He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field … Matthew 13:24
With the increasing polarization in the response to His ministry and teaching, Jesus turned to the parable in order to teach His disciples about the kingdom of heaven in terms they could understand. At the same time these parables served to veil truth from hard-hearted unbelievers. Having studied the prototypical, parable of the sower, last week, this week we will conclude our look at the four husbandry parables, “Big Fields and Little Seeds,” in chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel. As an agrarian society, the people who heard Jesus’ parable of the sower (13:1-8), parable of the weeds (13:24-30), and parable of the mustard seed and leaven (13:31-33), would have been very familiar with their language, but only those who were given “ears to hear,” were able to understand and submit to their ethics.
What are we to make of apparent inconsistencies like slavery in Christian America? How about apartheid in Reformed South Africa? How could Christian Europe sit back and watch the Holocaust of six million Jews? And how does the evangelical church seem to be so undisturbed by abortion in our day? Looking at church history, it can be hard for us to hope in that which we are told is a powerful and transforming Gospel which seems to have so little influence on the surrounding society. In the parable of the weeds, Jesus gives an explanation for what seems to be a grand contradiction in God’s church. In the midst of this field which represents the visible manifestation of the “kingdom of heaven,” where Jesus has sown good Gospel seeds into the heart of true believers, an enemy has sown bad seeds that give rise to tares (false converts). Rather than going on a mission to root out these tares from among the wheat, the parable calls for the true church to stand under the Gospel, until the coming judgment day when Christ and His angels will thresh the wheat and winnow the chaff. At that time He will gather the believers together and cast the false converts into hell. The two “little seed” parables reveal that while the kingdom of God may seem small and insignificant, it is actually quite powerful. Both the “big field” and “little seed” parables encourage the believer that, even though we may not see it with our eyes, Christ is King and our God reigns!