Gospel of Matthew 13: 24-30 (NIV)
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘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.’”
This parable, and the explanation which Jesus provided only to his disciples (verses 36-43), can disturb us – not least because it is evident that, “at the end of the age”, not everyone is going to be saved. Are we right to be disturbed? After all, do we not read in the Second Letter of Peter, “The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”?
No doubt the Lord does want everyone to come to repentance but, in allowing us all free will, is not the Lord also accepting of the fact that many of the “sons of the evil one” (Matthew 13: 38) will remain hostile to the Son of Man who has sown the good seed?
This parable, among seven which are included in the same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, gives glimpses of the kingdom of heaven. From this parable we can derive a warning about the spiritual battle that continues around us, inevitably includes us and demands of us a role.
The devil (in Jesus’ words, verse 39a) has sown the weeds, the “sons of the evil one”, and those who are “good seed”, people of the kingdom of heaven, are required to continue their lives even as they are surrounded by evil. I suggest that, if you are not conscious of the evil that is through all strands of our society, if you are complacently unaware of what is the devil’s work, then perhaps you have not encountered the kingdom of heaven either!
We may be concerned at the inroads that the devil seems to make continuously into the lives of ordinary children, women and men. We should not be surprised. We should not consider any part of the world immune from his devious and deceitful ways. We ourselves are vulnerable to temptations that are not of our Lord and we need to be alert, wise and ever on guard.
The battle is spiritual and I doubt anybody, unassisted, could stand against the evil one. We must remain close to our Lord – close through prayer and close through the continuing reading of and meditating on the word of God as recorded in the Christian Bible.
Jesus warned his disciples of the devil’s angling for them: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat” (Luke 22: 31). Jesus prayed for Simon Peter that his faith may not fail. Prayer is essential; prayer is the only weapon we are able effectively to deploy in this battle. Heed the words of the Apostle Paul: “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5: 17).