Matthew 13:24-30

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’

The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30

I haven’t said much about this but this month does recognize the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, dating back to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses bombshell. Frankly, I have very mixed feelings about whether or not this is a celebration or an observance. I lean far closer to observance. It is hard for me to celebrate Christian tribalism when that so easily invites “my team is better than your team” thinking to pollute the heart of our spirituality.

Having said that, even though it was a very mixed bag, there were many good things that came out of that period. The Roman Catholic church did reassess and address many of its practices. The Lutheran movement did refocus the church on being more people-centered rather than clergy-centered, lifted up the centrality of the Bible, and reframed many key theological insights. One of the most important of this is the doctrine we always refer to as simul ustus et peccator – that we are simultaneously both saint and sinner. And this is how it will be for us until the end of our lives.

Where did that idea come from? I prefer to believe it first came from personal reflection on how we actually experience our lives. The cyclical movement from death to life to death to life seems much more in line with our Christian journey than a linear progression of sanctification where we get better and better, holier and holier, as we age and grow. This is the heart of our understanding of the baptized life as returning again and again to the promises and presence of God. And it is much more in line with the life dynamics that the Apostle Paul speaks about in Romans 7.

I know that simul ustus et peccator describes my own life experience far better than singing a hymn like “Every Day With Jesus is Sweeter Than The Day Before.” Nothing against the song, love the tune, by the lyrics don’t really describe how the faith works in my life. We will probably never sing “The Hokey Pokey” in worship but it actually would better speak the truth as I know it.

And it would better speak the truth as reflected in the reading today from Matthew. This really is life – a mixed bag, two sides to every coin, weeds and wheat so closely intertwined that it is tough to tell where one ends and the other begins. Alfred Nobel (who, by the way, was a Lutheran, born on October 21, 1833), invented dynamite, believing its destructive force would bring an end to war. Let’s just say it didn’t work out that way. His story is really all of our stories. There’s a little sinner in every saint and a little saint in every sinner.

So what do we do? The best we can to do is the next right thing. To refrain from judging ourselves or others as wheat or weeds. To exercise the humility that teaches us that we might not be as right as we think we are. To stay coachable and open to God’s guidance. To seek the truth which sets us free. To follow God one day at a time.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, it feels like such a defeat for us to admit our inner limitations, our complicity with the sins of the world, our lack of attentiveness to doing what is right rather than merely settling for what is easy. Yet it is all true. And yet you continue to love us, to hold us, to grace us, to shape us. In you alone do we find peace, purpose that matters, and hope that you will sustain us to the end. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


2 Responses to “Matthew 13:24-30”

  1. oma500 Says:

    I totally agree about the observation instead of celebration for the 500th anniversary. We pat ourselves on the back too much as it is.
    Thank you again, for this devotional and your dedication.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Awesome message!

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