matthew 13:24-30. “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t we sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘ An enemy did this’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘ No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barns.”
Most likely just about every person who heard him the day he told that story identified with it. They may well have struggled with the application. But they knew what it was like to have worked hard preparing the soil and planting the seed, only to have weeds grow up among the new plants and often overtake the good plants to destroy all the work you had put into that field and cost you, not only the expense of the seed and work, but the future harvest you were depending on. I remember well this one area of the cotton field we planted every year, always had Cockle burrs grow up with the cotton plants. This was long before the day you could “Pre-immerge” and kills off such weeds. We tried cutting them out of the cotton while they were both young. But it often ended just as the owner warned in Jesus story. We would cut down or destroy the cotton plans along with the weeds. I had a solution for my dad then, (I doubt I ever told him) it was to just stop planting cotton in that part of the field and let the cockle burrs have it. Somehow I don’t think it would have been a solution Dad would have gone for anyway.
In thinking about it, if you could farm without dealing with the weeds every year it would almost seem you had lost part of what we knew as life on the farm. But, the question they surely asked themselves and for certain the disciples had on their mind was, “What in the world do weeds in my field have to do with the kingdom of God?” When the disciples got Jesus alone away from the crowd, that was their question. Jesus had told several other stories that began with “The kingdom of heaven is like” but they didn’t ask about the others. Evidently they felt they understood how the others fit, but not the weed story. In Matthew 13:37-43 Jesus gave the explanation of the story.
“The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all that do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Is it clear now? Let’s glance back through some of the points again. “The kingdom is like a man that sowed good seeds in his field.” That is a significant point. You see Jesus didn’t say the kingdom was like the field. He said the kingdom was like the man sowing the seed. Who was that man sowing the seed? That was “The Son of Man.” So the kingdom of heaven is like Jesus sowing his seed in the field which is the world. Notice another huge point. The seeds Jesus is sowing in the world aren’t the same seed he spoke of in the story about the sower and the seeds. That time the seed was the word of God. But here the seed are the people of the kingdom. The Lord’s seed that he plants all over the field of the world are his people, his followers, disciples, or Christians. Jesus is constantly working through disciples who are making other disciples, planting his children all over the world. That is the reason he challenged his disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Or as Matthew gives the commission, “As you go therefore make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” He gave more of the how in Acts 1:8 when he said to the same disciples, “You will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world.” That means, you are one of God’s seeds. It means that Jesus is planting you in his field somewhere in the world to be a person of the kingdom who touches the lives of others to bring them to Jesus.
Notice also, that in this field, the world, Jesus isn’t the only one planting seeds. The devil is also sowing seeds and his seeds are those weeds, the people of the evil one. So in the world, there will be both good seed, the people of Jesus and His kingdom and there will be weeds that are the children of the devil. How will they get along together? Will the weeds try to destroy the good seed? Yes they certainly will at times. At times they are successful. Think of countries that have worked hard to run the Christians out in the last 50 years. They have largely succeeded in killing the churches. Now the children of the Lord that are there must stay underground and still influence the people around them.
Understanding the fact that the field is the world and the Christ followers are the children of the kingdom and the weeds are Satan’s followers gives insight into the point of waiting until the second coming to harvest and remove the weeds from the field. Our job as disciples of Jesus isn’t to remove Satan’s kids from the world. It isn’t to start a war against those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus. Our job is to be God’s children in the field where he plants us. Often that part of the field may have more weeds than good seed. But we are to live for God where we are and serve as the influence as His child so we might help some in the field change their allegiance. But the declaration of who is the devil’s followers isn’t our job. We would make huge mistakes. In our efforts to clean out the world we will always end up taking away some of Jesus’ followers along with the weeds. Wait until harvest time and the angels of God won’t make any mistakes. That harvest time is the end of the age.
The overwhelming lesson is that if we are good seed we allow the Lord who plants the seed to put us where he wants us to be and grow where we are planted for Him. Live the life God calls you to live instead of setting yourself up as the seed tester to remove all weeds from the world. You aren’t qualified for seed testing. But the amazing promise is that at harvest time if we live as His seed in the world, we as the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father. What a wonderful promise!