Friday 18 July 2014

Matthew 13 v24/44

The passage in Matthew 13 is a parable about a farmer who sows good seed in the ground but someone sows bad seed when he is not looking. The bad seed is so like the good it is only discernible when fully grown. At harvest the reapers sought the good from the bad and burn the bad.

This is not a farming discourse our Lord is giving but a warning of separation and judgement. The good seed represents those who have chosen to accept and follow Christ, the bad seed that of the evil one (devil, Satan, or call him whatever you will). Sometime a person may appear to be a good Christian when in fact he/she is not, but on the day of judgement will be sought out and separated. Conversely, a person not thought much of may be a very sincere and good person. We learn therefore not to exercise judgement.

This parable gives many preachers problems as they are unable to face the reality taught in the Bible. One Vicar said it brought out the worst in some preachers and irreverently referred to those of us who accept our Lord’s strict teaching as ‘tub thumpers’. This only goes to show there is no one as illiberal as a liberal.

Jesus is here warning us of the consequences of what we face if we reject Him, at the same time showing His love and concern for us.

Jesus always made it plain that this life is a preparation for eternity, and we face a choice now. He taught there were two roads in life, a broad one on which there will be many people, and probably causing congestion, and which leads to destruction, and a narrow one where there will be far less travelling on, leading to eternal life. In other words, two destinies, heaven or hell. To suggest this to many people, including clergy, is an anathema and fewer preachers are now willing to proclaim it so.

I was told of a mural in a Church not far from my home in which is depicted a scene in which people are being driven to hell. Shortly after hearing of this I had occasion to attend a clergy meeting at that Church. The mural was pointed out to me and I said that I found it hard to distinguish what it meant, when a fellow clergyman said it had not received attention so had faded as we don’t tell people about going to hell now. I replied, ‘I do’, and he looked at me completely astonished. However I feel it should be me being astonished.

There are various view held on what finally happens to us when we die. Some believe that is all there is to life everything is finished; others believe everyone goes to heaven for a loving God would never send anyone to hell; and that is true, the point is many choose to go by their manner of living.

There is only one authoritative source, the Bible, all else is pure speculation. There we find Jesus telling, as He does in this parable, of a literal hell. In fact whenever He spoke of heaven He spoke of the alternative (hell) Read the story of Lazarus in Luke 16; or. the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25.

Some people think that Jesus was just trying to frighten us, which raises the question is there something to be frightened of?

One often finds speed warning signs along a stretch of road telling of speed camera being in operation, this is often accompanied by signs telling of the numbers of people killed. These are to remind us how we could be one of those casualties, and any sensible person will heed the warnings. This parable also contains a warning. Which road are you travelling on?

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