Every summer when I was growing up, we spent the first weeks of our summer breaks from school in the cotton fields. With our hoes in hand, cloth gloves to protect our hands from blisters, a bonnet or hat to protect our heads from the sun and long sleeves to protect our arms, we started each day at the end of the field.  The rows of cotton lay like an endless green carpet before us…and our job was to find every weed and chop it down.

I was reminded of these days as I read in my Bible Jesus’ parable of the sower, found in Matthew 13.  He told how, as the man sowed his field, some of the seed fell by the wayside and birds came and ate them. Some fell in stony places where there was little soil so they had no root and the sun withered them.  Others fell among thorns that grew thick and choked them.  I remember seeing all such growth as we cleared the weeds, being careful not to damage the cotton that stood tall in the middles of each row.

After the parable Jesus explained to His disciples what the seed represented.  The ones that fell by the wayside were like people who hear the Word of God but don’t understand it. What little they do get is soon swept away by the wicked one (Satan).  The ones that grow in stony places are like the person who hears the Word but doesn’t immediately accept it, so feels no joy.  He endures for a while, but when troubles come or he is challenged for his beliefs, he becomes offended and falls away.  Those that grow among the thorns are the believers who let the cares of the world and what it offers choke the Word and they stop witnessing.  Those that fall on good ground are the ones that hear God’s word, understands it, and puts it into practice by loving, witnessing, setting an example, and bringing others to Jesus.

In verse 24, Jesus adds another parable and says: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while he slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat.  Then, when the crop grew and began to produce fruit, the weeds came up too.  The man’s servants asked if they should pull up the weeds, but he said, “No, while you pull the weeds you might root up the wheat with them.  Let them both grow together and when harvest comes, I’ll have the workers gather the weeds first, bind them in bundles and burn them, then gather the wheat into my barn.”

Many times, in the cotton fields, the weeds grew so close to the cotton that chopping them with a hoe and not damaging the cotton was impossible.  In that case, we laid down our hoes and pulled the weeds by hand…still sometimes a few cotton plants came up by their roots along with the weeds.

In verses 37-43, Jesus explains the meaning of this parable in simple terms:  He that sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the weeds are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  As the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and do iniquity; and cast them into a furnace of fire; there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Many churches today do not like to preach the truth found in this chapter of Matthew, but we cannot afford anymore sweet talk and promises of good times in our efforts to get people into the kingdom of heaven.  These truths and promises are directly from Jesus Himself and we need to pray that more among us with ears willing to hear will do so and accept Him.  The harvest is near, and we must go forth and sow the good seed of God’s Word, so that when it comes, none of us will be cast into the fire like weeds, but gathered into the kingdom our Father has prepared for those who love Him.



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