Summary: Exploring the nature of evil as a spiritual reality which impacts all of us while affirming the sovereignty of God.
Title: The Curse of the Weeds
Before loading up the van with kids and luggage for vacation, I quickly looked through the lectionary reading for today. I noticed that the parable in Matthew was familiar—I had tackled it once before, a fresh perspective was in order. This fresh perspective hit me right between the eyes.
The day before leaving, bombs delivered by terrorist shook London to the core. Scenes of carnage, destroyed lives, confusion and chaos looked eerily familiar—a bad dream being played over and over again. Another case of the curse of the weeds taking the form of destructive terrorism.
If that was not enough perspective, I was reading the paper the other day, which has become a recipe for bad news. Yet another suicide bomber struck.
But this time, this madman drove his vehicle into a throng of children who were receiving candy and toys from American soldiers in Iraq.
In a flash, countless children lost—families wailing in grief and disbelief. The world stunned again by the horror of yet another evil act. This curse permeates throughout Iraq in its daily struggle to rid itself from these insurgent weeds.
This ongoing struggle captures the harsh reality of evil spoken of in today’s parable. The curse of the weeds so prevalent among us…
The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat
24He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well.
27And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Here you have a story of a farmer who worked diligently in the field—making sure only the finest wheat was planted. When he was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed seeds along side the wheat.
By the time it was discovered—the weeds and the wheat were growing side by side. At this point, the natural thing to do is root out the weeds. Yank them out and get rid of them.
The servant of the household made the suggestion, but the owner had a much different idea. Let them grow together until the harvest—for we do not want to jeopardize the good wheat by pulling out the weeds.
William Barclay points out “the pictures in this parable would be clear and familiar to a Palestinian audience. For farmers, they battle the dreaded bearded darnel, which the weed was called.
And it would not be out of the realm of their experience to be victimized by someone bent on destroying another man’s crop out of vengeance. There were laws in the land written to protect against such crimes.
One interesting fact about this parable is that the bearded darnel weed and wheat cannot be distinguished until the head of the grain is exposed. By the time one distinguished between the two, the roots are so intertwined that the weeds cannot be rooted out without removing the wheat.
Barclay informs us that the grain of the bearded darnel is slightly poisonous. It causes dizziness and sickness and is narcotic in its effects, and even a small amount has a bitter and unpleasant taste. What does this reveal about the nature of evil?
First, it seems to suggest that evil can be an external reality—a hostile power eager to contaminate the good wheat growing in good soil—an enemy ready to infiltrate and corrupt when one least expects it.
It’s the analogy of those London commuters hopping unto a train to go to work like any other day, only to encounter an explosive act of terror ripping apart any sense of security and normalcy.
It seems killer weeds can crop up anywhere—no place appears to be safe. Like the darnel weeds, these Killer weeds are difficult to recognize and almost impossible to stop. What can one do? That’s the perplexing question…
A colleague made this comment about the parable… “It’s a frustrating story, weeds and wheat together. But it’s also real. You raise your children, and you pray for them. Your take them to worship — you surround them with good friends, good influences.