God’s Enemy

He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’

“‘An enemy did this!’ he told them.

“‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him.

“‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’”

He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through all of it.” (Matthew 13:24–33)

Jesus gave his disciples three pictures of the kingdom of heaven. “Heaven” was used as a circumlocution for God. Matthew’s Jewish audience, out of fear of using God’s name in vain, was accustomed to using other words to represent God, rather than speaking of him directly.

First, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a field of wheat that was infested with weeds. Second, Jesus compared the kingdom to a mustard seed, that is tiny but becomes an enormous bush. And finally, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a bit of yeast that spread to fill fifty pounds of flour.

What does Jesus want us to understand then, about God’s kingdom? The kingdom of God is made up of human beings. And as we know from our own lives, not everything we do is always necessarily good. We remain less than perfect, even with the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We make mistakes. We make progress very slowly. Sometimes it may seem that nothing much has improved in our behavior for a very long while.

The kingdom of heaven grows and spreads both in our own lives and in the world around us. There may be opposition and problems along the way; but its growth is inevitable and unstoppable.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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