“It’s Not My Job”
Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
There are always temptations as a preacher to take shortcuts when reading a text and preparing to preach on it. One of those temptations is to say that we know the text so well that we don’t need to do a thorough study of it in getting ready to preach. Another is to look at a passage and forget that it falls within a much larger narrative. One that includes not only the passages immediately surrounding it, but also the entirety of the book in which it is contained.
As we look at Matthew 13, it could be easy to forget that this passage is informed by the surrounding material the Gospel writer gives to us. As I mentioned last week, this chapter includes 7 parables, 5 of which will be touched on in these three weeks. As we hear today the Parable of the Weeds, we remember that it’s placed within the context of the Parable of the Sower, who spreads seed far and wide and desires that it would grow, even though He knows that some of it will fall on infertile ground. Because He knows that there will also be fertile hearts on which much of that seed will fall as well. “He who has ears, let him hear.”
As we explore these texts, they’re all placed within the context of the broader Biblical narrative. The message that I hope you’re hear every Sunday. Because it’s the same message that every Scripture leads us to. And that’s the simple message that
WE ARE SINNERS IN NEED OF A SAVIOR. AND GOD HAS PROVIDED THAT SAVIOR TO US IN HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, WHO SUFFERED AND DIED IN OUR PLACE SO THAT WE MIGHT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.
Of course, you’ve heard this message before because it’s the one which resonates throughout the entirety of Scripture. Regardless of what passage we’re, in the end, the central message is always the same. And that message is that we are sinners in need of a Savior, but not a one of us is capable of being that savior. And since we’re not able to do it, thanks be to God that He has done it for us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. In essence, we can sit back and say, It’s Not My Job.
And there’s not a whole lot of places where we can get away with that attitude. At work, it’s not going to fly with your boss. At home, it’s certainly not going to fly with your spouse. Kids, don’t try it on your parents. And yet, when it comes to the most important place of all, your relationship with God, you can confidently say that the work of salvation is entirely Not My Job.
Today, we heard Jesus telling the crowd, and His disciples, the parable of the weeds. And among other messages, Jesus is telling His servants who are in the world that there are certain tasks which are just simply not their job. When the servants come to the Master, they ask Him a rather silly question. “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?” Of course, in His answer the Master reminds them that He only sows good seed. He does this by alerting them to the culprit, the enemy, the evil one, who has sown the weeds among the wheat. Certainly, the Master sympathizes with the servants. He doesn’t value having weeds growing in His field. But He also knows that, until the end of the world, there will always be a mixture of good and evil. And He also knows that rooting out this evil may be damaging to His kingdom. And so, He asks His servants for patience and trust. Patience, as they endure the evil that has been sown in their field. And trust, that in the end, the Master will render judgment over all things.
This is one of the best comparisons in all of Scripture to the world we currently live in. We look around and it’s easy to see that we’re in a field of wheat. It’s hard to deny that God has created for us an incredible world in which we’re blessed to live. Although there are people who do fail to see and acknowledge the blessing we have in this world. The problem is that when we look around hard enough, we’re also able to see all the evil that is being sown in and amongst the wheat. The enemy continues to sow weeds and he’s very good at disguising them to look an awful lot like wheat.
To fully understand the Master’s command to His servants not to pull up the weeds, we need to understand a couple things about those weeds. Weeds, as we know, often have very deep roots. Pulling out a weed can often mean tearing up anything that’s around it as well, as its roots are intertwined with the desirable things that are growing beside it. The Master doesn’t want one of His own to be uprooted for the sake of taking out one of the enemy’s. As much as He’d like to root out evil, a one for one trade off just isn’t acceptable to Him. So, He says to His servants, that’s not your job.
Secondly, to understand this parable fully it’s necessary to realize that it’s likely that Jesus is talking about a very specific type of weed that would have been very familiar to those who were hearing the story. Bearded Darnel is a weed that grows in grainfields and is often called wheat’s evil twin. Especially in the early stages of growth, it’s nearly impossible to tell the wheat apart from the weed. With this realization we can understand the second reason why the Master would not want His servants pulling the weeds. If they can’t be distinguished from one another, the likelihood of pulling the good while attempting to root out the evil is just too high. And this isn’t a chance the Master is willing to take. So again, He says to the servants, it’s not your job.
Unfortunately, evil continues to masquerade as good in our world today. It’s too often difficult to distinguish what’s good from what’s evil, because the evil one is very good at disguising it until it’s taken root. It’s the very same trick he played in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve when He attempted to place doubt in their minds about what was good and what was evil. Rooting out the evil may not be our job, but discerning good from evil, and calling out the evil for what it is, certainly is our job as Christians. In some cases, it may be the most important job we have, lest evil gain such a foothold that it chokes out all that is good.
As I said before, God is asking His people for both patience and trust, but living in patience and trust is difficult. Patience could easily lead to condoning evil. If good and evil are going to exist until the end, then why not just ignore the evil and let God sort it out in the end? If we were to think this way, the important proclamation of the Law would be silenced. On the other hand, trusting that God will render justice in the future could easily lead to a desire to enact that inevitable judgment now. Why wait until the end? Let’s get rid of the evil and fix this sin sick world right now. If we were to think that way, the proclamation of the Gospel could be silenced.
And so, God calls us to walk a difficult road. A tightrope, if you will. Kind of like the tightrope we walk every day as both saint and sinner. It’s our job to discern what is good and what is evil. To seek the good and to call evil what it is. But it’s not our job to enact judgment on that evil. Our culture, which some have called a cancel culture, wants to call out that which it believes is evil, whether that aligns with what God would call evil or not. The problem is that the one who’s called out has no method or means by which to be forgiven, or restored. The person who said or did something considered evil by the culture, no matter how long ago it was, is called out on it, they repent with sincere apology, and yet they’re cancelled anyway. One who once committed evil is always considered evil in this system. But this isn’t how it is in the Kingdom of God. The church and her people must be leaders in calling out that which is evil. In proclaiming the Law. But we must also be leading the way in showing the world that the penitent sinner is welcomed back into the fold. We must be constantly proclaiming the Gospel of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ.
Think about it; Jesus Himself suffered and died at the hands of a world that considered some of His words too soft on sin and others too harsh. To some He was blasphemous and to others He was too radical. And for this, His culture crucified Him. He perfectly walked that line of patience and trust and even He suffered at the hands of this world full of both good and evil. And so, today we’re in good company in our time of patience and trust in a world full of both wheat and weeds. Because we have the perfect model of Christ, who in His resurrection from death revealed that He is the author of life. He cannot and will not be controlled by this world. He’s the One who made it. And He’s the One who, in the end, will send His angels to sort out the wheat from the weeds, the good from the evil. Be patient. Trust in Him. He’s given us a great gift by telling us that it’s not our job. When it comes to the separation of good and evil. And, more importantly, when it comes to our salvation. Thanks be to God that it’s not our job. It’s His. And He’s already done it for us. AMEN.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.