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Tavern Talk #57 - Wheat or Weeds?

Jesus told a parable about servants who reported to the landowner that weeds were growing among his wheat.[i] The landowner said that an enemy must have planted them there. The servants asked if they should pull the weeds. The landowner said, “No, you’ll pull up the wheat too. Let it grow until harvest time and I’ll have the harvesters pull them all, separate the wheat from the weeds, burn the weeds, and put the wheat in the barn.”

Like I often find myself (a lost ball in high weeds), the disciples asked what this meant. Jesus explained that he planted the good seed. The field is the world. The evil one plants the bad seeds (the weeds). The angels are the harvesters. The harvest is the end times.

Yikes. This is scary. But it need not be. It should be reassuring. Let’s peel it back.


There is evil and there are and will always be weeds in our lives. We will spend our lives here amongst the weeds. That’s the bad news. Or is it? If we are loving our neighbor as we should, we’re loving the plant next to us, whether it is wheat or weed. And, as we’ll see, how do we know?

The Wheat

We are the wheat. If you wonder whether you are wheat or weed, you are wheat. You may not have always felt like wheat or acted like wheat, but if you want to be wheat then you are. You see, wheat and weeds look awfully similar as they grow. They are hard to tell apart.

It’s Not Our Job to Pull the Weeds

While we are the wheat in one pass at this parable, we are also the servants. Those who have chosen to follow Jesus unquestionably have a desire to serve God. But it’s not our job to pull the weeds. Why? We’ll get it wrong. We’ll pull the wheat with the weeds. It’s not our job to judge others. It’s not our job to decide who is wheat and who is weed. It’s not our job to define the wheat or the weed by its appearance or conduct.

Not Every Wheat Seed Makes It to Harvest

Seeds and immature plants need nourishment, sunlight, water, and fertilizer. Weeds prevent wheat from reaching its maturity. Not all wheat will. Some of it falls prey to the power of the weed.

Like it or Not, There Will Be a Day of Reckoning.

There is no avoiding it. You cannot interpret that reality out of this parable. While we don’t talk about it much these days, focusing instead on the positive messages with the Good News, there is not Good News without this reality.

The Good News is that, by God’s grace, we are wheat! We did nothing to deserve it. And the reality is that we do not know who isn’t. And that is not our concern.

[i] Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

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