Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Big Plant (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-42)

I'm still pretty new at this church so I don't think I'll preach it this way. Oh well.

I was sitting in my office on a dead-end street in Jerusalem trying not to think about the metaphor. I’d bought myself a drink to get my mind off it, but it seems I’m not much of a conversationalist.

She walked in, like they always do. If I’d been a rabbi I might have dropped my Talmud, but I wasn’t so I didn't. “You’re not interrupting,” I told her. She gave me a blank look. I was used to those.

It was even money whether she was in trouble or wanted to start some. Turns out it was the former, at least for now. No telling what might turn up later. The guy she worked for owned this wheat field, and a few weeks ago he’d sown some wheat seed in it. I guess that’s what you do when you have a field and some seed – me, I was more interested in what vintners did than farmers.

Now the wheat was beginning to show up, but it wasn’t alone. Right in the middle, mixed in with all the good stuff, were weeds. Tares, we sometimes call them. She and the outfit she worked for wanted to know where they’d come from and who might be behind it all. So she’d come to me with her question, which sooner or later a lot of people do here in Big J. For a denarius a day plus expenses, I'm the guy who finds the answers.

Since my appointments with the king and C├Žsar had fallen through, my day was open. I went with her to the field, where her boss and some of his crew were gathered. I looked at the field. Someone showed me which ones were the wheat and which ones were the tares. It was a good thing they did, because I’m a city boy and green on one end, dirty on the other is the extent of my horticultural knowledge.

I got the story about what happened when they’d done their planting. The boss was no slouch – once he’d planted his seed, he had some guys stand guard and watch the field. Wasn’t his fault they weren’t smart enough to watch a movie.

I quizzed him. “Any enemies?”

“Probably,” he said.

“They do something like this”?

“Probably did,” he said. He was less of a talker than I was, but that pretty much solved the case. Didn’t seem like it was worth a denarius, but he didn’t ask for it back and I didn’t offer. Made the dame who’d hired me happy too. I liked making dames happy, especially since I usually only managed to do that by leaving.

My job was over, but I thought I’d stick around to see how things turned now. Maybe I’d make the dame happy again. The chief flunky spoke up in a sincere effort to keep the job he’d just been shown to have fallen down on.

“Master, since an enemy has done this, do you want us to dig out all the weeds?”

Like I said, I was no farmboy, but even I knew this was a bad idea. The wheat and the weeds were too close together. Tear out one and risk ripping up the other. The boss would take a significant hit in the wallet, and I’ve never met a boss who likes that. I caught his look and raised an eyebrow. He rolled his eyes back at me.

“No,” he said, and explained what I’d just thought of. “We’ll wait until harvest and sort them all out then. We can store the wheat and burn up whatever weeds are left.” He looked at me again and I understood the meaning behind his words.

He wasn’t an ordinary guy, this boss. Sure, he’d run his field like any other farmer would and take care of his wheat. The workers would till around it and make sure it got watered and fertilized. And when the harvest time came, he’d do just like he said and have them separate the wheat from the weeds.

But I’d heard everything he’d said, including that last phrase: “whatever weeds are left.” He didn’t just intend to take care of his wheat. He counted on being able to work on the weeds themselves. By the time he was done with them, he counted on them being transformed – they wouldn’t be weeds anymore. They’d be wheat.

I nodded once at the dame and walked away, headed back towards my office. I knew the real reason the boss wanted to wait wasn’t just because he was worried about his wheat. He was worried about the weeds too, and he wanted the time to work his transformation mojo on them. Weeds into wheat? Why not?

Even gave me some hope for me.

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