24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
“You’ve got to trust me.’
Who said those words to you? Was the surgeon or the anesthesiologist who put you under for surgery? Was it the adventure guide who was checking the connections before the bungee jump or the guy who packed your parachute? Was it a fireman who led you out of a burning building or the lifeguard who pulled you up from the depths? These are all rather dramatic examples. We are called upon to trust people every day, so often we probably do not even think about it. A check is a promise which we trust, or we would demand cold, hard cash. Even driving down a two-lane country highway involves trust. We trust that the person driving toward us at 60 miles per hour will not veer into our lane and kill us in a head-on collision. Even though we will pass within feet of one another at a combined speed of 120 miles per hour, we probably do not flinch. For that second, however, our lives are really in each other’s hands. We trust.
In this reading today, Jesus makes the great demand for trust. Why is there evil in the world? Why did my friend die so young? Why did my mom suffer? Why did the earthquake happen? Why do children starve? Why do people do evil things to one another? Those questions are all good questions, but beneath all of them lies another, unspoken question. Why is God not doing something about it? In this parable God sows good seed but an enemy sowed tares, a weed which looks surprisingly like wheat until it comes time to harvest. The workers ask the question. Why is this here? Did the master sow bad seed? The master answers that question. His creation is a good creation. The evil is the work of another. Then, shall we pull out all the evil? No, responds the master. The good and the evil too often look alike. You will pull out the good with the bad. We will sort it out at the end.
This parable is about as close as you get to the Biblical answer to the problem of evil. Jesus exhorts us to trust him. He knows it is there and he does not like it. For reasons which transcend our understanding, he does not act right now. No reasonable farmer would let the weeds grow in his field. He would rip them out even if it did cost him some wheat plants. But Jesus is not offering up farming advice. He is describing the way this Kingdom of God works. Evil will have its day of judgement. A great sorting will take place. Then the righteous, the ones whom Christ has redeemed, will be visible to all, shining like the stars.
“Trust me” Jesus says.