Beware of Infiltration and Imitation – Matthew 13: 24-40

We all have virus and malware pre-installed on our phones and computers and we must constantly be aware of all kinds of scams and phishing, but now there is a new threat in Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has taken phone scams to a frightening new level.

An Arizona mom claims that scammers used AI to clone her daughter’s voice so they could demand a $1 million ransom from her as part of a terrifying new voice scheme.

“I never doubted for one second it was her,” distraught mother Jennifer DeStefano told WKYT while recalling the bone-chilling incident. “That’s the freaky part that really got me to my core.”

This bombshell comes amid a rise in “caller-ID spoofing” schemes, in which scammers claim they’ve taken the recipient’s relative hostage and will harm them if they aren’t paid a specified amount of money.

Jesus parable today deals with impersonation and infiltration designed by the enemy to distract, distort and destroy. The good news about this “Parable of the Weeds” is we don’t have to speculate about the meaning, the Lord gives us a full interpretation.

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells seven classic parables about the Kingdom of heaven. Last week we looked at the parable of the Sower, which also is recorded in Mark and Luke. Today we’re going to examine the parable of the “Wheat and Weeds,” which appears only in Matthew. This is an amazing parable because it encompasses God’s work of redemption from the beginning of time until the end of time. Several times in scripture the end of time is compared to a harvest.

Whenever you study a parable of Jesus, there is always the natural truth of the story itself, and then there is the supernatural layer of meaning below the surface. There are questions the disciples asks and even questions the “workers” or angels asked.    We’ll call them…

Burning Questions

  1. What is the Cause of Evil?

This is really one of those basic questions of life which has numerous variations – “If I’ve done all the right things why did my kids still turn out wrong?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“If I take care of my garden so well how come I keep getting weeds? If God is in charge, why do bad things happen?”

“If Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose victoriously over death – why do people still sin and die?”

“Why are there still grumpy people in the church?”

“Why are my neighbors inconsiderate when I go out of my way to be kind?”

“Why? Why? Why?”

What is the cause of evil?  Jesus says,  “‘An enemy did this”  (vs. 28a)

“The enemy who sows them is the devil.” Matthew 13:39

After a thousand volumes are written on the origin of evil, we know as much of it as Christ has told us here, “An enemy has done it, and this enemy is the devil.”

 Why does God allow evil on earth?

 God created us with a free will.  Love allows choices.  Turn from evil and do good” Psalm 37:27

 Why doesn’t God remove all evil?

‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.” (vs. 29) 

 Because the wheat and the weeds are almost indistinguishable, they look alike!
We are a mixture of wheat and weeds.   “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor classes, nor between political parties… but right through every human heart and through all human hearts” Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 If God started controlling things- we’d be the first to complain ‘hey, I thought you gave me free will!’  God comes back and starts wiping out murderers, rapists.. (fine by me!)… adulterers… ok, those who don’t handle anger rightly, who lust, or gossip,  woops! We all start sweating! None of us would stand a chance!

If God removed evil I would have been gone a long time ago.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”  Psalm 51:5

Jesus is saying to us – “Hey, I don’t want you to be discouraged and to think that the dismal state of the world (or the church) is the final word. Don’t be troubled. You trust God now trust in me. I’m in charge – really I am. I may not be working this thing out the way you want it, in your preferred time frame. But my kingdom is coming into power. Its already up and functioning in some places – in the hearts and lives of some people. And on harvest day when I’m done implementing my plan all of the loose ends will be wrapped up. You won’t have to put up with this nonsense any longer.

  1. What is My Response to Evil?

 It is natural to want to do something about evil.

          ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ (vs. 28b)

 Jesus doesn’t want us to be discouraged but to be aware.

          The kingdom of heaven is like…(vs. 24)

Of course, this isn’t really a lesson in agricultural practice. It’s about the kingdom or reign or rule of God.

The Jewish people of Jesus’ day were anxiously awaiting the coming kingdom of God – that which the prophets had predicted – the time of the Messiah – the reestablishment of Jewish independence and power.

This, at least according to their thinking, would mean purifying the land of all foreign influences. And everyone was trying to figure out the best way to make this happen.

The Essenes were trying to bring the kingdom about by living purified lives out in the desert. If they could avoid all impurity they figured that they could become the pure starting point for a new Israel.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, thought that they could bring in the kingdom with an organized and structured revival of Jewish practices.

The Zealots were trying to bring about the kingdom through revolutionary and guerillas tactics directed at the occupying Roman forces.

They were all pretty much shooting for the same thing – the coming of the kingdom of God or heaven.

So Jesus comes along and starts talking about the arrival of this kingdom – which got everyone all excited. “We’ll be freed from the Roman yoke. Once again Israel will be the light on a hill.”

But leave it to Jesus to throw a monkey wrench into their plan or perception. He tells them; indeed the kingdom is coming into power but not exactly in the way that you’re expecting. We’re going to be stuck with a few weeds for a while.   Like them we can respond to evil in an inappropriate way.

I can respond to evil in one of four ways.  I can be a …

  1. Separatist  – in Jesus day the Essenes

In the middle ages it was the monastic movement to start monasteries to separate from society. You may have heard of this term because it described a movement in European Christianity and continues to this day. They are putting our head in the sand like Ostriches is how I think of it.  “See no evil hear no evil.”  We have given up and decided we have no power, no influence.  When Jesus says we do.

 2. Puritan – in Jesus’ day the Pharisees

Trying to maintain a religious purity no matter the cost. You have heard of this term because it was another middle age and European Church movement that many still try to emulate today.  In Salem the Puritans burned suspected witches — to maintain a pure society. In the Spanish Inquisition people who disagreed with the official teaching of the church were tortured. Husbands have beaten their wives to teach them submission – so they could have model godly families.  Others have embraced such strong religious views that they cut off all ties with their children because they disagree with some of their lifestyle decisions.  We knew a family that their daughter didn’t marry a catholic so they disowned her and wouldn’t talk to her or their grandchildren for over ten years.  They got a divorce and they welcomed them back with open arms.  A friend of mine from college her dad, split a church over what translation of the Bible was the best and began a new church.  When she got married she married someone who didn’t share his views and the dad didn’t go to the wedding and now ten years later has not spoken to them.  Is this kind of behavior the answer?  NO!

Every time we try to use worldly influence, religion or power or scheming to get God’s work done we end up doing more damage to his kingdom.

3. Militant – in Jesus’ day the Zealots

When the puritan methods aren’t working fast enough some Christians become militant.  We see the same thing in some contemporary political movements. “Once we organize and get rid of the hated godless pornographic homosexual media-driven infestation which is menacing our nation we’ll become the nation of God once again.”

And once people begin to think this way it’s not too much of a leap before they’ll take up arms against abortionists or homosexuals or whoever the current sinner happens to be. But hear Jesus, we’re stuck with weeds until harvest time.

4. Realist

We’ve got to be realists! We are not going to eliminate evil from the world and we ought not to act as though that were the case.

Every group or individual that takes on themselves the mission of bringing in the kingdom of God in political or strong-armed or religious or rule infested ways ends up really warped with an inflated view of self-importance. Ironically, they begin acting in ways that are completely contrary to the kingdom of God.

Which am I?

 By the way these are also models of churches today.   Many churches in America today are a puritan model, they try to gather a pure church according to their definition of that with followers who follow their prescribed tenants.    We try to be realists.   Let me share with you our realist model.  We allow people to be in process.  There are wheat and weeds together.  Together we grow, we are not perfect we allow people to be who they are but we also provide opportunities for the wheat to grow.

Those who want to grow, take advantage of the opportunities.    Those who want to be held accountable are held accountable by their decision only.  They decide to become a member, they decide to serve, they decide to lead.  We don’t hold those accountable who do not wish to.

 What is My Responsibility?  

 Evil will not stop my spiritual growth

           Let both grow together until the harvest. (vs. 30a)

 As a believer, I am the good seed.  My responsibility is growth and reproduction.

 “The wheat sprouted and formed heads”  (vs. 26)

As wheat is profitable for bread, food, and seed, it has purpose. God’s children have purpose and are useful for God.  Is your life bearing fruit?  What are you doing in God’s field?   Are you spending your energy growing and reaching others?  Or are on some witch hunt or some gossip campaign or puritan endeavor or inquisition?   No growing and reaching others.  It works!

There have been wonderful examples of those who have been changed when we thought they had no hope:   Alice Cooper, Korn guitarist,
But the question asked by many is, “What happens to these evil people when they become good?”  The same thing that happens to you and me. They are forgiven and become new creation.

My greatest weapon against evil is transformation.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

God is in the business of transforming lives.  He changes us and recreates us.  He takes the evil and makes it good, the wrong and makes it righteous.

God can take this Johnson grass plant (a nasty weed) and transform it into a corn plant that is useful and provides food.  It’s not magic it’s a miracle! It’s a spiritual truth! God is in the life changing business.   He has called us to do the same.  We are to take every ounce of our energy and reach others with this truth.  Look at this.

 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

 He has given us the ministry of reconciliation (bringing people to Christ) not the ministry of grumbling, Ministry of complaining, or ministry of judging, the ministry of do nothing.

If you have never become a Christian today is the day Christ can plant a seed in your heart, it will begin to grow and will transform your life.  If you are a believer let me ask you:  are you growing?  Are you seeing a change?  And lastly, whose life can you plant the seed of the gospel?  Which co-worker, family member can you give a bible to, invite to church or pray for?



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About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
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