Today we read two of Jesus’ famous parables, the Weeds among the Wheat and the parable of the Mustard seed. Both parables have to do with the nature of the kingdom of God.
Jesus explains what the parable of the weeds among the wheat means. He says,
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.
So the good seeds / wheat are faithful disciples of Jesus. Whereas the bad seed / weed are “sons of the evil one”. The first essential point to recognize is that the weeds grow up AMONG the wheat. In other words, WE SHOULD EXPECT to find sinners among us. And not just sinners, we are all sinners, but sinners who are not truly repentant, sinners that remain in their sin. What does Jesus say we should do about this? Should we pull the weeds, separate them and throw them out? No. Does the wheat get up and get planted in a different field? No. Jesus says that His angels will separate the weeds from the wheat at the end of days. So we should expect the weeds to be among us and therefore finding them there should not be a surprise to us. It follows then that finding out that there are weeds among the wheat is not an excuse to separate oneself from the kingdom. There will be bad churchmen. There will be spectacularly bad churchmen! There will be bad Popes, bad bishops and bad priests but one does not leave Jesus because a Judas is found among the Apostles. Some people claim that the Church that Jesus founded became corrupt. Most can’t articulate exactly when this was or what was the specific event, or doctrine or person. But even if they can pick one alleged corrupt event out of 2,000 years of history so what? Jesus says we should not be surprised that there are weeds among the wheat. And if we should not be surprised that means we should expect corruption to happen. But Jesus says that He will settle that at the end of days. We for our part, do not settle that with rebellion and schism. Paul says, ‘can the foot say to the head, I have no need of you”. The body cannot be broken apart. If the foot separates from the body it dies.
The parable of the mustard seed has a similar message. I encourage everyone to google images of mustard seeds and mustard trees. A mustard seed is tiny. It looks like a tiny round sprinkles one might shake out onto cupcakes. But when it grows it becomes this sprawling bush like tree. It easily grows 8 to 10 feet high. It has branches that brush the ground and it grows sideways as well as up. A man could easily walk into it and hide. Jesus says the kingdom of God is like this tree. In other words, it will look nothing like what you would expect from the seed. The seed is small, simple and contained. The tree is large, complex and sprawling. While we are here on earth the Kingdom that Jesus speaks of is, in one sense, the Church he founded. Paul says, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” So if the Church that Jesus founded is the “fullness of him” that means that no other church can add to the body. And in fact, the Church looks very much like the mustard tree. It too is large, complex and sprawling over the entire world.
It is also, vitally important to consider the reverse. If the Church that Paul speaks of is the fullness of the body, it follows that no other church can add to the body, then IT ALSO FOLLOWS that another church can only be established by removing something from the body. By trying to cut out the weeds from among the wheat or by trying to plant a new mustard tree, in a new place. This is exactly what happens with every denomination. The Jehovah witnesses establish themselves by saying Jesus is not God, but the Archangel Michael – a creature, something less than God. The Mormons says that Jesus is God, but one of many men that are raised up to be one of many Gods of many universes. Baptists say that baptism is most important – you don’t need the rest. Sola scritura – the idea that you only need the bible alone – denies tradition, which is firmly supported in scripture (“hold fast the traditions I have passed on to you”, says Paul). Sola fide – the idea that you are saved by faith alone – denies the merit of works (Jesus says, “if you love me you will keep my commandments” and just the other day “my brother and sisters are those that DO THE WILL of my Father”). The Calvinists deny free will. The Lutheran’s deny the need for the Pope and Bishops. Each and every protestantism is not a rediscovery of the true Gospel, it is, as the Bible tells us, a lessening, a cutting out of some part of “the fullness of him who is all in all.”