23 July 2017

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

“He put before them another 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.’” (vv. 24-25)

Psalm: Psalm 139


The kingdom of heaven is like … God's kingdom is like … The man sows good seed in his ground, he does the right thing, but then weeds appear. You would think there would be no weeds in God's kingdom, but it is not so straightforward. Bad things happen and it is very hard to sort out the good from the bad.

Of course, we are sometimes tricked because things or people are not what they first seem. Some weeds are very easy to identify, while others have the knack of blending in. This parable refers to a particular weed, bearded darnel, not weeds in general. Darnel is slightly poisonous. It causes dizziness, sickness and is narcotic in its effects, even a small amount has an unpleasant and bitter taste. When it first grew, darnel so closely resembled wheat that it was impossible to distinguish between them. When both had headed out it was easy to do so, but by that time their roots were so intertwined that the darnel could not be weeded out without tearing the wheat out too. Both must be left to grow together until harvest then it had to be separated laboriously by hand, a job often done by the women. They picked out the darnel which was similar in shape and size to wheat, but slate grey in colour. All this would have been obvious to Jesus first followers, and it formed a very strong image of the difficulty in separating the bad from the good in this life, the "children of the evil one" (v. 38) are not instantly recognisable. But in the end, the Father will separate the good wheat from the poisonous.

Even when we try to sow the good, the bad still mysteriously happens. While God will have the final say, here and now things are sometimes mixed and confusing. We have to make the best of it and try not to allow the good to be strangled out by the bad. In the annoying situation the farmer's aim is to protect the good.

To Ponder

  • What is the darnel in your life? Are there habits, ways of talking or priorities that look good on the outside, but are really poisonous and damaging?
  • In what ways should we nurture the good, rather than rush to damaging judgement?

Bible notes author

June Feather

June Feather is a manager and Religious Studies teacher in a sixth form college. She preaches in the Cleveland and Danby Circuit, and feels privileged to live in such a lovely area with its country and coastal walks.