We need to understand the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds in light of these questions. Indeed, there are several parables in Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel that are not direct answers to these questions but are indirect ways that speak to how God rules over this world and seeks to rescue it.
For example, in the Parable of the Sower, we hear about the way a farmer scatters the seed on all kinds of ground. The farmer scatters the seed, but it does not always take root. Nevertheless, the farmer (i.e., God) plants the seed deep within those who will respond. The promise is that the seed will someday bear fruit, but that it will take time (13:18-23).
The Parable of the Mustard Seed is also part of this section. The mustard seed, of course, is one of the smallest of seeds in the world, but it also takes time to grow, becoming one of the biggest of shrubs, providing shelter for birds Again, such growth does not happen overnight, but when it happens it is full and beautiful (13;31-32). A similar thing happens when a woman bakes bread: it takes time for the leaven to rise (13:33-34).
And the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds? Well, if these other parables are about waiting, then this parable is also about waiting: it is about servants who want to act quickly, especially in the face of wrongdoing; but it is also about a farmer whose patience wins the day; i.e., it is about a farmer who is willing to let God have the final say, even when the temptation to rush to judgment is so present. For who wouldn’t want to go after the enemy who sowed weeds among good seed? Who wouldn’t want to settle the score right then and there (Matthew 13:25)? After all, isn’t it tempting to want to get out the Roundup or Weed-B-Gon and simply spray the weeds and get rid of the problem once and for all?
The problem is, as the farmer says, when we do so we can kill the good stuff too (Matthew 13:30). This is nothow God works. We can do more damage by pulling up the weeds too soon than by letting the weeds and wheat grow together until the harvest (Matthew 13:29). Yes, it will take more time, but the wait is worth it.
That’s what Jesus is teaching. How may we not rush to judgment and thus do more harm? How may we trust God in God’s judgement? How may we live with the confidence that God is working for our good?
Pastor Andy Kinsey