O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
The Parable of the Patient Farmer
The Parable of the Patient Farmer
Based on Mt. 13:24-30, 36-43
Preached on July 20, 2014
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Fellow baptized saints, do you consider yourself a patient person? Do you know how to wait? What is the longest youíve ever waited for something, like set your mind to something, committed to see it through, and just waited? What about when you are provoked? How does your patience fare when someone is picking at you, when theyíre trying to get under your skin?
Patience has become something of an unicorn these days, hasnít it? Our minds have been fashioned by convenience stores, credit cards and drive-thru restaurants. Donít deny yourself. Never deny yourself. You should get it now. We are constantly chasing after faster service, faster devices and faster communication. We are obsessed with reducing our wait time Ė and by it we have made ourselves impatient. We have taught ourselves not to tolerate delays. To sigh and roll our eyes at the smallest inefficiency. To fill the airwaves with all the ways our plans have been held up by this or that. Patience is no longer a virtue. Itís a sign of weakness.
I have to tell you. I was in the grocery store the other day, and I was actually disappointed that they didnít have Paypass for my credit card. You know the tap feature. Can you believe that? No, I canít take the three seconds to swipe my card and sign. No, I donít want to insert my chip and press four buttons. I just want to tap my card and race out of the store. I just want to mash my plastic rectangle on your machine like a Neanderthal and run away with my bananas.
Now this may paint a pitiful picture of life in the 21st century, but by the sounds of our Gospel lesson, things werenít really all that different back in Jesusí day. Mankind is not known for its patience, so there is no surprise that the parable our Lord speaks today brings a lot of furrowed brows and confused looks. In fact, the moment the disciples are alone with Jesus they ask Him what it means Ė because honestly Ė what kind of master farmer waits until the harvest to pull up the weeds?
Now before we get ahead of ourselves, there is a certain type of weed found in that area of the world that Jesus is likely referring to. Itís called bearded darnel, and in its early stages of growth Ė it looks exactly like wheat. In fact, it is extremely difficult to distinguish bearded darnel from wheat until it is nearly fully grown. It is an imposter. A counterfeit. It passes as wheat because it looks the same on the outside.
This, Christ says, is the way His Church is. There is wheat, and there are weeds. There are those who hear His promise and believe it alone for their salvation, and there are those who look like a believer on the outside but do not believe in Christ alone in their hearts. But you canít tell the difference. In fact, youíre not supposed to, He says. The One who sees hearts knows, and He is patiently trying to change those weedy hearts into wheat Ė not point them out to us so we can hold our own personal court for them. Let us not fix our eyes on hidden things, but on what God has chosen to reveal Ė His Son. His cross. This is the way my Church is, Jesus says, you donít need to change it.
But we are impatient, arenít we? We want glory now. We arenít willing to suffer falsehood. We cannot wait for Godís timing, because we think we have better timing. We think we know what is needed Ė that we understand good and evil, wheat and weeds. But this was the problem from the beginning. This was the fall. Adam thought he knew better than God. That he should be the one to determine good and evil. Oh, how quickly we return to the forbidden fruit! Oh, how predictable the children of Adam really are!
Yet, God is patient. With Adam and with you. He is willing to wait a long time Ė years even to teach you and guide you. He waited for the appointed time to send His Son in our flesh. His Son suffered falsehood and abandoned His glory for the cross because that was His Fatherís will. He even waited three days in death before His glorious resurrection. Why? For you. For you. Because He made Himself the patience you lack. He waited and suffered for you. He trusted where you did not. And He waits for you now. For true love waits. It waits to the bitter end.
No, donít pull up the weeds. They need to hear it again before harvest.
Godís patience here gives His Church an incredible example to follow. For all of us are sinners. Should we be offended by people in our congregation, you know, hurt by the way we are treated - we are not to create conflict or leave. We are not to pull up the weeds. Certainly we make all efforts to reconcile, but for the sake of the Church, for the sake of those with faith, we are to patiently endure. We donít base our faith on the words and actions of the people who call themselves Christians around us Ė we base our faith on Godís Word Ė His revealed truth Ė and we pray that all others would do the same.
But this is hard, isnít it? Trying to grow in the weeds. The world is all around you Ė crowding in - stealing away the sunlight. It is doing everything it can to distract you from the reality of Christ Ė doing everything it can to make you downplay your faith Ė to put it second, or third or last Ė to get weedy Ė But here is Godís promise Ė This will only happen for a season Ė for at the close of the age the Son of Man will deal with all causes of sin and all law-breakers. They will be burned, burned so their seeds donít spread and cause more damage. But you - you who cling to Christ alone - will shine like the sun in the kingdom of your Father. All of this suffering will be worth it. All of the trials and the struggles of the faith will pay off Ė an eternity of times over.
Because this is your confidence. Godís patience. His long-suffering to save you. His willingness to remain faithful to you, even in death. Do you hear His promise? Christ has planted you. You are His precious wheat. He knows what He will do with you. He knows the time to harvest you, the time to gather you into His barn. And you will shine like the sun in the kingdom of His Father.
Yes, you are working on being patient, but Christ was patient for you. Because of Him, God credits you as being eternally patient. So when your enemy sows weeds in your field you have no need to rip them out. Merely turn again to Christ and believe. In Him you are completely forgiven and you will endure to the harvest. In Jesusí name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr