The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.

Matthew 13:24 “He presented another parable to them, saying, The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  25  But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away.  26 But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’  28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ And the slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’  29  But he said, ‘No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them.  30  Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” . .  36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house And His disciples came to Him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ 37And He said, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;  39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.  40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father He who has ears, let him hear.’ (NASB)


          This morning’s parable is one of those parables that states exactly what it is likened unto, namely the “Kingdom of Heaven” is like. . . .  “The Kingdom of Heaven” in this particular parable refers to the church on earth, the church that struggles to live, and move, and confess, and serve amidst the thorns and weeds of this world that seek to choke out the good fruit and take it all for itself.

          There are four reasons we know that the parable is about the church in the here and now on earth. First, in heaven there are no “tares.” The church on earth is called the Church Militant because she must fight against sin and its consequences.  Heaven is the Church Triumphant, the Church Victorious where there is no sin and none of its consequences.

          Second, in the explanation of the parable given to His disciples, Jesus tells us that the field is the world, the tares are the children of this world and the evil one, and the good seed that grows to be wheat are the children of the kingdom, the church. Third, this parable points us forward to the Last Day, the end of the age, which is known as the “harvest.” Finally, Jesus speaks in the present tense. “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to,” right here and right now, present tense.

          That means, even though it may not appear to be so at times, God is at work tending the field and tending to His seed.

          In both the parable of the Sower and the parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus is invoking well known Old Testament imaginary. For example, Isaiah 61:3 calls true Christians “the planting of the Lord.”  He is the Sower in both last week’s parable and the one before us this morning. Jesus Himself said in the explanation that the “one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” 

          As people of the good seed, you grow up in the church and in the world bearing good fruit.  If you allow true Christian faith to govern your heart and mind, albeit in a weak and frail manner, you produce good fruit on a daily basis. One day, on your last day on this earth you will be gathered up as part of the eternal harvest.

          The Seed of God’s Word is planted every day. The seed of the devil is planted every day too. The faithful die every day and are harvested. They are stored in heaven where they await the resurrection of the dead.  The seed of the weeds is also planted everyday.  They too grow, die, are gathered up, and cast into the “furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

          In the meantime, we live among the tares.  When God cursed Adam and Eve and said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; . . . 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you,” He was not only cursing the ground, He was placing a curse on every aspect of human existence, including creation itself. Thus St. Paul in the Epistle lesson, Romans 8:20 “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. In this world, there will always be thorns and thistles in every relationship and in every circumstance.

          The world and the church in this world consist of the good and the bad. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the two. As you can see by the cover of the reading insert, wheat and tares look a lot alike, especially to the untrained eye. But those who work the field and are rightly trained, they can see the difference.

          That was the case in the parable. “And the slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them.’”

          There is an axiom in criminal law. It is called Blackstone’s formulation (also known as Blackstone’s ratio). “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”  Our system of jurisprudence is based on such a principle, thanks to Benjamin Franklin and his counterparts.

          In this parable Jesus is teaching the pastors of His church that it is better to delay justice for the children of darkness, than to injure the faith of one of His children of Light.

          What Jesus describes in the parable is the reality we and the Church Catholic experience as we and she work our way through history. Yet, this is God’s world and Christ’s church

          Jesus tells us that the Son of Man, Jesus Himself is the one who sows His Word in the world. That goes with last weeks parable where the Sower throws His seed everywhere, on all kinds of ground, recklessly.

          In this parable Jesus owns the field and says to His disciples, “while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away.”  Jesus is not saying that somehow the His servants were caught off guard and it is their fault that tares are now growing.  He simply acknowledges that this is how the world works and how the interface between the world and the church looks. The phrase simply means that in the normal course things and over time the devil, the enemy does what the enemy does.  He sneaks in and sabotages the harvest.

          Jesus was always very clear about what it meant to be the church in a fallen and hostile world. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence.” (Matthew 11:12). The enemy is not content to allow the field to grow unmolested.  So he comes under cover of darkness and does planting of his own.  “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.” (Matthew 13:38-39).

          God’s Word is powerful, but the devil, the world, and the sinful self is hard at working trying to undo what God has done and is doing in Christ. God’s Seed grows.  But the devil’s seeds grows too.  Wherever the Word of God is preached in truth and purity, the other will also do its planting.

          Western civilization was once greatly influenced by the teachings and moral compass of the Christianity and the Church. Today, we see that the tares have taken over that field and have sunk roots deep into the visible church.

          That message is one of the many messages parents and adults in the church have not taken seriously in the last 75 years.  They still don’t take this message seriously. They raise their children for play and leisure not self defense and spiritual warfare. We raise our children as if there were no enemy or that the enemy is not interested in recruiting our children.  All too many Christians today raise their children as if the hedonists, the environmentalist, the feminists, materialists, relativists, anarchists, post-modernists, communists, and multi-culturalists have no interested in recruiting their children.

          This parable is a parable of judgment that needs to be taken seriously.  The wicked and the false teacher believe that they are right, virtuous, and the future. But God promises all, that He will sort it all out on the Last Day.

          In that sense this parable is also a parable about patience – the patience of God.  God is patient with the Christian and the unbeliever. For the sake of the Christian, He delays His justice.  Thus we are to be patient and content with the struggles and conflicts in this life knowing that something far greater lays ahead.

          That’s what the Epistle lesson is teaching this morning. Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”  As one of my seminary professors use to say, always keep an eternal perspective.

          Our concern is always to be about the Seed and our fellow Christians. We are to be concerned that the Word is proclaimed and taught in all it clarity and purely.  The resulting field and harvest is in the hands of the Lord.

          The parable is not intended to make us complacent or careless about what is right and what is wrong. We are not to tolerate false teachers and false doctrine. The parable is intended to comfort us when we encounter those situations and those people who just strike us as not being one of God’s saints.

          God is at work.  Let Him work.  God’s life-giving Word is being sown.  God is feeding and nourishing that seed with His blessed spring of eternal living water.  God is growing up and raising a faithful, blessed, bountiful harvest, even in the midst of weeds. Luther reminds us in his great reformation hymn, “Christ holds the field forever.”



May the Peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.


The Field And The Church

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