Adult Uniform Sunday School Lesson for June 10, 2018
To understand God’s redemptive justice and how we can enable others to experience it
Background: Matthew 13:24-43
Matthew 13:24-33 (CEB)
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field. 25 While people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared.
27“The servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds?’
28“ ‘An enemy has done this,’ he answered. “The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’
29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them.
30 Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvest time I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.” ’”
31He told another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. 32 It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”
33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough.”
Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvesttime I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30)
This the first of three lesson on parables taught by Jesus. So what is a “parable?” C. H. Dodd, a great New Testament scholar (1884–1973), once defined the parable form by saying, “At its simplest, the parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”
Jesus used parables because it was easy for the common agro society of His day to understand. Others also used parables, one of the most notable was the Prophet Nathan using a parable to awaken King David of his terrible sin. (2 Samuel 12:7)
The parable of the weeds is often referred to as the parable of the wheat and the tares. A tare is a destructive weed that looks similar to wheat in its early development. As Jesus often did, he set this parable in an agricultural situation. Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to someone going out to grow wheat.
Then something unusual happens. While everyone is asleep in the night, an enemy comes and plants weeds, or bad seed, among the good. The servants being dedicated went to the owner and ask if they should pull up the weeds. The owner has a better idea, let them grow together and later be separated at harvest time.
Let me interject a personal comment, today we hear a lot about the universalist belief that everybody gets into heaven. I think this parable taught by Jesus debunks that idea. It also answers the question about why the bad are successful. As Christians we are ask to wait till the end, for justice.
As for the other parables concerning the yeast and the mustard seed, again these also demands our patience. I think the church might be the object of these parables.
The church of Jesus Christ started in the smallest of fashion, One unique Son of God came and lived as a man, and from that, the church grew from one to twelve to one hundred and twenty to five thousand in fifty days. That is the miracle and mystery of our faith. Who would not want to share this amazing story?
My hymn for this week is “We’ve A Story to Tell to the Nations.”