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The Wheat and the Tares

St. Matthew 12.24-30,36-43


Pentecost 5, Proper 11, series A
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Jul 17, 2011 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Today Jesus tells us a parable about the kingdom of God.  A man plants good seed in his field.  But after he plants his wheat, his enemy comes by night and plants tares.  The two grow together until they start to produce their fruit, and then, once the fruit is on the plants, the sabotage is unmistakable: There are weeds in the wheat.  The farmer, wise man that he is, realizes that uprooting the weeds before the wheat matures would destroy the wheat along with the weeds.  So he waits.  Patiently he waits, watching over his crop day and night, tending to it lovingly; until harvest time—and then, he sends his workers first to gather the tares, and throw them on the fire.  After the tares have been destroyed, only then does the farmer send his workers to gather the wheat and store it away safe and sound.

2 Like all Jesus' parables, this one is an earthly story with a heavenly message.  As Jesus explains it, the field in which the seed is sown is the world.  The good seed, the wheat plants, are the children of the kingdom of God.  The tares are the enemies of God and the church, sown by the devil himself.  And the harvest is the end of the age, when the angels of God shall come down at Christ's command.  First, they will gather all who are stained with offense and iniquity and cast them into the everlasting fire.  And then, these very same angels will gather up the saints of God and bring them safe and sound into the brightness of heavenly glory.

3 With this parable, Jesus teaches us about himself, and about us as the children of the kingdom. 

[St. Matthew 13.37b-38]

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man.  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one.

Jesus is the owner of the world and all it contains, just as the farmer in the story is the owner of his field.  He watches over us with wisdom, love, and patience just as a farmer does his crops.  And he cannot be tricked by the devil, no matter how crafty he is.  Jesus has planted us where we are, and by his grace he nurtures us, watches over us, and protects us from all evil.

4 Is there evil in our midst here at Meramec Bluffs?  No doubt, there is.  But even as we face the devil and his evil schemes, Christ watches over us here in our part of his field.  He nurtures us by his Holy Word.  He strengthens us with his Blessed Sacraments.  He sends us his Spirit to guide us in his truth, and opens our eyes to see the evil in our midst that we might rebuke it, avoid it, and finally overcome it.

5 Jesus continues:

[St. Matthew 13.39-42]

The enemy that sowed (the tares) is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world.  the son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

God knows all the players in the game that is life in this world.  He knows what the devil is up to.  He knows the deeds of the children of the wicked one.  And he promises us that their wickedness will have an end.  Nothing is hid from God.  No evil is so secret that he does not know.  Jesus Christ our Lord is fully aware even of our iniquity and our offenses. 

6 Knowing that the angels will come on the last day and gather up both the saints and the wicked, Jesus calls us to repentance with this parable today.  He calls on us to repent of our sins and bring forth the fruit of faithfulness and love, so that we will be among those gathered for the kingdom of God on the Last Day.

7 When the end of the age arrives, every evil will be removed from among the children of the kingdom.  Every evil person, every evil spirit, every evil thing on the earth will be gathered up by the angels of God and cast into everlasting fire.  All offense against God will be thrown onto the flames.  Every iniquity will be burned up and destroyed.  And all who do them will suffer the wailing and gnashing of teeth of those condemned to the fate of the devil and his angels.

8 By this point in the parable, it should be clear to us which group we want to be in at the end of the age.  We don't want to be the tares, whose eternal fate is fire and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Jesus warns us with these vivid images of the punishment of the wicked in order to move us to repent of all sins that still entangle our souls, and by his grace be kept safe in the kingdom of God. 

9 Finally, Jesus reveals the blessings in store for his faithful followers.

[St. Matthew 13.43]

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

After the wicked are removed from among the saints, all the children of the kingdom will live in the light of God the Father and shine forth as those forgiven their sins, redeemed by Christ, and restored to the brightness of the immortal image of God.

10 Here Christ reveals our future in eternity.  Freed from the effects of the devil and all evil, we will rise from the dead on the Last Day, and be gathered up by the angels of God in fulfillment of the words of the prophet Daniel. 

[Daniel 12:2-3]

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  And they that be wise shall sine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

After the harvest of the great and glorious Day of the Lord, we will shine like the stars above, and live forever with all the saints in the light of God on high. 

11 Confident of Christ's mercy and trusting in his Word, we live our lives on earth as the children of the kingdom of God.  We repent of our sins.  We strive by the Spirit to produce the fruit of faith in our lives.  By the grace of God, we trust in Christ to protect and preserve us, we love our neighbors as ourselves, and we set our eyes and our hope on the coming of the Lord.  All our lives, Christ, our Lord and Savior watches over us, nurtures us, and protects us in his heavenly wisdom, grace, and patience.  And all the while, we look forward to the Last Day, and the coming of the angels and the appearing of Christ on the clouds.  For we know that Christ has planted us within the safety and security of his Church.  And that here, among the saints and the holy things of God, he protects us from all evil.  On the Last Day he will come in glory to deliver us from the wicked foe and all his ways, finally and completely.  When Christ comes again, he will remove every evil from our midst and restore in us the heavenly glory that once was ours in Eden.  And that glory will be ours forever with the saints in the light of God.  So even while we live among the tares of the devil in this dark world, we pray with heartfelt faith and unrelenting fervor: Come, Lord Jesus.  Come quickly.  Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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