Weeds and Wheat – Ep.03 – Rev. Mary Etta Mest Podcast – Mary Etta Mest Podcast
So you planted a garden. Exciting! Someone tilled the soil for you. You carefully drew straight lines with a hoe and made valleys on the lines. You planted the seeds, carefully following the directions on the seed packet for distance between the seeds. You gently covered the seeds with the soil you had removed and it was a day. Now for the sprinkling can to water the seeds. A good day indeed!
There is something satisfying about planting seeds. There is so much promise mixed with waiting. Are the seeds really going to grow? Did you plant them too deep or too shallow? If you planted vegetables, your mind is already preparing your taste buds. If you planted flowers, your mind is picturing how beautiful they will look.
For the first few days you lug the sprinkling can full of water to your hidden seeds. Then one day it rains and you figure that is the end of watering your seeds. For a few days you are busy with your work and don’t get time to look at the garden until it is too dark. When you finally get to the garden in the daylight, you have a surprise. Yes, there are tiny green heads showing from your seeds, but something bigger is growing next to the seeds. You are dismayed. These are weeds! What to do about the weeds?
Well in my experience, the weeds need to be pulled from the garden or they will take over and consume all the moisture and all the sun. Actually, that is how all of my gardens looked. I never found time to take charge of those weeds. The seeds I envisioned as little pickles grew to be giant cucumbers hidden by the giant leaves. I always had plenty of huge cucumbers but never little pickles. Those weeds!
The farmers around our home plant whole fields with seeds. In the days when spraying weed killer was allowed, the farmers had special big equipment to spray the field so weeds would not grow. I still don’t know why the weed killer did not kill the corn or the wheat or the barley or the soybean plants. But, of course now farmers are more careful about spraying weed killer on fields because some of it might soak into the good plants. Also, it can find its way to streams and rivers and kill the plants and animals in the water.
Now, what to do about the weeds? Well, believe it or not, the answer comes from Jesus in the gospel lesson Matthew 13. He says, “Leave the weeds grow alongside the good plants.” In this parable that Jesus tells to make a point about how we should live, he identifies the good plants as wheat. In this parable, Jesus says that the weeds were planted stealthily by the enemy when everyone was sleeping.
The field workers asked the Master if they should pull the weeds immediately. The Master said, “No, not now. If you pull the weeds now it will disturb the good plants. Leave them grow until the good plants are ready to harvest. Then we will gather the weeds first and burn them. That way we can harvest the good plants – the grain.”
In the time of Jesus, all the work was done by hand. The stalks and the heads of grain were kept together and made into nice bundles. These bundles were called sheaves. They may have stood in the field like beautiful bushes until they were gathered and brought to the animals.
I was looking for pictures to go with this scripture to place on our worship program covers. I found a lovely picture of wheat with pretty red flowers scattered here and there. They were the weeds, but so pretty. So alluring! How can they be called weeds?
Then I found another wheat field picture with a combine in the background. Now-a-days, a combine is a big farm machine that cuts whatever is growing in a wheat field. Inside this machine are separators – separating the stalks from the grains of wheat. The grain comes out of a chute into a truck or wagon that is traveling alongside the combine. Great! The wheat stalks come out another chute and are spread on the ground to dry. Another machine comes along in a day or so and swoops up the stalks and squeezes them into a bale of some shape. It is then used for bedding for animals. God planned it this way. Engineers designed the equipment.
But what about the weeds. Are they mixed with the stalks that are spread to dry? Are they part of the bedding for animals? I think so, but I need to consult a farmer about those weeds. Could they be useful? Aha! Nothing is wasted. But Jesus is making a different point with this parable.
The weeds represent bad living and the wheat represents good living. The weeds were put there by the evil one – by Satan. The wheat was planted by God. Which one are we in the field of life? Of course, we want to think that we are the wheat. Certainly, we were planted by God. We want to be the ones who “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” The problem is that it is very easy to slip from being wheat to being weeds. The devil is an expert at luring wheat and making it weeds. Remember those pretty red flowers I found in a picture of a field of wheat? Wouldn’t I rather look like a pretty red flower than a pale yellow stalk of wheat with a bumpy head?
Just as the field is a mixture of good and evil, so is each of us a mixture of good and evil. But in the end, when Jesus comes again, do we want to be identified as wheat or as a weed? Do we want to be excluded from the Kingdom of God or do we want to have the right chip in our identification card? The Psalmist in Psalm 86 says, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere you name.” An undivided heart – wholly wheat. Wholly belonging to God. The Psalmist adds, “For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me form the pit of death.” Yes, the burning of the weeds. Not a good experience!
Yes, we have this great promise in the same Psalm, “But you, O Lord, are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and full of kindness and truth.” This is God moving us firmly into the wheat bin – the heavenly Kingdom of God. Paul the Apostle writes in Romans 8 that the whole earth is groaning between the evil one and the holy one, but even nature will be redeemed along with living creatures, because we have the promise of redemption, of adoption. All of the division of our souls will be resolved. The eventual, fully restored Kingdom of God will be one solid field of wheat with not a single, tiny weed – pure gold! Dear Holy One, thank you for this hope. Amen