Summary: The Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13 is meant to demonstrate that the kingdom of God can flourish in spite of all the evil and opposition.
Thriving In A World of Evil
Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43
Pastor Jim Luthy
Our vision statement calls us to see the Living Christ in a thriving church of giving people. As we continue along this long walk with Jesus, how will our encounters with Christ translate into us becoming a thriving church?
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, to thrive means to grow vigorously, to gain in wealth or possessions, and to progress toward or realize a goal. A thriving church is one that is characterized by success or prosperity. Success for us would be the accomplishment of the mission to glorify God, empower the believers, and multiply the kingdom.
How many of you would like to be a person who thrives? How many would like to be a part of a thriving church?
Of course we would like to thrive, but it sure is easier said than done. Experience shows that all too often evil gets in the way of the good. The evil within us causes us to be lazy or distracted. For example, a thriving Christian is one who keeps his way pure, but pop-up ads on the internet or sexually explicit movies wage a war inside of us that threatens that purity.
We also experience opposition to our thriving from the world. We might be striving to thrive and suddenly we’re the victims of a crime or betrayed by someone we thought we could trust. Imagine the discouragement of a parent who works so hard to raise their child right when the world lures that young one into a lifestyle of drug abuse or addiction. Evil in the world gets in the way of our desire for good.
And then there is the devil himself. When we seem to be on top of our game, about to break through to some spiritual victory, the opposition comes. The devil comes in and sows seeds of doubt or discouragement or fear or worry right when it seems we were on the verge of breaking through.
Have you experienced some of this opposition? In all your efforts to be and do good, have you seen how evil gets in the way?
The solution seems so simple…just get rid of all the evil. If I were God, I would be so tempted to just take all the evil people and wipe them out! Criminals…gone! Adulterers…out of here! Are you greedy? Hasta la vista baby! If we could just get rid of all the bad people, the world would be a wonderful place!
Have you seen the bumper sticker that says “Mean People Suck.” Isn’t it true? Mean people do suck. But who are the mean people? The originators of that bumper sticker were those who looked at the religious right and their demands for morality and opposition to homosexuality and “a woman’s right to choose” and said, “those religious right people are mean. Mean people suck.” On the other hand, those in the religious right look upon their detractors and see the destructiveness of liberality and lawlessness and say, “those liberals are ruining our country and destroying our families. They’re the mean people. They’re the ones who suck.”
There’s a grave problem with getting rid of the mean people. First of all, the biggest problem is that so often I am one of them. The other problem is that too often we can’t tell who they are. Just when we think we’ve got it figured out, someone comes along and surprises us.
A woman and a man are involved in a car accident. It’s a bad one. Both of their cars are demolished but amazingly neither of them is hurt. After they crawl out of their cars, the woman says, "So, you’re a man... That’s interesting. I’m a woman. Wow, just look at our cars! There’s nothing left, but fortunately we are unhurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days." The man replied, "I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God!" The woman continued, "And look at this, here’s another miracle... My car is completely demolished, but this bottle of wine didn’t break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune." Then she hands the bottle to the man. The man nods his head in agreement, opens it, drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to he woman. The woman takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap back on, and hands it back to the man. The man said, "Aren’t you having any?" She replies, "Nah. I think I’ll just wait for the police..."
In our next encounter on our long walk with Jesus, we learn a little about thriving in a world full of evil. The Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13 is meant to demonstrate that the kingdom of God can flourish in spite of all the evil and opposition. In verses 24-30, Jesus tells the parable to the crowd. Once again it is like a riddle to the masses. Later on, as recorded in verses 36-43, Jesus goes into the house and explains the riddle of the weeds to his closest followers. I’m going to translate the riddle with the interpretations Jesus gave later.