I wonder when we finally see Jesus face to face with no darkness, completely exposed, free from deception, in all of His glory…is it possible to say “Jesus I overestimated you? You are not as good as I though you would be?”
That may seem like a strange question but isn’t that question in all our hearts? Jesus is in each of us. He holds all things together. The Holy Spirit is illuminating the truth of our inclusion in Him. We are positioned and totally accepted in the Family of God. We are His children. Our adoption has always been His plan. The Light is shining from within the darkness. The Light of Life reveals the God we just don’t know. Jesus reveals the God who made us and formed us and intended for us to be with Him from before time itself. Jesus joined us in His incarnation, crucified our Adamic nature with Him on the cross and raised us again as a new creation, a born-from-above new mankind with the ability and capability to see and perceive and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. He is waiting to be revealed in us. We will, now and in the future and in eternity, see Him as He really is. We can, now and will then, know Him as we are fully known. We surrender to His love and finished work and we make ourselves transparent to His person. We become fully known. We come to know Him as we find Him in all our “hidden” places. Just like seeds planted that are waiting for the right conditions, a revelation of His goodness and our union sprouts in our lives and manifests as the Kingdom within us. Wow!
In “The emerging Jesus seeds” I showed how the parable of the seeds is God’s plan to sow Himself as the Kingdom in all our lives and persons and situations. Check it out if you haven’t. The very next parable (the weeds) takes a similar theme of sowing and reaping and takes the Kingdom dynamic to the next level. When we think “where are you God” or “why is stuff happening” or “I feel so alone” these parables should be so encouraging. Jesus is with us. Emmanuel is His name. “Jehovah Saves” is what Jesus means and is His purpose. Our inclusion in His family is our destiny realized. When we apply our “good bad” logic, our fallen way of thinking, our insistence on self-generated darkness (not trusting God) we find ourselves frustrated and afraid and alone. Those feelings are products of lies born of darkness. None of that is God’s design. All of Him is our portion. Want to see something really amazing in this parable of the weeds?
Here are the verses….short so I list them all.
Matt 13:24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 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.’” (ESV)
There is much here that can be pondered in great detail. If you have a hunger for understanding the parables, I highly recommend “Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus” by Robert Capon. It is an amazing look at what Jesus was trying to tell us. Let me just pick a few highlights.
First the Kingdom is ever-present. There is not “when this happens” with respect to the Kingdom arrival in this parable. The seeds in this parable are like “the seed of Abraham” (different from the sower parable which is sowing of Himself the Word) so they are the “plants” that grow in the Kingdom (which is ever-present). Next the enemy comes when they are sleeping. Nobody was “laying down on the job” but were just going about normal life. They didn’t know the weeds were there until the “wheat” began to bear grains (fruit). The first question they ask the master is the same we often ask God…”why did this happen, I thought you were good.” The response is brief and astonishing really. All He says is “an enemy has done this.” No explanation of why or for what purpose or any of that. It just happened. Sometimes we need to hear that. The servants who appear to be knowledgable farmers ask the master if they should go and pull out the weeds. Anyone who knows anything about farming realizes that you get the weeds before they have a chance to really take root, before they get too big. The “master knows better” and says the good plants (light) could be uprooted by the servants if they pulled out the weeds (darkness). Then He says this:
Matt 13:30a Allow both to grow together until the harvest…(NASB)
Here is the greek word for “allow:”
aphete from the word aphiémi: (from 575 /apó, “away from” and hiēmi, “send”) – properly, send away; release (discharge).
Various forms of this word appear 146 times in the New Testament. 49 times it is translated as some form of “forgiveness.” 54 times it is translated as some form of “left alone.” Other English words used are “permit” or “allow” or “tolerate.” Are you beginning to “see” something different in this verse? Here is the word used in a familiar passage:
John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (ESV)
In verse 23 aphiémi is translated as forgive or forgiven. Really?
Jesus’ greatest victory was in His death. I don’t know if we can really grasp the depth of that moment. His greatest act of defeating evil was to let evil work through us to kill Him. In doing the killing we killed ourselves in our old nature. It was like a great “judo” move to take all our rejection of Him and use it to save us. Isn’t that crazy?
In the same way when we see the lies of the darkness pop up around us our first reaction should be to forgive and tolerate and permit until God gets rid of the weeds and harvests the fruit. No person is all good or all bad in the context of this parable. We all have “lies” from the “darkness” that will run their course. In the end His fruit of truth will be harvested and the lies will be destroyed. We just keep planting seeds of truth. We let Him pull the weeds. When we insist on “being right” then we can be just like these servants and cause more damage than good. God has already forgiven. We get to forgive. The truth will produce fruit. We just keep sowing those seeds, those declarations of His finished work.
Just before reading about this parable in Capon’s book I wrote this in my “journal”:
Our insistence on assistance is often the very motion that produces commotion that resists His intent; which needs no interaction apart from our participation. Dirt does nothing to grow a seed of the Kingdom. Resistance to the truth of a God who does it all, is a stone in the path of the plow. Our need to be in control is hard ground that doesn’t receive the seed. When we reject the seed altogether (the cross) we kill the seed which was exactly the action that brought a new-creation from the soil. Are we doing the same thing today? When we don’t trust His finished work and our inclusion but substitute our desire for rightness, we likely find ourselves in the hell of rejecting his love while producing the very environment for His faithfulness. Isn’t it odd that our intense desire to live and move and operate from the “good bad tree” is where He plows deeply the soil that will receive the seed of Jesus. When we find ourselves in the place of being right above all else, we miss the tender embrace of the one who is always right. He doesn’t need my help but he uses my effort even when I get it absolutely wrong. In the final moment He will say…Do you know me? To know Him is to love him. To love him is to let him love us. To let him love us is to embrace the triune love of our Father who will hug us to death (if required) when we refuse His unconditional acceptance.
I hope you are letting this soak in like a good rain on a farmer’s field. Even when we see the weeds we have to trust Him. Can you trust God that much? Can you dare to believe that He is so good that we can trust Him in the middle of all the darkness? Can we believe that He knows best about weeds and wheat? Can we ever overestimate His goodness?
I believe Jesus gives us parables like this so we will know with certainty that we can never go to far when it comes to having faith in His faithfulness. The Light shines in the darkness!