6 The Lord is the king of Israel.
The Lord of heaven’s armies saves Israel.
The Lord says, “I am the beginning and the end.
I am the only God.
7 There is no other God like me.
If there is, then that god should come and prove it.
Who has announced coming events from the beginning?
He should tell what will happen in the future.
8 Don’t be afraid! Don’t worry!
I have always told you what will happen.
You are my witnesses.
There is no other God.
I know of no other Rock. I am the only One.”
12 So, my brothers, we must not be ruled by our sinful selves. We must not live the way our sinful selves want. 13 If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, then you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit’s help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, then you will have true life.
14 The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them. 15 The Spirit that we received is not a spirit that makes us slaves again to fear. The Spirit that we have makes us children of God. And with that Spirit we say, “Father, dear Father.”[a] 16 And the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say that we are God’s children. 17 If we are God’s children, then we will receive the blessings God has for us. We will receive these things from God together with Christ. But we must suffer as Christ suffered, and then we will have glory as Christ has glory.
Our Future Glory
18 We have sufferings now. But the sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us. 19 Everything that God made is waiting with excitement for the time when God will show the world who his children are. The whole world wants very much for that to happen. 20 Everything that God made was changed to become useless. This was not by its own wish. It happened because God wanted it. But there was this hope: 21 that everything God made would be set free from ruin. There was hope that everything God made would have the freedom and glory that belong to God’s children.
22 We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain, like a woman ready to give birth. 23 Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of God’s promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children. I mean we are waiting for our bodies to be made free. 24 We were saved, and we have this hope. If we see what we are waiting for, then that is not really hope. People do not hope for something they already have. 25 But we are hoping for something that we do not have yet. We are waiting for it patiently.
A Story About Wheat and Weeds
24 Then Jesus told them another story. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field. 25 That night, when everyone was asleep, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. Then the enemy went away. 26 Later, the wheat grew and heads of grain grew on the wheat plants. But at the same time the weeds also grew. 27 Then the man’s servants came to him and said, ‘You planted good seed in your field. Where did the weeds come from?’ 28 The man answered, ‘An enemy planted weeds.’ The servants asked, ‘Do you want us to pull up the weeds?’ 29 The man answered, ‘No, because when you pull up the weeds, you might also pull up the wheat. 30 Let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest time. At harvest time I will tell the workers this: First gather the weeds and tie them together to be burned. Then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn.’”
Jesus Explains About the Wheat and Weeds
36 Then Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. His followers came to him and said, “Explain to us the meaning of the story about the weeds in the field.”
37 Jesus answered, “The man who planted the good seed in the field is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world. And the good seed are all of God’s children in the kingdom. The weeds are those people who belong to the Evil One. 39 And the enemy who planted the bad seed is the devil. The harvest time is the end of the age. And the workers who gather are God’s angels.
40 “The weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire. It will be this way at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels. They will gather out of his kingdom all who cause sin and all who do evil. 42 The angels will throw them into the blazing furnace. There the people will cry and grind their teeth with pain. 43 Then the good people will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let those with ears use them and listen!
In this parable does Jesus instruct people to be very careful in planting their crops, to go over the ground and pick out every weed when it begins to grow? Is it our job to rid our fields of these unwanted, and sometimes dangerous plants? No! We are explicitly told not to pull the weeds, that in doing so we might harm the good plants. We need to be patient and wait until the harvest, then the weeds can be set apart from the good growth and discarded. Of course, we are not the ones who will be doing the separating and discarding. That is God’s work, not ours.
There are two things that really strike me about this story, the first is that it is so similar in themes and in ideas to the parable of the sower. In both we have people planting seeds and in both we have unwanted plants and other obstacles in the way. In neither story does Jesus direct us to worry about the obstacles though. If we remember that these stories are not really about plants, but about people and the Word of God we can think about how it might actually work for us. Imagine you know someone who does not go to church, maybe they have never even heard about Jesus. This person is a great example of where a seed can be planted by sharing the story of Jesus, sharing the Word of God. Now maybe this person doesn’t know about church because they were raised with a different religion, maybe their parents did not believe in any God at all, or maybe something bad had happened in their lives that made them too angry and sad. These things are like the rocks, the thorns and birds. They stop the seeds from growing and they stop the person from truly hearing and believing the Word of God. Does that mean that sharing the story of Jesus with them is a waste of time? Absolutely not! Even if only one in ten, one in one hundred, people like this hear and believe, then you have done the work that God gave you. If we think about the story of the weeds as being about people, we have someone who is learning about God, but is surrounded by people who don’t believe, people who are bad, people who might work against God. Is it our job to pluck these people like weeds, to punish them and protect the others? Nope. We just plant the seeds and trust God to separate things at the harvest. By trying to remove the negative people we might actually hurt the good, or drive them away from their own growth.
The second thing that strikes me about this story, and the sower is that it is not about us really. It is about God’s power, God’s work, and our simply having faith. Jesus does not share parables where the plants grow in all good soil with no rocks, no thorns and no weeds. Just like a real garden, even the best maintained, most watched over garden will get a few weeds, life is not free of negative people and things. We should aim to plant ourselves in good soil, but not give up when we see a weed, or encounter a rock. We need to keep growing ourselves, focused on Jesus, and trust that in the end God will free us from the weeds.