Ben Witherington III, summarizes the meaning of the parable this way,
“Verse 30 brings us to the eschatological punch line—allow them to grow together until the harvest. Harvest is of course a traditional symbol for both final redemption and final judgment. It is a true-to- life feature of the parable that the house master suggests that at harvest time the darnel will be bound up in bundles and burned for fuel. In wood-poor Israel, weeds would be dried and used for fuel. The good wheat however was gathered into the granary. The Evangelist in fact provides us with the correct interpretation of this parable in vv. 36-43, and there is little reason to doubt that the explanation goes back to Jesus, as the field is not the church here, so this parable is not about the First Evangelist’s faith community or church. The field is the world” (Matthew: Smyth & Helwys Commentary, 2006, p. 267).
Reading the Scripture
Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:
o The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the church office.
• The parables of the kingdom, we study in this unit, deal with agricultural themes. Invite a farmer each week to speak to the parables from a farmer’s perspective.
• The following story is kind of funny and somewhat relevant to the Parable of the Weeds: “The Southern Methodist University marching band was performing at half time of a football game at rival Texas Christian University on November 26, 2000. When they formed their traditional diamond shaped ‘M’ at midfield, each band member secretly dropped rye grass seed on the field. The next spring the bright green rye grass formed the Southern Methodist ‘M’ which stood out clearly against the dormant brown Bermuda grass in the middle of the TCU field.” See as picture on this web page.
• Lolium temulentum, darnel, poison darnel, cockle—For pictures and an article on the weed referred to in the parable see this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum.
• Here’s an activity to help your class members remember today’s lesson: Bring your class to my house to pull the weeds in my flowerbeds and landscape as a visual illustration of how weeds and desirable plants grow together. No? Okay, maybe you could suggest that the next your class members weed their gardens, they could use the time to meditate on the lessons from the Parable of the Weeds (Formations Study Guide):
o We might be the weeds.
o Even the weeds have a purpose.
o We should learn to get along with unpleasant people.
• Invite class members to reflect on the Parable of the Weeds in worship today: “Today in worship we will pray, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ As you do, consider the people we might think of as difficult or weeds.”
• For pictures and an article on the weed referred to in the parable see this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum.
• For a better understanding of farming in New Testament times see Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life (Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 172-185).
• These dictionaries in the library have articles on “Parables” and “the Kingdom of God”:
o Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990)
o Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised and Updated (Harper & Row, 2011)
o The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Five Volume Set (Abingdon, 1976)
• For additional commentary on the text, see these commentaries in our library:
o Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)