Sermon for Pentecost 8 – 7.23.23

+ 8th Sunday after Pentecost – July 23rd, 2023 +

Series A: Isaiah 44:6-8; Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“We Know How It Ends”

 

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior + Jesus Christ. Amen.

I was talking with someone recently about reading books, and the man I was talking to said, “I like to read the ending first, that way I know if I want to read the rest of the story or not.”

You might prefer to read your books spoiler free, but there’s some wisdom in this fellow’s reading habit. When you know how a story ends, it changes how you see the rest of story.

God gives us spoiler alerts in Scripture all the time. Remember Genesis 3:15. In the midst of the fall of sin, Adam and Eve’s punishment, and curses, God delivers a promise. He tells us the end of the story. When you read the rest of Scripture, you read the story of salvation with this promise in mind, that Jesus, the Seed of the woman was born and crushed the serpent’s head in his crucifixion.

When you know how a story ends, it changes how you see the rest of story. This is also a good way of reading the parable of the weeds. Jesus’ parable calls our attention forward to the End, to his second coming in glory. Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.

That’s End Times language. Jesus draws our ears forward to the Last Day. We long for this day. Pray for this day. Paul says, that with creation, we groan eagerly awaiting the new creation and the redemption that comes in the resurrection of the body. We hear this parable where wheat and weeds are mixed and we long for the day when God will separate those who are declared righteous in Christ from everything and everyone who has rejected Christ’s righteousness. Come, Lord Jesus! Send your angels. Gather the harvest into your barn. Set right what is wrong once and for all.

Knowing this is how Jesus ends the parable changes how we see the rest of the story. So, let’s go back to the beginning and see how that works.

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.

As parables go, this one is fairly straight forward. Like he did in the parable of the sower, Jesus gives us the interpretation. “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.

Still, there’s a tension in this parable, between the now and the not yet, between the present wicked weeds in the field near the good seed and the future harvest of that good seed and destruction of the weeds. When Jesus tells the crowds the focus is on the field and the weeds that have grown up next to the wheat. ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds? Of course he sowed good seed. He’s the Son of Man, he only sows good seed. He gives and creates life and faith.

An enemy hath done this. Our Lord creates. The devil destroys. The Lord wants only to be gracious and merciful. The devil wants only chaos and death. Jesus sows good seed. The devil sows weeds.

 

For the crowds…the concern is on the ‘now’ part of the ‘now’ and ‘not yet.’ We get that don’t we. The devil is planting his poison now. Sin and death surround us now. We see wicked weeds growing all around us, and within us. And like the servants in the parable, we want our Master, Jesus, to do something about it. ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them? Ever wondered that? Why doesn’t God just do what he did in the flood, and wipe it all out again? Why doesn’t he go scorched earth and blow torch all the weeds?

Rest assured, our Lord knows what it’s like to live surrounded by wicked weeds. This parable is about his life and ministry too. He is the kingdom of God in the flesh. Our Lord knows about all the weeds, and has done something about it. And promises to do more. But in the meantime, he reveals his compassion.

This is where the end of the story helps us see the whole thing more clearly. The sower doesn’t pull the weeds, not yet…lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Because the sower cares for his wheat – because the Son of Man cares for you and all who believe in him – he does not uproot all the world’s evil and wickedness. Not only that, notice that the job of the final separation of wheat and weeds – of the righteous from those who have rejected Jesus’ righteousness – that job isn’t ours. That’s for the time of “not yet.”

Does that mean we ignore sin? No. We live as faithful wheat of the Sower. We speak out against evil and wickedness in the world, and in our own sinful flesh. We call the world to repentance and forgiveness, and as we live in repentance and forgiveness. We live by the grace of Jesus the Sower, because we know the end of the story, the coming salvation, the “not yet” of the Last Day.

How then do we live in the “now” of this life? Jesus answers that as he explains his parable to his disciples. Jesus shifts the focus of the parable from “the now” of the weeds” to the “not yet” when the wicked weeds are destroyed.

You see, the Lord does not let sin, death, and the devil reign without consequence forever. A time is coming when this world will come to a close. The Lord’s angels will separate the wheat from the weeds, the faithful from the sinful, and there will be consequences. “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

Despite all the silly cartoon depictions, Scripture teaches us that Hell is real, as much as we may not like it. But remember, our Lord has no desire to send anyone there. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, not for humanity. And yet, Scripture clearly teaches us, if one persistently refuses faith unto the point of death, the Lord will give them what they want.

But do not fear. You know the end of the story. Jesus Christ has taken all your sins away. Jesus gave his life to save you from destruction. Here in the now of this life, we live in patience and trust in Jesus the Sower. We know the end of the story. Our Lord Jesus endured the weeds. He wore the crown of thorns on his head. He withstood the torments of the evil one. And by the sons of the evil one was nailed to the cross. Jesus fell into the ground and died. He was planted in the tomb. He rose from the dead and produced a harvest greater than we could possibly imagine. He has paid for our sin. He has covered our shame. He has given us a place in His kingdom which has no end.

And if that weren’t enough, He continues to call, gather, tend and nourish you, his precious wheat. Jesus gives you free forgiveness, life, and salvation. He cares for you, even when the weeds grow around you. He is patient and kind. And when Jesus returns, he will gather you, his into his barn, where the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. 

Until that day, we know how this story ends, and it changes how we see everything.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977