Your Garden

Ever walked out at the beginning of Spring and looked at the bushes or garden you have in your yard? There you noticed the tender young sprouts and wondered to yourself, is that what that plant looks like? Discerning the Weeds in our lives sometimes is not as easy as we may let on. (Matthew 13:24-26, 37-39a) This is true for our spiritual lives as well. So Jesus Christ begins His first parable in our pericope in Matthew 13:24, 37~The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  He answered The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. (ESV) The Son of Man is Christ Jesus’s favorite term of self-reference. You might think of it as a better way of third-person reference. It’s kind of like me saying, “Pastor D says,” Christ Jesus uses this phrase “Son of Man” more than seventy times in the Gospels. Perhaps the most important time is found in Luke 19:10~For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (NIV) Only Christ Jesus can do that.

In this first parable, there are two sowers. After the good seed is sown by Jesus Christ, and the owner’s workers are asleep, his enemy comes and sows Matthew 13:25, 39~But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away…and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. (ESV) So here’s the picture that was given to us by Christ. Jesus sends our people to sow seed into our lives and the enemy, our adversary the devil, comes behind him to sow confusion into our lives.

Thus, the field has two sowers and two different kinds of seeds. Listen as Jesus explains this for us in Matthew 13:38~The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, (ESV) The good seed are Christians who are planted right where the Lord wants us. We are not to be off in some monastery or an exclusive gated community of only Christian believers. That would take away our ability to be the enchasing flavor of salt and the wonderful light of Jesus Christ out in a world of darkness. (Matthew 5:13-16)

No, the world needs to see what the goodness of Christ is. Remember a parable is a compare and contrast illustration providing us a moral. Jesus said there are two seeds, there are two sowers and two different crops. So, don’t be a weed. Matthew 13:38~The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the Kingdom. The weeds (ζιζάνιον zizanion) are the people of the evil one, (ESV) (ζιζάνιον zizanion) rendered as weeds, or tares, is a kind of darnel, resembling wheat except its grains are black. 

Now that is interesting. The fake wheat has a black heart at its core. Sounds like all sinners. Because it is not until our hearts are made right by the precious blood of Jesus that our hearts become pure. Listen to the prophet Joel 2:13~Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (ESV) God says give me your heart, and I will change your life. Do I have any witnesses who can testify to that? Since a darnel closely resembles wheat in the early stages of growth, darnel is difficult to distinguish from wheat until fully grown. 

As a student pastor, I once spoke about darnel. After service a mother came up and said, I want to thank you, pastor, for making it so clear to me. I said, thank you, which part became clear? She said that no good Darnel poisoning my daughter! I had to remind her that our Darnel was still growing up and perhaps she might not know what was in Darnel’s heart, just by hearing his name. As a dad I get it, part of parenting is weeding in our kid’s lives. However, don’t let weeds discourage you. Sometimes God wants them in our life so we can influence the sons of the Evil One to become good seed or believers. 

Why not spend some time surveying the garden around you. Take notice of some of the things that need to be weeded out and to whom the Lord may have placed in your life, that you might win to Christ. Pray and ask God for favor and opportunities to share His message of peace and joy.



Citizens

In each generation, there seems to be a misunderstanding about God’s Kingdom. Jesus shared His heart in His prayer of Matthew 6:10~Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (ESV) The Kingdom of God is to be here as it is there. Jews misunderstood God’s Kingdom, as some do today. They thought Messiah would defeat the Romans and restore the recently lost freedom won under God’s anointed, Judas (aka the Hammer) Maccabee. Surely Messiah would pick up here and set up an earthly Kingdom to rule and reign. After all freedom from oppression, living life in a hemorrhaged state, bleeding potential is what is most important. The freedom of Jesus Christ is from the oppression of sin, they just couldn’t see it. The hemorrhage was living without His power.

This week we look at one thing, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of heaven, and we do this by listening to Jesus use different parables to help bolster our understanding of God’s Kingdom that has drawn near to us. Jesus as the King of this Kingdom is the best, most perfect representation of the Kingdom and He is speaking to us many things in parables. Matthew 13:34~Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. (ESV) He did this to fulfill the words of Isaiah the prophet, Matthew 13:35~“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” (ESV) 

If we desire to be a part of God’s Kingdom, then we must Be A World Changer: who discerns weed, considers the harvest, anticipates the Kingdom, knowing the importance. Today, I hope that you will take some time to study this week’s passage for Matthew 13 as you prepare for our journey together, through some of the many parables of Christ.



Goodness

Finally, you say, Christ Jesus arrives at ME, or you depending on your vantage. Here at the fourth type of soil, we find a heart ripe for growth. Matthew 13:8~Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (ESV) Wow-what a return on our investment as Christ Jesus explains the good soil represents the one who hears the word, understands its application, and so the seed takes root. Matthew 13:23~As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. (ESV) A cultivated heart allows God’s Word to make deep roots. Cultivating a seed begins by readying the field for planting. 

Famers plant in a process. They begin before the season by removing all the rocks or stones, they weed and divest themselves of thorns. As they take time to turn the soil and break up areas that might inhibit the best growing season ahead. This kind of heart bears spiritual fruit in our lives. Listen to the process shared by Jesus in John 12:24~Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (ESV) Later, Paul lays out the clustering of ripe fruit in Galatians 5:22-23~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. (ESV)

Love is listed first because it is the most important. It verifies our discipleship (John 13:35) and acts as a fertilizer, it gives nutrients to all the growing fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is a wonderful word picture of the Lord Jesus. Who is the full embodiment of these nine growing qualities in our lives? Fruitfulness is the test of true discipleship. Matthew 7:20~Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (ESV) Jesus goes on to say this kind of soil produces a harvest. When we think about our everyday walking around lives, do we consider a spiritual harvest? Ask any gardener, and they will tell you beautiful plants don’t just happen? No, they take work. Knowing where to cut is as important as when to cut. Matthew 13:8~Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  (ESV) If we want a harvest that is ever increasing, even 100 times our investment, then we are going to have to become shrewd gardeners. This parable reveals why there are so many opinions about Jesus. Opinions ranging from a liar to a lunatic, to The Lord. However the Bible is clear, Jesus is a Prophet, Priest, and King. 

Today, you have heard the Word of God and the real question facing you is, How will you respond? Our response will be determined by the type of soil in your heart. 2 Corinthians 13:5~Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (ESV) Advent is here and you have been given Hope today in Jesus Christ. How will you respond?