“Judging the Harvest”
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Last week we talked about what it meant to prepare a garden as Jesus taught us the parable of the sower. He told us that we had to be fertile soil ourselves so that the Word of God can take seed inside of us and grow. This week we talk about the other end of the gardening process, we talk about the harvest.
One thing that’s really neat about the growing season is that everything ripens at different times of the summer and fall. Different fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest at different times of the year. Strawberries come in late June, blueberries in August, apples in the fall. Different vegetables come at different times too. Over the summer and fall it is a wonderful spread of fresh produce which could be different from week to week!
But there is one constant all season long. Weeds.
If you don’t take care of the weeds they can take over your garden. And once weeds get in and take over a piece of land, it takes a lot of work to bring it back.
When we moved into the manse two years ago, the back yard was… well… somewhat of a jungle. Two years later, we’ve managed to get some grass growing, but it’s taken a lot of sweat and dirty fingernails to get it to this point. And we’re not even half way done. Most of the yard is still weeds, but we’ve managed to get some grass poking up here and there in less than half of it. Mind you, it looks a whole lot better than it did. Which isn’t too bad for a couple who have no clue about gardening.
Jesus follows up his parable of the sower with the parable of the harvest. Jesus starts by telling us of the farmer who sowed good seed, but at night someone snuck in and planted bad seeds, weeds which were planted to spoil the harvest. So what are they to do? Should they go in and start ripping out the weeds?
The farmer says no, because if they did that they could harm the wheat that he is trying to grow. Losing any of his wheat would impact his ability to feed his family, and make any kind of profit. He told them he would wait until the harvest, because then it would be a lot easier to gather the wheat and the weeds separately. Apparently the wheat and the weeds, at first were hard to distinguish from each other, and the farmer didn’t want to risk having his wheat pulled out with the weeds.
The farmer didn’t trust their ability to properly judge if the plant was good or bad before it was the right time.
We seem to have a number of sayings that reflect this kind of attitude. “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Stuff like that.
But we do, don’t we? We are judging people all the time. We judge people by what they wear. We judge them by what they drive. We judge them by where they live. We might even judge them by their name or family history.
It’s a hard world we live in. So why do we make it harder for people who may not have all that we have to make it ahead in life by judging them? Are we identifying them as weeds? Are we trying to clear them out of our garden?
Who did Jesus walk with? Jesus walked with the sinners of his time. The ones who were declared unclean by those who saw themselves as righteous and above everyone else. Jesus walked with them, he taught them, he listened to them, he lived with them. And those who saw themselves in positions of authority chastised him for it. Saying that if he were indeed the Son of God, then maybe he should act like it.
Well, he did.
Jesus did act as the son of the one who loves us all. The one who knows the number of hairs on our heads. The one who knows our life before it even begins. Jesus loved the ones God loves and wants to share this amazing love with. Jesus walked with those who felt no love in their lives, and showed them how God loved them. Weeds, wheat, whatever. Jesus loved them all.
Today, we welcomed someone new into the family of God through the baptism of Tara. We’ve made promises that we will help nurture her. We have promised to be a community of support for her. We have promised that we will help teach her in the ways of God, and we have promised to pray for her.
We are now part of her family. Yes we won’t see much of her as she heads home. But today, a seed has been planted within her. As she grows she will experience many different things in her life. She will explore this world and what it has to offer. And we will continue to hold her in prayer as she makes this journey. Praying that God will guide her, that God will protect her from all harm, and that she will know Him.
There’s much in this world that makes us shake our head. People who act in certain ways in our communities who we might call a bad bunch. Yet, Jesus reminds us that the harvest has not yet come. There is still time for what might look like a weed to mature and become a more valuable plant, something worth harvesting.
Jesus explains his parable to the disciples. He is the farmer, he is the one who plants the seeds on the earth. The good seeds, they are his. They are the ones who will enter the kingdom of heaven. The bad seeds, the weeds, they burn in the fire.
The good news folks is that while you can’t turn a weed into a tomato, we can change. We aren’t plants which are genetically designed to be one thing and one things only. We are designed to be human beings, yes, but because of the choices we make in our lives, we are each unique individuals.
So even if you’ve spent your life being a worthless weed, it’s never too late to turn into a more fruitful person. The harvest hasn’t come yet, so there’s still time to change, if you haven’t already. If you aren’t a weed, or have stopped being a weed, then there’s still time to help others turn away from their ways too.
There’s one very important piece of information we all need to remember… we don’t know when the harvest is coming. It can come at any time. None of us know when our day will come. We may have decades left, or it may be days.
The question is, where do you want to spend eternity?
Once you’ve left this earth, Jesus tells us there’s two places to go. The kingdom of God, or the furnace of fire.
We can change. We can change ourselves to be people of God, fruits of His Spirit, people of His Kingdom, people who live in the light of a God who loves us more than any person on earth possibly could.
We can also help others turn from their evil ways and come to know God as one who not only offers love, but a better life, both here on earth and in the life beyond. Through offering the peace of Christ to people we are helping spread the good seed that Jesus is sowing in the earth. Seeds which change a barren land into a land of hope. A land where God reigns and people can see His beauty and turn away from that which destroys their lives and the lives of many others.
This is the garden I want to live in. I want to live in God’s garden with others who see the beauty He has planted through his Son, Jesus Christ. I want to share this garden with all who want to know a better life for themselves and their families. I want to help Jesus turn weeds into flowers. I want to help Jesus spread the love of God to those who know no love in their lives. I want people to know there is a Father in heaven who loves them more than any earthly father. I hope you do to.
Jesus is working the garden, working miracles all over the place by turning bad weeds into beautiful flowers, turning a darkened world into a world of light. Jesus is bringing the love of God to the people of the earth, so they may know the goodness He offers to those who wish to receive this gift. It’s a free choice.
We don’t judge because we don’t know what God is doing. We don’t turn people away from an opportunity to learn about God, because God is always at work in us and in others. Working to make a better world for us. Working to prepare people for the harvest that is to come. Working to bring people into the glory of the heavenly kingdom so that all who know Him may enter and give thanks for the love He so freely gives.
Let us let God do his work. Let’s let Christ spread his seed. And if we can help, even just one enter into the harvest, we are making the garden just that much more beautiful.