Weeds can ruin a beautiful garden or farm field.
A tiny mustard seed can grow into a big tree.
A little yeast can make bread rise – or can contaminate it, if it’s bad.
Hidden treasure is a good thing, if it’s discovered.
A fishing net nabs good fish and rotten ones at the same time. They must be sorted.
In Matthew 13, Jesus runs through a bunch of parables, includes most of these, with his disciples.
“Have you understood all this?” he asked them in verse 51.
They answered, “Yes.”
I wonder if they really did.
At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus told them the parable of the four soils, which the disciples then asked him to explain. Jesus did that, in detail.
The four soils describe people who aren’t listening to God, those who turn away from God when bad things happen, those who get distracted by the things of this world, and those who follow God completely.
Jesus also explained the parable of the weeds, pointing to the coming Judgment Day when God will send angels to “collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire …” (verse 41).
Jesus didn’t explain the other parables.
In Matthew 13:33, Jesus told his disciples that a little yeast leavens an entire loaf of bread. Soon after, in Matthew 16:6, Jesus said, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” In other words, a little false or deceptive teaching can ruin good theology.
We shouldn’t mix good and evil. Nowhere in the Bible does God allow a middle path. Follow the narrow path of salvation, or we’re on the wide path of destruction. There’s no third path (Matthew 7:13-14).
Good and evil. Heaven and hell. Male and female. Obey God or disobey God. Grain or weeds. Life and death. Light and darkness.
Whenever I read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), I see that every person Jesus encountered was forced to make a choice about him. Follow, or walk away. You’re with me, or you’re against me (Matthew 12:30).
Many walked away.
Jesus did not pursue those who rejected him. Do you notice that? He let them go.
But everyone who met Jesus changed, and that still happens today. There are ramifications either way. We reap what we sew (Galatians 6:7-9).
If we don’t want God in our lives, God will honor that. He’s not an arm-twister. But as with every decision we make, there are consequences, good or bad.
This life often sends us mixed signals. Go or stop? Depends which way we are going.
Soon after moving to Elyria six years ago, a policeman stopped me at this traffic light at 1:15 in the morning. I was weaving between lanes in my big white Grand Marquis. New to town, I didn’t know immediately which lane I wanted to be in.
The officer thought I was drunk. He engaged me in conversation and quickly discovered that I wasn’t under the influence of anything; I was just confused. After giving me a warning, he sent me on my way. (I turned left at this intersection, by the way.)
Life shouldn’t be this difficult to navigate, but often it is, isn’t it?
Almost 11 years ago, I got downsized from a job I enjoyed for more than two decades. What was my next step? It wasn’t clear. Indeed, I didn’t do much of anything for a long time after that. Lesson learned: Doing nothing is not a good next step.
Eventually, I took a job out-of-state. Many changes and consequences followed. Unexpectedly, the job didn’t last. Another out-of-state job relocation took place. That job didn’t last either.
If only every signal was either a red light or a green arrow.
I thought I saw green arrows, but the light changed. Frequently.
Everything changes on this earth. We all know this. We graduate, then have to do something with our lives. We get sick. We grow old. Many of us marry, and have children. They grow up. Spring follows winter. (Not all change is bad, right?)
Green light go
With that backdrop, I read this: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
There are days I literally have nothing else to hold on to. Change is the one constant. I’ve seen plenty of it, especially in the past decade: New jobs. Getting fired. New friends. New volunteer opportunities; some of those don’t last either. Our church opened a satellite campus last week, so I’m worshipping in an entirely new place now, leaving behind (but not forever) some very good friends.
When we moved to Rockford, Illinois, we did not know a soul. When we moved to Elyria, Ohio, less than a year and a half later, we did not know hardly a soul here, either (my aunt lives 20 minutes away, so that was cool).
But because Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever, once we found Bible-believing churches in both locations, we had instant friends. The path might be narrow, but there are quite a few people on it. Really.
Anyone is welcome to travel the narrow path, but only a few find it. That’s what Jesus said.
That narrow path extends to just about every place where people live. I find great comfort in that. While life changes all around me, there’s one constant: Jesus Christ. He is the solid foundation, which remains in place even as the storms of life rock it (Matthew 7:24-27).
That’s why I’m a Christian.
The Bible makes sense. It fits together. Its signals are not mixed.
That’s why so many of you have trouble with Jesus. He forces a decision on you. Yea or nay. No third option, much as we try.
For those of us who follow Jesus every day, his singular love for us helps us keep on track, and he brings us back when we fall off track – which happens often. We shouldn’t, but we do.
Yeast works both ways. Ugh.
I want the good yeast in my life, not the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
If only I could keep my eyes on the green light all the time.