“Five Loaves | Two Fish”

Matthew 14:13-21

August 2, 2020

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Matthew 14:13-21

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”

And he said, “Bring them here to me.”

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


Context is everything.

Context tells us why Jesus withdrew;

Why Jesus sought to find a deserted place by himself.

When context is revealed

Deeper truths are exposed.

Insight to God’s Word, will, and ways is provided.

The rest is up to us.

At the conclusion of the prior (13th) chapter of Matthew

We heard Jesus was rejected by his own hometown,

By his own neighbors, friends, and family.

Their offense at him

Cut Jesus deep.

“Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house,” Jesus observed. (13:57)

Untangling the double negative,

Jesus is saying there is no honor from home or family.

Honor only comes to prophets doing the Lord’s work

Who leave the dysfunction of family offense and criticism,

Who dare to follow where the Lord is leading

To people and places beyond the known,

To places beyond the horizon.

Their offense at him

Cut Jesus deep.

The Gospel of Matthew reports

“He did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.” (13:58)

Get out of the nest,

The safety and security of the nest.

Get away from the doubt, criticism, and complaints

From blood relatives, neighbors, family friends, and fellow members of the synagogue.

They will tap you dry of all the power God has given you,

Just as they did to Jesus.

It was time to move on.

“Jesus withdrew to a deserted place by himself.” (14:13)

Being cut by his own,

Being hurt and abandoned by those who are expected to be closest and most supportive of him,

Speaks of Christ’s humanity,

Speaks of Christ’s intimate knowledge and understanding

Of our shared humanity, our families, and our tangled webs.

If families could only be perfect.

They aren’t.

There is no such thing as a perfect family.

A deserted place was needed for Jesus to sort it all out.

Create a vacuum and allow God to fill the void.

God’s voice is easier to be heard in the silence and solitude of a deserted place

Then in the context of conflict, criticism, and disbelief.

Where is your quiet place?

That place deserted,

Where you can be by yourself,

Where you can allow yourself to be emptied of the world’s troubles,

Where you can allow yourself to be filled by the Spirit and revived by the Spirit’s power?

Context is everything.

Familiar conflict and hometown doubt sapped his strength.

But, it isn’t the only thing that drives Jesus into the wilderness.

The Tetrarch, Herod Antipas,

Like an ancient ancestor of modern-day ISIS,

Beheaded John the Baptist.

Word of his murder spread at the speed of viral social media.

News sent Jesus fleeing

(probably for his life)

To the other side of the Sea of Galilee,

Beyond the limited rule of Herod.

Talk about a dysfunctional family.

Herod had it in spades.

Herod the Great,

Famed at the time of Jesus’ birth,

Had five wives.

Each wife had one or more children.

There were a lot of step-sons and step-daughters,

Half-brothers and half-sisters.

“Game of Thrones” scale

Adultery and perversion were the norm,

Not the exception,

In Herod’s family line.

Herod Antipas, Herod Philip, and Aristobulus

Were 3 of 9 half-brothers of their father, Herod the Great.

Three half-brothers drink deeply from the well of debauchery.

Aristobulus had a daughter, named Herodias.

His half-brother, Herod Philip, takes his daughter, Herodias, for his wife.

Yikes! Sick!

Herod Philip takes a dive into a shallow gene pool.

They have a daughter, named Salome.

Herod Philip and Herodias divorce.

Herod Antipas marries Herodias, his step-brother’s ex-wife,

Making Salome his teen-aged step-daughter.

Yikes! Disgusting!

Cultural offenses are just as terrible today

As they were 2,000 years ago in Herod’s family.

Herod Antipas was infatuated by Salome.

Salome had her step-father, Herod Antipas, wrapped around her little finger

In a sexually perverted, Jeffrey Epstein sort of way.

Yikes! It makes me sick!

Here is the seat of power,

The palace of the Tetrarch of Galilee.

Money is no object.

Food is abundant.

Sex and lust were a Covid like forest fire raging out of control.

Attendees were drawn to power, perversion, and corruption like moths to a light.

When lust is mixed with alcohol, bad things happen.

The result was the beheading of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, who had been held in prison.

“When Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” (14:13)

Context is everything.

Jesus rejected by his hometown and family,

Left powerless by their unbelief.

Jesus, hearing news of the beheading of his cousin, John the Baptist,

Sent by God to prepare his Messianic way,

Murdered in a drunken, glutton, orgy …

Yeah, Jesus needed to get a way to a safe, deserted place for some alone time.

He needed some time to grieve.

If only … alone time was meant to be.

Jesus may not have had the hearts and minds of

His family, hometown, or Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee,

But he does have the hearts and minds of the people.

The people draw out the compassion of Jesus.

The crowds who followed him from town to town

Restored his power to cure the sick.

The people make it possible

To miraculously change scarcity into abundance,

To teach by word and deed about the characteristic of God.

Context reveals the breadth and depth of Christ’s compassion.

Rejection and grief bring out Christ’s compassion.

Whether it be the rejection and grief of his own hometown and the death of John the Baptist, or,

The rejection and grief of his own Passion and death,

The grace of Jesus Christ plays out for the crowds overlooking the lake

Just as his grace played out on the cross and at the empty tomb

For the redemption and salvation of the world.

How does this apply to our lives today?

Consider the dark valleys you travel:

Family dysfunction.

Temptation and indiscretion.

Excess, gluttony, and greed.

Mourning, suffering, pain, and loss.

You’ve seen it.

I’ve seen it.

Life has some pretty deep, dark valleys,

Filled with shadows, snares, and death.

There is no greater compassion

Then Jesus dying for you.

No greater love than God helping you through

Suffering, pain, and loss.

The compassion of Jesus Christ

Reveals the deep love God has for the world.

The compassion we show to the world

Reveals the deep love we have for God and one another.

Compassion compels Jesus to act.

His compassion intersects with the world’s greatest need:

Sickness is healed,

Hungry bellies are filled, with plenty left over.

Ask yourself this:

How is it possible to be like Jesus,

To make myself a vessel of God’s compassion

To meet the needs of the world?

Weeds and chaff don’t do a thing.

They are worthy of fire.

Grains of the harvest are compelled with compassion to act,

To do the work of the Lord.

Context reveals the power of Jesus to cure the sick and return them to health.

Jesus cures many people of their illness, injury, or disease.


Miracles bring in the crowds

Like carnival barkers,

Like event organizers with an unlimited budget,

Like a winning team and an undefeated season.

Miracles pack the stadium and draws the crowds.

Gather the crowds.


Jesus gathers the crowds

To teach …

To call …

To transform the world into God’s kingdom.

Jesus gathers the crowds

Not only by the healing of one or two selected individuals,

But to demonstrate for all the world to see

God’s amazing grace and unlimited love.

The miracle of giving sight to the blind

Saves an individual from isolation and exclusion,

At the same time,

The miracle serves as a powerful message that

Christ brings light into a world filled with darkness.

The miracles of Jesus

Give testimony to God’s amazing grace and unlimited love.

The emotional, compassionate response of Jesus to the needy crowd,

Results in the miraculous actions of a loving and all-powerful God.

How does this apply to our lives today?

It is natural to attempt to explain miracles away,

Especially in our, enlightened (so we think), scientific age.

Avoid the urge.

Accept the miracles of Jesus at face value.

Believe by faith; and leave the apparent conflict with science up to God.

At the end of the day, I suspect

There is no conflict between faith and science,

Given the fact we have a common Creator.

Recognize the seen and unseen miracles of today,

Of healing, restoration, of cure,

Not as random acts of luck,

Or the predictable reaction of science,

But of God’s presence and active participation in your life and mine.

The accident I just avoided

Can be attributed to good quality, high tech, steel belted tires and

God’s merciful, loving, miracle to spare my life

And the life of the other driver.

My recovery from the plague, HIV, or covid-19

Can be attributed to good, peer reviewed science and

God’s mercy, love, and plan for me to live another day.

Make every miracle an opportunity to witness to

The amazing grace and unlimited love of God.

Context reveals the depravity of this world and the abundance of God’s kingdom.

Contrast the abundance and waste of Herod’s gluttonous, adulterous party

With the party Jesus throws out of compassion

For the crowd out in the wilderness.

Jesus starts with nearly nothing:

Five loaves. Three fish.

That’s all.

That’s it.

Gathered from five thousand people, plus women and children.

The God of Creation,

Fully human in the being of Jesus,

Takes nothing and turns it into something.

Jesus takes scarcity and miraculously turns it into abundance.

This is God’s way.

How does this apply to our lives today?

The way disciples of Jesus think and talk about money

Reveals much about our trust and faith in the Lord’s abundance.

All my life,

As a child and preacher’s kid, and

Throughout my 35 years of pastoral ministry

I’ve heard moaning and groaning, grumbling and complaining,

About insecurity and scarcity:

“We don’t have enough …

Money, volunteers, youth, or children.”

“We can’t ask people to do more, increase their pledges, to tithe, to grow the financial capacity of the church.”

Beloved friends, the stewardship capacity of every parish

Is deeply related to this Gospel passage

Of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish.

We see 5 loaves, 2 fish, and a hungry crowd.

We think we live in scarcity.

The tendency is to hoard and save for a rainy day.

The tendency is to cut expenses to the bone and complain when income takes a similar dive.

Jesus proves us otherwise.

5,000 fed, full, and satisfied members of the crowd,

Along with women and children

Testifies to the abundant environment and nature of God.

Gather the leftovers friends.

After everyone is fed, we can still return 12 baskets of food to Jesus.

The church thrives when we come to accept the abundance of God. 

It is easy to proclaim “Our God is an abundant God”

But it is hard to trust that it is true.

Rejection and grief

Led Jesus to a very dark valley filled with shadows and death.

Rejection and grief

Led Jesus to a very deserted place.

Sickness and a desire to be cured brought crowds of desperate people to him.

Compassion compelled Jesus to act.

Jesus healed the sick,

Every last one of them.

Hunger and scarcity grew with the late afternoon sun.

Compassion compelled Jesus to act.

Jesus turned just five loaves and two fish

Into a banquet of abundance,

Feeding every last one of them,

Complete with twelve baskets left over.

God uses compassion to compel us to act, too.

Where is your compassion leading you?

What are you going to do about it?

Trust in God’s miracles.

Trust that God provides with abundance.


“Parables of the Kingdom”

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

July 26, 2020

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

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.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

“Have you understood all this?”

They answered, “Yes.” 

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”


This thirteenth chapter of Matthew is truly

One of the wonders of the world!

Two weeks ago we heard the parable of the sower;

Three out of four seeds sewn will fail, but …

Seeds that are sewn on good soil produced beyond the wildest imagination.

So too, will those who

“hear the word

(of the kingdom)

and understand it.” (13:19, 23)

Yeah! I want to be that guy!

I want to hear the word of the kingdom and understand it

That I can begin to immediately put the word to use

In my words and actions.

Tell me more, Jesus …

Last week we heard Jesus teaching his parable

Of the weeds among the wheat.

He starts with

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to …” (13:24)

The Son of Man sows the good seed,

Then sends out his angels

To separate all causes of sin and evildoers

In in one fell swoop of final judgment.

In the pre-pandemic world

That’s a fist bumping win for the home team.

Good wins over evil.

The righteous end up shining like the sun.

I want to be that guy;

The righteous one who ends up shining like the sun.


Jesus is teaching in parables

From a boat

To a crowd on the shore.

It is the perfect amphitheater,

Complete with natural acoustics

and the soothing sound of lake water lapping on the beach.

The momentum of the first two parables

Is like a flood surge topping an earthen dam.

It slowly erodes, accelerates, digs in, and quickly catastrophically fails.

Parables teach a lesson,

Communicate a Divine truth,

Using common themes the majority understood,

At the same time,

Providing Jesus with sufficient cover

To prevent his premature arrest.


“Jesus,” voices from the crowd cry out,

“Tell us more about the kingdom of heaven!”

We want to know more …

In rapid fire succession,

Jesus fills in the details

With today’s five brief parables.

The kingdom of heaven is like …

The kingdom of heaven is like

A mustard seed.

When it comes to faith

Size doesn’t matter!

Let us not forget that the mustard plant

Is invasive as mint,

Fast growing,

And quickly becomes a tree.

From the very modest

Great things will come.

A mustard seed can move mountains,

Jesus teaches in Matthew 17:20.

What is nearly invisible

Can have an overwhelming impact.

Like in the first parable,

One small seed has the potential to produce a fantastic yield.

Every individual,

Every child of God

Has the potential to be that mustard seed

In the emerging heavenly kingdom.

The migrant farmer

will rise up and lead the fight for justice,

Sweeping immigration reform,

Fair wages, and

Appropriate living conditions.

The homeless, single mother

Will rise up and become the leader in the community

That brings nutrition to babies,

Jobs and childcare to mothers,

And affordable housing for every family.

That non-violent protester today

Will rise up and one day will become

The member of congress that replaces oppressive racism

With equality and justice for all.

That individual who overdosed or was arrested and charged with DWI?

The one who’s family tired of his relapses,

Who disowned him,

Who society had stigmatized,

And who was left for dead

In that inner-city drug house?

You know, the one

Found, revived by Narcan, and got their life together?

The one who sobered the disease into remission

And is now making two meetings a day?

Yeah, that guy or gal.

One day,

That person will become the researcher who finds the

Root cause, deep in the brain, of addiction …

And will find a way to reverse this neurological affliction

That transforms every patient

Into a model of health and wellness.


Even I have a shot!

Tell us more, Jesus!

Can you hear the crowd clamoring for more?

The kingdom of heaven is like …

Yeast that makes flour rise.

The kingdoms, empires, and thrones of this world

Are like unleavened bread;

Dull, flat, and tasteless.

But when the kingdom of heaven comes ripping in

Three measures, or nearly

50 bushels of flour,

Will be transformed by

A teaspoon size amount of yeast.

That’s all it takes!

A teaspoon

Leavens 50 bushels.

A teaspoon is all it takes to change everything!

When Jesus steps in,

Passing through the bulkhead that links heaven and earth,

This world is transformed.

Jesus empowers all God’s children

Leavens us like yeast

To rise above life’s circumstances,

To become more than ever imagined, dreamt, or hoped to be.

The presence of Jesus in your life

Is more than just that well-meaning pep-talk from a childhood coach.

Jesus Christ is the power surging in your veins,

Blood of His blood, blood of our blood.

Jesus Christ gives life, health, and goodness.  


Jesus, we can rise above all this.

Even I can be transformed into something worthwhile!

Tell us more about the kingdom of heaven …

The kingdom of heaven is like unbounded, exuberant joy!

Imagine, finding unclaimed treasure;

Chests of gold, diamonds, and jewels.

Keep it a secret until you can legally lay claim to it.

That joy, that inner desire to laugh, that grin you can’t wipe off your face,

Looking forward to the moment you can announce your find to the world?


That joy!

That joy is what the kingdom of heaven is like.

There is great joy in the justice that Jesus brings.

Others might call it “Karma”, but I don’t.

The justice of Jesus Christ levels the playing field,

Overturns the wrongs and rights the rights.

The justice of our Lord

Brings down those who hoard the abundance God has provided.

The justice of Jesus redistributes wealth

Such that every mouth is fed,

Every family has a home and every child is clothed.

The justice of God provides meaningful employment for everyone who can work

and support for those who can not.

There is exuberant joy in the peace that Jesus brings.

With peace there is prosperity.

With peace there is security.

Imagine a world without violence, terrorism, or war.

This is what Jesus is pulling through the portal from the kingdom of heaven.

This is the peace that Jesus is sowing across our flawed lands.

The peace that Jesus brings

Gives us joy!

Oh. My. God.

I couldn’t be more overjoyed!

Jesus, tell us more about the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is like …

A merchant, a common retailer,

Who searches for and finds a valuable treasure,

Like a pearl of great value.

That merchant then is willing to

Sell everything,

Do anything,

To claim it as their own.

Obsession should be more than just the name of a perfume.

Obsession is the attitude every person of faith should take

In seeking out and obtaining

Everything Jesus has to offer.

Are we obsessed with loving God?

Then let us bring our A game to worship and

Insist on excellence instead of apathy,

Unity instead of division?

Are we obsessed with loving our neighbors?

Then why do we continue to divide, offend, and criticize?

Why do we nurture unresolved hatred and conflicts

And enjoy watching passively while neighbors suffer?

Are we obsessed with sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus?

Of proclaiming to the world

Good news of God’s grace,

Redemption and salvation for all?

Faith without obsession

Is like watering a weed.


Sweet Jesus.

The age of passive Christianity needs to be dead and buried.

The age of apathetic Christianity has come to an end.

The kingdom of authentic, effective, obsessed Christian action is upon us.

Be a part of the solution that transforms this world into God’s completed kingdom.

Anything else we need to know about the kingdom of heaven, Jesus?

Why yes, there is.

The kingdom of heaven is like …

A net that catches everything.

The time for judgment is coming, and soon will be.

But for now,

The net catches fish of every kind.

The kingdom is diverse and inclusive.

You and I don’t have to pick and choose.

Just cast the net and bring them all in!

Stop looking for rich prospects

Who we hope will pay our bills.

Stop looking for replacements because

We’ve grown old and are worn out.

Stop looking for people who look just like us

Who we hope will share the same values and beliefs.

Stop looking for millennials, x-ers, busters, and boomers.

Cast the net and bring them all in.

Sweet Jesus,

You’ve given us more than we expected today.

There’s more here about the kingdom of heaven

And our place in it

Than we ever could have imagined.

God created you,

Gave you life,

And now

God calls you and me

to spread and grow

The kingdom of heaven.

You and I,

We play an important part

In leavening this world;

Transforming it and allowing the kingdom of heaven to rise.

This brings us joy!

This makes us obsessed!

Burn with obsession

Until all are brought in;

Until all love and serve the Lord.


“God’s Prerogative”

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

July 19, 2020

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

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.’”

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!


I look out at my brown, arid, un-watered lawn,

Speckled like a mine field with

Iron weeds, dandelions, and unknown variants of thistles.

It almost appears that the Lord has given me divine insight into

Matthew’s Gospel parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.

Sometimes a parable is just a parable,

But not today.

Jesus is planting seeds today, that,

For the observant,

Results in abundant harvest,

Spanning time, culture, and place,

Generation, after generation, after generation.

A few thoughts.

This parable of Jesus, and its explanation,

Is only found in the Gospel of Matthew.

Unlike most other narratives of Jesus and his teachings,

The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds

Isn’t paralleled in Mark, Luke, or John.  

Matthew remembers and records this parable of Jesus

Because of their unique setting, circumstances, and audience.

The world’s superpower occupation government, Rome,

Had crushed the Jewish uprising a decade or two prior to its writing,

Hurling the few survivors to every corner of the world

In what is known as the diaspora.

In Matthew’s setting,

The tax thirsty, violent, oppressive occupation of Rome

Were the weeds sown by a cosmic enemy.

The destroyed Temple-centric Judaism further confirmed for Matthew

That corrupt, greedy, power thirsty organized religion

Were also weeds sown by an enemy sowing evil.

Matthew’s primary audience was the first Century Church;

One or two generations removed from the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

They eagerly anticipated the promised return of Jesus,

Which, they believed, as we do today, when Christ returns

It would usher in a time of Divine judgment.

Divine judgment is a unique characteristic of the Gospel of Matthew.

If God’s judgment makes you uncomfortable,

Hold on to your horse,

Because this bronco of Gospel judgment is going to give you a ride for your money

Right up through November.

Matthew today surveys the landscape,

Sees the weeds, Rome and organized religion, sown by the enemy, who Jesus names, “the devil”. (13:39)

At the same time, he sees the Church as a field of grain,

A beautiful field of grain,

Newly sown by the hand of a benevolent, responsible Creator.

The sower sows with an expectation of harvest.

The first gem we find today

Is this enduring truth for all disciples of Jesus:

That you and I have been created, planted, and nurtured by our Creator,

Who expects results out of us,

Who expects us to yield a harvest of grain and seed.

In my mind’s eye, and

In the tradition of Matthew’s Gospel,

I can imagine my future self

Standing before the Lord,

The God who created me,

Being asked the question, “How did you do?”

Judgment is like two farmers at the Grange comparing yields of their harvest.

“How did you do?”

It is the Lord’s prerogative to judge,

To ask of every Christian for accountability for our actions.

Think about it.

God doesn’t hold us accountable for the quantity of wealth we accumulate.

God does hold us accountable for how we’ve put that wealth to use to maximize the harvest.

Think about God’s judgment.

God doesn’t hold us accountable for our achievements, titles, degrees, or awards.

God does hold us accountable for how we’ve used our talent and experience to maximize the harvest.

God’s judgment isn’t a thumbs up or thumbs down

Effort to decide eternal disposition,

Between a molten hell or celestial heaven.

God’s judgment is being held accountable

For our time, talent, and treasures

To maximize the Lord’s harvest.

“How are you doing?”

Newly sprouted, immature grain, like young Christians, are vulnerable.

Roots aren’t established; they aren’t mature.

Better not tear up the newly planted field of grain to go after the weeds,

Jesus teaches.

Jesus warns of misleading new Christians in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew:

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”


Focus every effort on growing the grain,

Maximizing the harvest.

Allowing the weeds to grow among us

Is the only way we are assured of

Our survival, ability to grow, and future ability to provide a harvest.

Allowing weeds sown by the enemy to grow

Is a courageous act of faith.

Yes, we live in a world where evil is alive and mortally dangerous.

Let none of us be naïve.

Yet, we believe to the depth of our marrow,

That the Lord is our final arbitrator.

Weeds that do not bear fruit or harvest,

The Lord will judge worthy of fire.

Trust in the Lord’s judgment.

Make way for the angels to cull the weeds,

Gather them up, and

Set them on fire.

Weeds are worthy only of destruction,

Nothing more, nothing less.

Weeping and gnashing of teeth? So be it.

God’s prerogative is to judge that which has been planted,

To hold us accountable for the harvest.

I’m not responsible for judgment; God is.

This frees me to focus on what is important:

Loving God, loving neighbors, inviting the world into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Being judgmental of another’s faith, spiritual development, or effectiveness

Is too heavy a burden to bear.

Drop that millstone.

Leave it up to God.

I know I struggle keeping my judgment in check,

Biting my lip and sitting on my hands.

How are you doing?


Lastly, a question I’ve been mulling over a lot this week:

Does the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds give us a pass on confronting evil?

Jesus is pretty clear that we are to leave the weeds alone.

I’m not searching for a pity opinion that preaches well.

I’m searching for an observation that squares itself with the rest of the Gospel and Scripture.

The Apostle Paul ran up against this same question …

… are Christians to confront the evil of this world, sown by the devil?

Paul outlines a standard for Christian living and engagement

In his letter to the church in Rome:

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:9-21

Instead of judgment and condemnation

Christians are called to love

Until evil is destroyed,

Until evil is no more.

Love and make room for the wrath of God.

I commend to you, beloved, Romans 12:9-21.

Make it the focus of your prayers and devotions this coming week.


I love the fact that God holds me accountable.

I’m expected to do something about the faith that I’ve been given.

It’s a challenge I readily accept,

A goal I strive to achieve.

Christian faith expects each of us to speak and act with love and

To lead the world to Jesus.

The Lord sets the bar of expectation extremely high and

Holds every Christian accountable.

How are you doing?

Accountable faith is confirmation of the fact that

God’s grace may be free, but it isn’t cheap.

God’s grace,

Especially when held in the context of Divine judgment,

Is paid for by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The price of God’s grace is the life of Jesus.

God’s grace,

When each of us comes before the Lord,

Is played out in mercy by our Divine Judge.

This is mercy: Your sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ.

This is mercy: Your salvation is assured because Jesus rose from the dead.

Being held accountable to our merciful God

Is a small price to pay for such a loving gift of amazing grace.