Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church
7210 Lisbon Street, San Diego 92114
Pentecost 6A, July 20, 2014
“So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” [Matthew 13:28b-30]
The video clip that you’ve just watched is from the movie, “The Sixth Sense” starring Bruce Willis. And the dialogue that specifically illustrates our message today, are these words: “I want to tell you my secret now. I see dead people” says the boy to Malcolm, Bruce Willis’s character. And Malcolm asks, “In your dreams?” No the boy answers. “While your awake” Malcolm asks? “Yes” says the boy. “Dead people, like in graves; in coffins” asks Malcolm? “No” says the boy. “Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other; they only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.” Malcolm asks, “How often do you see them?” And the boy answers, “All the time. They’re every where.”
In deed, there are walking dead all around us, and they do not know that they are dead; dead in their sins. They think that they are alive and well; some will even tell you that they are blessed and hoping that they are living a God pleasing life. They are so consumed with living their life style that not only do they not see each other, they can’t see God for who He really is.
In our gospel reading (Matthew 13: 24–30, 36–43) this is the situation that Jesus faces as He teaches the crowds; His listeners are dead in their sins and they don’t even know it; they don’t want to know.
Now it’s true that within the crowds of people, there were also true disciples of Jesus; they knew that through Him the Kingdom of God had broken out in their midst, so they clung to every Word that came out of Jesus mouth, but sadly, they were the small minority.
Most of the folks had come to see a miracle; just like people are drawn to the Side shows at carnivals today, they too were drawn to Jesus out of curiosity and the desire to see something mind blowing. And among them were also the Pharisees. They were the teachers who were suppose to help the folks know God, but most of them were just as dead in their sins as the people they were called to teach. They could not see Jesus for who He really was, because they would not see that they were dead in their sins. And because they could not admit this and find new and eternal life, they could not help turn the people’s eyes to God’s only source of salvation. In essence most of the folks remained tightly trapped with in the bondage of death.
And yet, Jesus still teaches them; He still speaks Words that offer and give eternal life. He says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” [v. 43b] But hear what? Hear that through Jesus the Christ, God is acting and reigning in the midst of men and women who are dead in their trespasses, in such a way that He is bringing them new and eternal life. But, God’s way of breaking in and reigning as Lord and Savior comes in a way that most people will not expect, in fact many even find it unsatisfying and unfulfilling. So the message of “The Parable of the Weeds of the Field” that Jesus taught to the curious, was a message that said the Kingdom of God was with them right that moment, but not yet in the way that they might expect, or desire it. But the message also communicated that very soon, in God’s time, things would be much different, but for right now, this humble teacher who is the Son of God in human flesh, is all that you get.
There are many people today who, like the folks in Jesus’s audience then, just don’t want to hear this message. Why? Because they don’t want to wait! And the sad truth is, they are being led by teachers and preachers who don’t wont to wait either. They are the ones who teach that you don’t have to wait; you can have the glory, power, and good times right now, if you just have faith; faith in what they are teaching that is. This message is in complete opposition to Jesus message that guaranteed us that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart” Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33] So our hope is right now, yet it has been deferred for a little while until God acts. Those of us who rest in this hope by faith, are the ones that Jesus calls “good seed!” We are the wheat. But planted right beside us are a whole different kind of plant; a weed called a “darnel”. This kind of weed looks like wheat, but it is only a weed and not fit for anything but burning. So here is the question that Jesus’ audience was to ask themselves and allow God to answer: “Am I good seed or bad seed?” If they had ears to hear and were listening, God’s law was meant to break down their pride and realize that apart from a miracle from God, they were bad seed. Then and only then, would they be enabled to come to Jesus hungering for the gospel, the forgiveness of sins.
But I trust you saints who are gathered here this morning have already answered that question. You have already received the painful blow of the law and have been restored by the healing balm of the gospel. You know who Jesus is and you have become accustomed to waiting on God’s time. You dear saints know all to well that the devil is alive and active in our midst; you too have even met some people that you would swear are “bad seed” or dead men walking. And you may be tempted to root them out, but Jesus who is our Good Master within the parable says to us… “No, not yet!” He tells you not only that you might inadvertently up root good wheat along with the weeds, but He says that the time to act is at harvest… that is the time of the final judgment. That is the time when “the Son of Man will send His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But what are we to do until then? We are to wait for our faithful and gracious God and His time. We are to wait by faith, and it is in that faithful and grace-filled waiting that we “shine like the sun in the kingdom of (our) Father.”
And while we wait, God’s means of grace continues to strengthen both our faith and our resolve to agree with St. Paul in our epistle lesson (Roman 8:18-27) that our present suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (at the resurrection of all God’s saints who rest and trust in Christ alone). But we do not wait alone, do we? No, Saint Paul tells us that all of creation waits along with the church “with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God,” which is the time of final judgment and then reward for all who are the true “good seed.”
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves (who have seen both the agony and the beauty of the cross; the place where God dealt with the sins of the world once and for all through the blood and sacrifice of His Son who is also the Son of man, Jesus Christ). And through the Word of God, our eyes of faith have been turned from a life destined to be bad seed, and instead through the washing of the water and the powerful Word of God, we have been declared good seed!
So while we wait, we who have the first fruits of the Spirit (that is the gospel promises of God’s Word), we wait eagerly for the promised reward of our adoption as God’s sons; that is we wait for the redemption of our bodies, the resurrection of the dead and eternal life. It is in this hope that we are saved!
And as we wait, God invites us to see just who we are resting and trusting in.
In our Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 44:6-8), we hear these Words, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”
Dear friends, there is no God like the God of Scriptures. He says that so wonderfully in these Words, “Apart from me there is no God.” God does not desire that any of you should have any doubt of that truth; it was so important that God the Son Jesus Christ came to us Himself to make this truth undeniable. And yet, sinful hearts still resist that truth.
So to quell all doubts, God has issued a challenge to those who trust in other gods and other messages that claim to be the gospel. He challenges both the devil and those who teach and believe in a false gospel to match His abilities, specifically His power to care for His people who existed in the past and present, and to predict what will happen to His people in the future. The God of Scriptures is a God of action. He does all things for the benefit and the strengthening of faith for His people. This morning God says, “If you are so wise and powerful you supposed lords and teachers, then do what I do; foretell your actions before they take place, and then allow each prediction that you claim has been fulfilled, to be verified! Can any god created by sinful human imaginations, or can any false teacher of those gods do that? No, dear friends, they all remain silent.
And yet your God dear church, is till acting on your behalf. He is still creating and sustaining faith, which waits and trusts in Christ alone. He alone assures you dear children that He can continue to care for you and sustain you as you wait for Him. He assures you that He alone is your Rock; He alone has brought you out of the miry clay of your sins, and He alone will one day restore you in full glory.
This morning God’s mighty Word assures you not to be afraid or tremble. In Jesus parable, you see that God agrees with our assessment that there are indeed dead people all around us, but it is not His will that they would remain dead in their sins, but that they would repent and like you, become good seed as they along with the church wait for the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the dead.
Yes, we are to wait a little while longer, but we are to focus our eyes not on the dead but on the Word of Life, Jesus Christ. Alleluia, alleluia, Lord to whom else would we go? You alone have the Words of eternal life. Help us we pray with a strong faith that gives bold confidence and hope built alone on our King, the Lord Almighty, our Redeemer, the First and the Last. He alone is our Rock, Jesus Christ… AMEN!