Feb. 26, 2017

The Harvest

There is a story recorded in Matthew's Gospel chapter thirteen verses 24 - 30 that speaks of a particular farmer that sowed wheat seeds in his field. As the story goes there was an enemy that came along during the night while the hired men were asleep and sowed thistles among the wheat. Once the wheat began to sprout so did the thistle. When it was discovered by the hired men that thistle was present among the wheat they immediately asked the farmer as to how this happened. The farmer knew that the wheat seed that was planted was pure. His explanation? Some enemy did this. The farmhands suggested that they weed out the thistle to which the farmer replied, "No, if you weed out the thistles you'll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I'll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn."

This story has intrigued me for quite some time. I have heard various sermons preached using this text. I recall one particular sermon where the preacher used the text to indicate that the wheat represented the believers in Jesus and the thistles represented those who did not believe in Jesus. The fate of those who numbered with the thistles were bundled up and thrown in the fire. I must admit that by the time the sermon was finished and the alter call was extended to the congregation there were all kinds of people coming forward to seek assurance that they numbered among the wheat. As I have given thought to what I witnessed that evening I offer this reflection.

This reflection centers around some of my personal insights that I continue to work on. This is a story told by Jesus. He seeks to bring understanding to those who are blind to what he is trying to get them to see. He doesn't automatically open their understanding and I think that is by design. I have become aware that when "night" or "darkness" is included in one of Jesus' stories I usually consider that there is a lack of awareness on the part of those being told the story, thus the darkness. Jesus is telling people what the kingdom of God is like not what it is.

What if the wheat in this story represented all of humanity and the thistles in the story represented "sin" that was sown within all of humanity? As I have pondered this question allow me to share some of my thoughts. In Romans chapter seven the Apostle Paul gives his readers his own understanding regarding sin. In verses sixteen and seventeen he basically indicates that it is obvious that his conscience sides with the law which confirms then that it was not really himself that did these sinful things but "sin" that manifested its symptoms in him.

In Galatians chapter one and verse sixteen Paul indicates the following, "This is the heart of the gospel that I proclaim; it began with an unveiling of his Son in me ..." If the Apostle Paul discovered both "sin" and the "Son" in him then I hold up for your consideration that this may be the representation of the Wheat and the thistles growing together within each and everyone of us. The Good News concerns what happens to us at the harvest. Can you just imagine? God sends the harvesters to bundle up the sin that has been growing within us and has held us hostage within our own bodies. It is then cast into the fire to no longer be a disruption. If that is what the kingdom of God is like then the anticipation of that day will certainly bring hope for all.