Summary: The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one. (Matthew 13:37-38)
Speaking of the devil ...
There was a young seminarian who was taking an oral examination for his ordination process. During the questioning, one of the examiners asked him if he believed in a personal devil. "No," he replied, "I do not believe in the devil." Hearing this, the examiners began to discuss the seminarian’s fitness for ordination. They were on the verge of disqualifying him when one of the older faculty members spoke up: "Don’t worry about this young man’s present disbelief in a personal devil. This whole thing will take care of itself. He won’t be working in a church for more than two weeks before he changes his mind."
Speaking of the devil...
In today’s Gospel Lesson, the devil plays a key role in Jesus’ "Parable of the Sower" in which a farmer goes out to sow good seed in his field ...
There was plenty of evil in Jesus’ time. If he had asked any of his disciples, they could have pointed out a dozen social problems that might have been eased by divine intervention: Poverty. Injustice. Prejudice. Prostitution. Oppression. Drunkenness. Drought. Disease. "Look at the world," they might have said to him. "It’s full of weeds. Surely, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be!" And, surely, they were right about that.
But their way of dealing with those problems was different from God’s way. They thought that by overcoming the Romans, re-establishing Israel as a political kingdom, and electing the right man to rule it, everything would be as it should be. They thought that they could fight their way, legislate their way, vote their way into the kind of Kingdom that would please God.
But that was not Jesus’ way of addressing the evil of his day. He tells a story to try to help his friends to see his way of dealing with the evil things of his day:
There are many ways to draw closer to the Spirit of Christ. One of the ways is to live in His parables -- stories such as the one in today’s Lesson.
We imagine ourselves looking out into the world through the eyes of Jesus as He tells a story: What does He see? What is He trying to communicate?
In the context of the "Parable of the Sower," Jesus has been moving from place to place, preaching and teaching about God, about the Good News that God is for us; the Good News that God wants us to live under His protection, under His Rule, under His Reign; the Good News that God is calling us into His eternal Kingdom of Love; the Good News that as we do this we come into wholeness of life. But looking out through His eyes as He proclaimed this Gospel, what did He see? ...
He saw discouraged and disheartened women and men everywhere. Everything seemed to be contrary to what He was proclaiming.
He saw that the economy was in shreds. He saw that the poor were being taxed mercilessly, He saw that there were famines, one after the other. He saw that there were people roaming around with no place to live. He saw that there was military oppression and political oppression. He saw that there was no genuine freedom of speech or freedom of religion. He saw that half the people in the Roman Empire were owned by other people.
Moreover, Jesus saw well-intentioned religious people (they were called Zealots) who were saying, "We’ll fix all these injustices, and we’ll do it our way." And they were arming themselves with daggers, preparing to start a violent conflict at a moment’s notice. (They were ready to cut out the weeds).
And that is why we see Jesus telling this little story about a farmer, who is the symbol for God, the creator of the universe. The farmer takes control over a bad situation, saying, in effect, "Not to worry. Let the wheat and the weeds grow together for a while. In good time -- God’s good time -- the harvest will come, the wheat will be gathered and the weeds will be burned."
Thus, in the story, the farmer -- the Creator of the Universe -- ultimately prevails. The point of the parable: God always prevails.
And here we are now, looking out at our 21st century world badly in need of fixing. We receive our daily dose of war and violence and hunger and homelessness on the nightly News and we try to feel like the swimming coach who was making a speech at the awards banquet. His team had gone through a disastrous, losing season. "We didn’t win a single meet this year," he said, "but we had a good time and nobody drowned."
When, by worldly standards, we feel like losers in the game of life, not to worry: In and through the Lord Jesus Christ, God has won the victory for us. He delivers us from evil.