************ Sermon on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 14, 2004
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
"The Kingdom Warning"
I started my working career with a hoe in my hand. I hoed potatoes, I hoed sugar beets, I hoed in my mother's garden. I remember hoeing the quack grass in the tobacco fields until it felt like my arms would fall off. And, before harvest time my brothers and I had to go through the fields and pull out the big weeds that were growing. There was probably no job on the farm I disliked as much as hoeing or pulling out the weeds.
In the last couple of churches I served I had big vegetable gardens. One of the jobs that I actually enjoyed was hoeing out the weeds and keeping the garden neat. And, as a minister of the gospel one of my callings – together with the elders – is hoeing out evil from the church. It is part of our calling to resist evil and to keep the church pure and holy. But, just as in the fields of my youth, the "weeds" and the "wheat" are intermingled and intertwined. How do we pull out the one without destroying the other?
The presence of weeds is always a problem, isn't it?!
I Weeds & Wheat in the Kingdom
A Jesus knows about weeds. He is the sower of good seed. But another sows too. His name is Satan. His seeds are the weeds of discord and disobedience.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sows good seed in his field, but while everyone is asleep, someone else sows weeds among the wheat. When the wheat and the weeds began to grow, the slaves asked the owner where the weeds came from. He answers, "An enemy did this" (Mt 13:28). When the servants ask the owner if they should destroy the weeds, the owner says
(Mt 13:29-30) "No ... because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. (30) Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."
B This is a parable about evil. The problem of evil is as old as creation. Adam and Eve struggled with evil in the Garden of Eden. In this parable, Jesus tells us that the problem of evil will continue to be a problem until His return. So Jesus tells us to be patient! When the servants ask the owner if they should destroy the evil weeds, the owner says "No".
We need to understand this in the proper way. You see, some have used this parable to say that church discipline should not be carried out. Yet that would go contrary to the teachings of Jesus Himself, and that of His apostles. Jesus taught there would be occasions for church discipline (Mt 18:15-17). Paul instructed the churches in Corinth and Thessalonica concerning the need and methodology of church discipline (1 Co 5:1-13; 2 Th 3:6-15).
The point of this parable is that Jesus Himself will not do anything visible until the end of the age when He comes with His angels. In the end time, the time of harvest, God will handle the problem of evil. He will remove it and all traces of it from His church and kingdom.
This parable is offered because the church at the time of Matthew had evil within her. Even within the confines of the New Testament church, there were life-destroying influences. Jesus does not answer the problem of evil through the parable. He does, though, offer a word of hope, and a word of caution. He told the early Christians that ultimately God will deal with evil and sin.
We know that the church today also has evil – sometimes great evil – within her. When churches split and are disunified, that is always because of the presence of sin. When young Christian men talk about and treat young Christian women as sexual objects, that is always because of the presence of sin. When young Christian women obsess about sex and let it fill their every thought, that is always because of the presence of sin. When girls are sexually abused by a family member or trusted family friend, that is always because of the presence of sin. When Christian leaders become unfaithful in marriage, that is always because of the presence of sin. When members develop problems with drugs and alcohol, that is always because of the presence of sin. When Christians seek first money and things rather than the kingdom and its righteousness, that is always because of the presence of sin. Why do I mention all of these? Because these are all real sins that I saw in the church this past week. The church struggles constantly with the presence of sin and evil in her midst. To us, too, Jesus offers a word of hope, and a word of caution. He tells us that ultimately God will deal with evil and sin.
II A Warning
A When we read the parable we see a warning. Jesus tells us that at the end of the age the angels will
(Mt 13:41-42) ... weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (42) They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Notice, the weeds are in the kingdom. They are part of the church. Like the weeds of Jesus' day, they look exactly like the wheat. They attend worship Sunday after Sunday. Their names are written in the church's membership records. They listen to the sermons. They participate in the Lord's Supper. They believe Jesus is the Savior from sin. But they are weeds.
What's the problem? How can someone believe in Jesus, or claim to believe in Jesus, and still be a weed that someday will be pulled out and thrown into the fiery furnace?
B There are many people today who accept Jesus as Savior without accepting Him as Lord. That is what Jesus is talking about in the parable. These people believe that Jesus died on the cross for them. But, they don't want Him as their Master and Guide and Lord and King. They accept Jesus as their crucified Savior but not as their ascended and reigning King.
It is easy to see why people like this view. Under this view you can get what you want from Jesus without submitting your will to His. You can get your debt of sin paid without yielding your life to Him. You can count on Him to help you, even if you don't let Him take ownership. You can have Him as Savior but not as Lord.
C The only problem is that this does not work. That's what Jesus is saying to us in the parable. The weeds are in the kingdom and someday they must be pulled out. You see, Jesus didn't just pay the price for your sins. He also paid the price for you! "You are not your own," says Paul, "you were bought at a price" (1 Cor 6:19-20). So how can you say Jesus saves you and yet act as if He doesn't own you!?
On this Lord's Supper Sunday we are being reminded that you cannot accept Jesus as Savior and reject Him as Lord. The Bible doesn't just say, "Believe in Jesus and you will be saved." It says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). It says that "if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom 10:9).
If you don't have Jesus as Lord, you don't have Him as Savior either. That's what it comes down to. You can't cut Jesus in half and take the part you want and reject the part you don't want. You can't take the "Savior" part of Jesus and reject the "Lord" part of Jesus. You cannot separate the saving work of Jesus from the ruling or lordship work of Jesus. You cannot expect Jesus to buy you with His blood but not move in and take over, any more than you could sell a home and expect the new owner not to move in.
Subtopic: Examples of
You have probably seen such signs many times. When a company takes over another company, there is often a sign placed outside the premises announcing, "Under New Management."
When someone accepts Jesus as Savior, that person is literally "under new management." How hard it is to learn this lesson, and to acknowledge the new authority in our lives!
How hard it is for those who have obeyed the flesh, to obey the Lord Jesus Christ! But that's what is required when you become a Christian.
Jesus is Savior and Lord. He didn't come only to rescue you. He also came to rule you. "For this very reason," says Paul, "Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living" (Rom 14:9). When you receive Christ, you receive all of Him, not just part of Him. And when Christ purchases you, He wants all of you, not just part of you.
This morning we were reminded that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. Thank God for that. But that's not the whole of the Gospel message. The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey puts it, is that Jesus also ascended into heaven, sat on a throne at God's right hand, and has all honor and power and glory and authority. He is Lord of all, so I must submit to Him in all of life and must do all that He commands.
The Gospel is not just a series of articles or statements of faith that we must believe in order to be saved. The Gospel is also a King to be obeyed, a Majesty to be adored, and a Glory to bow before.
This means you cannot afford to accept Jesus as Savior without also accepting Him as Lord. Nor can you afford to squeeze Jesus into a small little corner of your life – say, Sunday morning. The Lord Jesus claims everything in the universe as His. And, He claims everything in your life and my life as belonging to Him too. There's not one moment of your life, not one relationship you value, not one decision you make, not one dollar you earn, not one subject you study, not one game that you play, not one job you work at, not one leisure activity you enjoy, that is exempt from the rule of Christ. There is not one square inch of this universe about which Jesus does not say, "It is mine!" And there is not a single part of your life or my life about which Jesus does not say, "It is mine!" We must surrender all of life to the control of King Jesus.
Jesus is king; He is a demanding king. He demands our all. He wants us to totally serve Him in every area of life. He wants us to hold no area back.
Topic: HalfheartednessThe point of this story: if we don't surrender all of our life to the control of King Jesus, if we give Him all but one small nail, then Satan will hang his rotting garbage on it and make us unfit for Christ. If Jesus is King, then we must give Him all of life.
Title: Total Commitment
I've told you before the story of a man in Haiti who wanted to sell his house for $2,000.00. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn't afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one condition: he would retain ownership of one small nail located just over the front door.
After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
D Let me remind you of the Gospel warning in our parable again. At the end of the age the angels of Jesus will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I want to remind you again that they were in the kingdom and part of the church. They believed in Jesus as Savior. But they never followed Him as Lord.
I cannot end on this note because the Bible does not end on this note. The Bible ends not with the wicked but with the righteous. We are told that they "will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
Who are these righteous? They are those who believe in Jesus as Savior and obey Him as Lord. They are those who believe that Jesus not only died for them but also reigns over them.
These righteous "will shine like the sun." Theirs is glory and honor. Theirs is position and power. They, quite simply, are heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Are you? You ate and drank at the Lord's Table this morning and have confessed Jesus as Savior. But have you also crowned Him as Lord of your life, as Master of your soul, as King of your mind, as Ruler of your will, as the Majesty over your heart?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page