Wednesday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:24-30, 34-43; Mark 4:33-34

The Enemy of the Kingdom

Again a parable begins, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to….”  That is the purpose of Jesus’ parables – to teach us about His kingdom.  This parable tells us that there is an enemy within the kingdom, a very real enemy, and he is the devil, otherwise called “the evil one.”  We actually have three enemies: our “flesh,” by which Scripture denominates our sinful nature, the world, which is not our friend (1 John 5:19), and as we have already said, the devil.  The devil as “the tempter” uses the other two to trip us up any way he can.  Yes, we have an enemy, and he truly hates us.

In this parable, Jesus uses an illustration that his listeners would have been very familiar with.  Wheat was a staple of that time, much like today.  So after the master of the house and his servants finished their work and slept, an enemy, the evil one, came and sowed weeds among the wheat.  Now I have read that this weed was probably something called “darnel.”  The “demonic” character of this particular weed is that when it first appears, it is indistinguishable from the wheat.  It is only after some maturation that the difference appears – and then it is too late to do anything but let the wheat and weeds grow together until the harvest when they can be separated.  Jesus explains the parable to his disciples, how the wheat represents the children of the kingdom, the weeds the children of the evil one, and the harvest the end of the world; the weeds are burned up and the wheat gathered into the barn.  So far the meaning is unmistakable.

But there are other lessons here.  To begin, sometimes the wheat and weeds are indistinguishable – sad but true.  Furthermore, we should never judge one’s salvation; that is for God alone.  Sometimes the most “godly” is the biggest hypocrite while the one we think the greatest sinner actually more humble and repentant.  But there is something else here: It seems that God has ordained that evil, though brought on by the fall, is part of God’s plan.  It is necessary that the weeds and the wheat grow together; God forbids the taking of either one out of the world before the time which He has appointed.  One day, He will, and the righteous shall shine like the sun with no evil to hinder them.  So God’s sovereignty is shown in that He uses everything for His purpose, even evil. And do not understand the parable to be teaching that the devil “created” the weeds.  The devil can create nothing; that is something only God can do.  But he does corrupt; that is how he “sows.”  Finally, these parables were hidden from the foundation of the world until revealed by Jesus.  What a bounty the gospels are to us!

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