The stories Jesus told were meant to unsettle his listeners. C. H. Dodd defines a parable as 'a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.'
As you read the Parable of the thistles in the field what struck you? Surprised you? What was vivid or strange? How does the story challenge or widen or deepen your faith?
We live in a very different context from Jesus. Stories about shepherds and farming are distant, almost mythic. Can you imagine a contemporary setting for the story Jesus told (for example, 'the Kingdom of God is like riding a Trimet bus ... or going to Pioneer Courthouse Square ...').
Feel free to post a response to the parable or to the sermon. I'd be glad to know how the stories Jesus told have teased your mind 'into active thought.'
Peace to you,
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. "The
farmhands came to the farmer and said, 'Master, that was clean
seed you planted, wasn't it? Where did these thistles come from?'
"He answered, 'Some enemy did this.' "The farmhands asked,
'Should we weed out the thistles?' "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.'"
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." 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 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?”
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