I. Establish the text
A. Select the Pericope: Matthew 13:24-30 & 36-43
C. Other texts for Year A, Sunday, July 17th in Ordinary Time
D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?
24 Is the kingdom like or contrasted to?
Need to be careful not to compare the kingdom to the sower but to the patience of the master to wait until the fullness of time for the harvest and to allow the weeds to grow among the wheat lest any of the wheat be harmed.
25 The enemy comes when we least expect it.
26 The actions of the enemy are not immediately apparent but only appear later.
27 And the believers asked him, “Why do bad things happen? Why is there evil in the world that you created? The world was good when you created it. What happened?”
28 “AN enemy?” Is there more than the devil?
29 Would we be able to pull a few weeds without hurting the wheat? Which are the weeds and which are the wheat? Would human’s know the difference?
30 Karl Barth perceived that at the eschaton humans would be split in two separating their evil from their good.
37 The Son of Man is the Word of God made flesh among men.
38 I fear use of this passage to demonize some people, children of God through Adam, rather than demonizing the schemes the evil one versus the will of God.
39 It is important to recognize that we are not the reapers.
40 This is the smelting in the refiner’s fire of the people for service in the Kingdom in the age to come.
E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?
- Skips over the parable of the mustard seed and of the yeast which affects all of the flour that it is mixed into. These parables speak to the pervasiveness of the Kingdom of God.
- This parable (and its explanation) lie within a series of parables about the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Two parables lie between the parable of the tares and its explanation. Both of these (mustard seed and yeast) tell how the Kingdom of Heaven grows from an imperceptible start.
III. Question the text.
C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?
- Our task is not to separate the weeds from the wheat, that is the task of angels.
- Our task is to nurture the wheat.
- God would rather have weak wheat than lose even one plant.
D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.
- Allowing the weeds to grow alongside the wheat will have an adverse impact on the wheat, but pulling the weeds prematurely will rip up some of the wheat.
IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?
M. Eugene Boring (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Matthew”) comments that “Christians are the result of the ‘sowing’ of the Son of Man. Unbelievers and opponents are the result of the activity of Satan.”
V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?
Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond
A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?
- I have yet to meet anyone who might be wholly good or fully evil. Instead people are a combination of the sin and righteousness, good and evil. Thus prematurely removing the “tares” (sin/evil) would damage who we are as human beings. Could that which God collects and burns at the end of the age is the sin/evil in each person, leaving only the righteousness in each person to “shine like the sun”?
B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.
- God alone is responsible for collecting and removing “the causes of sin and all evildoers.”
C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?
- Look for what God is doing in each person we meet and help that facet of him/her grow.