Once upon a time in jolly old England, I met a dog named Muffin. Muffin belonged to my boyfriend, and I met her when I had just arrived from the States on a trip to meet his parents. They were stationed in London with the US Navy at that time. Muffin took one look at me and said, “Nope.” I am actually very good with dogs, and so I was quite frustrated over my inability to win Muffin’s heart. I suggested we take her for a long walk along the creek. I was sure that I could convince her to adore me.
Instead, I ended up in a large patch of thistles. Long, spiny, SPIKEY, flesh-eating thistles. Thistles that penetrated my hands, arms, and legs in the spots where I had landed when Muffin….bless her little canine heart….PUSHED me down. Deliberately. With malice aforethought!
Oh, she was a clever girl! She waited for just the right time to jump on me, at the exact moment that my boyfriend made a move to put his arm around me. She played it off like an uncharacteristic display of happy excitement. I wasn’t fooled. She was jealous. Down I went, and I believe that she truly WAS uncharacteristically happy to see me….as I laid splayed on the ground, bleeding from the thorny spikes.
Jealousy had won the day for a dog named Muffin. On the other hand, I married the boyfriend. WHO’S THE WINNER NOW, MUFFY???
Matthew 13 (The Message)
24-26 He told another story. “God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too.
27 “The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn’t it? Where did these thistles come from?’
28 “He answered, ‘Some enemy did this.’
“The farmhands asked, ‘Should we weed out the thistles?’
29-30 “He said, ‘No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.’”
I love the fact that the thistles are the bad guys in this story, too. As Jesus will explain, the thistles in the field represent the subjects of the Devil, who is the enemy. An enemy who sows in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep.
36 Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house. His disciples came in and said, “Explain to us that story of the thistles in the field.”
37-39 So he explained. “The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.
The thing about thistles is that they are deceptively pretty. They add color and texture to the sides of the creek, and their shape is like a soft Pom Pom. That is, until you get to the spikes.
The Devil and his minions are much the same. They are the pretty people, the people who are colorful and successful and don’t follow the same rules as the good seeds. They are the ones enjoying their affluence in the sun and their entitlement by the cool waters. They don’t do time, pay their taxes, obey the law, or have a moral code. They are ones who seem to be winning all the time.
Thistles, beware. Your time is coming.
40-43 “The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
This is the Word of God, for the good seeds of God. Thanks be to God.