The One About the Wheat and the Weeds

What question has been asked for Jesus to answer with this parable? Perhaps the crowd was looking for an explanation of why the kingdom he was proclaiming did not fit their immediate expectations like:

*Romans vanquished
*John the Baptist thought it was to be judgment, but when that didn’t happen he sent messengers to ask: are you the coming one?
*Expectations that the messiah to purge Jerusalem of Gentiles to drive out sinners, to gather holy people and to be intolerant of unrighteousness


Leaving weeds in a garden way to run a farm, yet the (poisonous) weeds that Jesus is referring to is a weed that looks very much like wheat in its beginning stages; in fact, they were nearly indistinguishable. Jesus warns that the danger is that one may pull up the good by mistake. The surprise of the servants in the parable and the conclusion drawn by the master both give a clue at something not explicit in the parable: the number of weeds was far beyond normal. Yet the master instructs to let them be, to allow them to grow together. This is a little troubling. Ifthe good seeds represent God’s kingdom and his loyal subjects, and if the weeds symbolize evil and agents of evil what does it mean that Jesus uses as his example two plants that are nearly identical at first sight?


Wheat and week, good and evil, Kingdom and anti-kingdom grow simultaneously.

Yet the master’s words call us to keep steady:
-v30: “Let both grow together until the harvest.”

The word ‘let’ here finds its roots in the idea of permitting, suffering and forgiveness. In fact, it’s the very term that Jesus uses in his last words:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Forgive/let/permit/suffer both to grow together until harvest.


Does this parable teach passivity to sin? Not at all, Matthew squashes that all over his gospel. And in the parable’s interpretation, judgment is a very real reality – but perhaps that’s not the point of this whole story. Jesus was not overlooking Rome’s evil and atrocities  – the day for evil to be destroyed is on its way. But in the meantime, as good and evil grow side by side – for the sake of the kingdom – can we forgive?

Again, the parable isn’t about permissiveness of sin, God’s serious about sin, He’s not overlooking anything. And it’s not primarily about what’s going to happen at the end of the age. The parable of the wheat and the weeds is  about forgiving instead of avenging.

Not to worry…at the end it will become very obvious what’s a weed and what’s wheat. The weeds will be only their removal will have to wait until judgement day – but its not our job to make the separation.

Can we trust God to take care of everything in the end? Can we put to rest the impulse to pull the weeds? As we forgive others, essentially we’re letting ourselves off the hook…we no longer have to carry the hurt and pain…and the reminder to get even.

The kingdom of God?…
…its surrounded by evil, but its still at work.

The kingdom of God? It’s like that feeling…
…of wanting to pull weeds, but not, because you’ll likely do more damage than good and in the end, its not your job anyways.

The kingdom of God?…
…it will set wrongs to right, all in good time, but until then I will forgive.

“Evil can never create or build, only twist and destroy what already exists.  It uses human brilliance and creativity as well as folly and ignorance toward heinous ends.” (Debra Rienstra)

“…they would’ve caught the Holy Spirit’s exalted pun immediately: The malice, the evil, the sadness that is manifest in the real world and in the lives of real people is not to be dealt with by attacking or abolishing the things or persons in whom it dwells,  rather, it is to be dealt with only by an a letting be that is a forgiveness, that is a suffering – that is even a permission – all rolled into one.” (Robert Capon)