Summary: The parable of the wheat and the tares is not all about hypocrisy; it is also a gospel reading of atonement, full of strength through humility.
This sermon was delivered to Holy Trinity in Ayr,
Ayrshire, Scotland on the 20th July 2014
(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
(This is a modification of a previous sermon for a larger congregation).
“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. (Ps. 19:14)
Good morning … that was a real fire and brimstone reading that, Eh! … Being “thrown into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. … Well, talking about gnashing of teeth … my wife, Christine always has an answer for me … always … you know, those answers that cut right through you. … The other week there, I said to her … “that’s it I am not going back to that church”, and she said “why”, “why because it is full of hypocrites” ... and as quick as a flash she said … “I wouldn’t worry about it, they have certainly made room for you”!
Now I jest, I thought that was funny, but what is not funny, is that I am doing the sermon … and this reading today is all about hypocrisy, … and as always, … I am the last one to speak on such matters, so please forgive me as I muddle my way through todays sermon as I can be the biggest hypo-crypt of all. …
So I will start with the subject of conflict in the church … well, conflict in general, as we do not need to look to hard these days to discover that we are living in a world full of conflict. There is conflict between nations … conflict between our political parties … conflict between towns and cities … between neighbours … between our families … and of course … conflict between our spouses; … so why should the church be any different?
I mean … conflict in the world can be understood … but conflict in the church is a completely different story … aren’t we all supposed to be worshiping the one and only son of God? … Yet there is conflict between all the religious sects … between church leaders, and even between the members of the congregation themselves. … But why should there be conflict between God’s children … the brothers and sisters of Christ?
Well, Jesus tells us why in this Parable … he shows us that there is conflict in this earthly kingdom, and we are not to be fooled. … He even gives us two reasons for this conflict: … the first is the most obvious … yet rarely acknowledged … and that is because there is an enemy called Satan, who is the direct enemy of God himself … and to get at God … he strikes at his children … and there is no better way to do this than by causing conflict in his church, … true?
And the second reason for conflict is because there are false Christians in the various congregations, those whom Satan has no problem in using. Jesus himself said so in, Matthew 7:21 “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but only he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven”. …
These kind of people are wolves in sheep’s clothing … they operate as Satan’s fifth column, his undercover agents in the church … and these, and the true Christian cannot … or will not be separated until the final harvest at the end of the age … so they will keep on causing trouble. … And worse, we will always have them, and we will always have conflict, so get used to it.
So how are we to deal with it? Well to start with, we all know that the cost of conflict is always very costly for both parties: ... war is such a waste … but this passage suggests three ways to deal with that conflict. …
1. Be Perceptive to the enemy.
The first way to deal with it is to be perceptive to the enemy. Verse 25 “but while everybody was asleep, an enemy, (that is Satan), came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away”. Notice he went away, he was sly; he did not stay to watch, or say, “I did that”. … He did the deed and left … and he left everyone in confusion as to how the conflict arose. … He sowed the weeds while everyone was asleep.
Now in both ancient and modern warfare, it is or was common practice to destroy the enemy’s crops: because this would weaken and demoralise the soldiers and their families; particularly the soldiers as according to Napoleon who said, “An army marches on their stomachs” … and we all know this only too well, remember Hitler’s U-Boats in the North Atlantic during the Second World War, U-boats trying to sink every allied ship … why, to try and starve Britain into submission. …