Summary: A sermon for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, proper 11, series A

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10TH Sunday after Pentecost [Pr. 11] July 20, 2008 “Series A”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you sent your Son, Jesus the Christ into our world, that he might reveal your will for our lives, and redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to receive your Word, that we might discern its truth. And through your same Spirit, inspire us to live our lives according to your word, that we might witness to your grace. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

After reading our Gospel lesson for this morning, you might think that there is little to learn about this parable that we have dubbed “The Wheat and the Tares,” or “The Wheat and the Weeds.” After all, according to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus appears to give us an explanation of exactly what he meant by this story. But as I studied this lesson over the past week, I discovered that the parable’s meaning might not be as clear cut as it may appear.

As my New Testament professor, David M. Granskou states in his book, Preaching on the Parables, “This parable is like the parable of the sower, in that an allegorical explanation is given along with it. As is the case with the parable of the sower, so here. The explanation of the parable of the weeds and the wheat (in verses 36 to 43) misses the point of the parable which is in fact a call for patience: wait for the harvest before separating the good from the bad. Jeremias has shown in a most elaborate way that the language of the explanation is that of Matthew and not Jesus. The language reflects terms that were used in the setting of the early church, not in the life of Jesus. We see again the same old tendency of some in the early community to add interpretations to the parables which are in the style of allegorical elaborations, which miss the real dynamics of the parable itself.” End quote.

Considering Dr. Granskou’s commentary, I would like to explore the meaning of Jesus’ parable, apart from the allegorical interpretation given it by the early church. Perhaps, in so doing, we might come to more fully appreciate this teaching of Jesus, and its message for those of us who comprise the church of today.

Listen again to the parable. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well.”

According to several commentaries that I read, this indicates that the weed that was sown was a plant called darnel. It was well know as a poisonous plant, but it looked so much like wheat in its early stages of growth, that even Rabbis called it a “perverted wheat.” It could not be distinguished from the wheat until the plants “headed out.” But by that time, the roots of the wheat and darnel were so intertwined that one could not be pulled without also tearing up the other.

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