Weeds among the Wheat
24Jesus then told them this story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.
26When the plants came up and began to mature, the farmer's servants could see the weeds. 27The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn't you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”
28“An enemy did this,” he replied.
His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”
29“No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat. 30Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I'll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I'll order them to store the wheat in my barn.”
Stories about a Mustard Seed
(Mark 4.30-32; Luke 13.18-21)
31Jesus told them another story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a farmer plants a mustard seed in a field. 32Although it is the smallest of all seeds, it grows larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree. Birds even come and nest on its branches.
33Jesus also said:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a woman mixes a little yeast into three big batches of flour. Finally, all the dough rises.
The Reason for Teaching
34Jesus used stories when he spoke to the people. In fact, he did not tell them anything without using stories. 35 So God's promise came true, just as the prophet had said,
“I will use stories
to speak my message
and to explain things hidden
since the creation
of the world.”
Jesus Explains the Story
36After Jesus left the crowd and went inside, his disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the story about the weeds in the wheat field.”
The one who scattered the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seeds are the people who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are those who belong to the evil one, 39and the one who scattered them is the devil. The harvest is the end of time, and angels are the ones who bring in the harvest.
40Weeds are gathered and burned. That's how it will be at the end of time. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. 42Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. 43 But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention!
A Hidden Treasure
44The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when someone finds a treasure hidden in a field and buries it again. Such a person is happy and goes and sells everything in order to buy that field.
A Valuable Pearl
45The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a shop owner is looking for fine pearls. 46After finding a very valuable one, the owner goes and sells everything in order to buy that pearl.
A Fish Net
47The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a net is thrown into a lake and catches all kinds of fish. 48When the net is full, it is dragged to the shore, and the fishermen sit down to separate the fish. They keep the good ones, but throw the bad ones away. 49That's how it will be at the end of time. Angels will come and separate the evil people from the ones who have done right. 50Then those evil people will be thrown into a flaming furnace, where they will cry and grit their teeth in pain.
New and Old Treasures
51Jesus asked his disciples if they understood all these things. They said, “Yes, we do.”
52So he told them, “Every student of the Scriptures who becomes a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like someone who brings out new and old treasures from the storeroom.”
The People of Nazareth Turn
(Mark 6.1-6; Luke 4.16-30)
53When Jesus had finished telling these stories, he left 54and went to his hometown. He taught in their synagogue, and the people were so amazed that they asked, “Where does he get all this wisdom and the power to work these miracles? 55Isn't he the son of the carpenter? Isn't Mary his mother, and aren't James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? 56Don't his sisters still live here in our town? How can he do all this?” 57 So the people were upset because of what he was doing.
But Jesus said, “Prophets are honored by everyone, except the people of their hometown and their own family.” 58And because the people did not have any faith, Jesus did not work many miracles there.
After Jesus’ arrest he was brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. As Pilate tried to determine the nature of the charges against Jesus, he asked him about the accusation that he was a king. Jesus answered, “My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world. If it did, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. No, my kingdom doesn’t belong to this world.” (John 18:36)
Jesus used the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” to refer to a new order of things introduced when he entered this world. It is a kingdom where love and peace and truth reign, a kingdom characterized by forgiveness and healing and relationship with God. Jesus showed us signs of it when he first entered our world, and we see glimpses of it now – but it will come in its fullness when Jesus returns a second time.
As Jesus uses parables to explain the kingdom of heaven, we learn several things:
- the kingdom of heaven does not exist only in a future sense – its reality has already begun,
- the kingdom of heaven will grow, and its influence will expand,
- to secure citizenship in the kingdom of heaven is worth any price, any sacrifice,
- some who appear to be citizens of this kingdom will, in the end, be separated from those who truly are.
The passage closes with a sombre note. Jesus’ wisdom and miraculous powers will have no effect on a stubborn heart. Jesus own family took offense to the same teachings that blessed others.
King of kings and Lord of lords, thank you for the privilege of being a citizen in your kingdom. Help me to be a good ambassador, that others may be drawn to you. In your precious name I pray. Amen.