He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
Why can’t we leave judging to God? What is it in human nature, that is somehow heightened in Christian human nature, that has to judge? Jesus prohibited judging in his teaching. (Matthew 7:1-5) He was always in some conflict with the Scribes and Pharisees for their persistent judging of people and their attempt to control the minutiae of others’ lives. Yet if you were to ask most people who have been alienated from the Church what they found most difficult about Christians they would say, “Church people are SO judgemental”
I sometimes think that Christians are not merely trying to be “holier than thou”, they are trying to be “holier than Jesus!”. Granted, Jesus spoke about being perfect even as our Parent in heaven is perfect, but as a good Wesleyan I know that he was referring to be perfect in Love as God is perfect in Love. (More on that here)
Before holiness and perfection however, Jesus expected transformation in his hearers. He knew that hearing the good news of the unconditional acceptance of a parenting, providing, profligately generous God, has a way of transforming our natures as we discover that religion isn’t about rules, it is about relationships. This is a process. That is why Jesus uses organic images to describe the process of the Divine Domain (Kingdom of God) coming to fruition in the lives of people and their communities. He speaks in this Gospel passage of the Divine Domain operating as growing wheat amongst weeds; as yeast leavening dough; as a small mustard seed transforming into a tree big enough to host a colony of birds.
This process isn’t flawless nor is it conducted in clinically sanitised environments. Wheat grows in the presence of competing and threatening weeds, sourdough yeast is rotting old food material, and that little mustard seed could just as well have ended up as bird seed as a bird housing bush!
So Jesus condones weed. He acknowledges that for the life of God to be real it needs to live and grow in a real world. Nit picking weeding in a field of young wheat does more harm to the wheat than good. Nit picking Christians are as damaging.