I’ve been reading Matthew’s Gospel devotionally in Greek as a way to warm up my mind for the day. Today I was reading through the interpretation of the parable of the tares (Matt. 13:36-43). This parable identifies the son of man, Jesus, as the sower of the good seed, identified earlier in the chapter as the message about the kingdom of God (Matt. 13:19).
The field, which is understood as the world, seems to be split into two groups of people. I remember reading this great quote from the late George Ladd in his influential book A Theology of the New Testament. I grabbed the book off of my self and quickly accessed the quote, which I think really gets at what Matthew is trying to convey in regard to this important parable:
Here society is divided into two antithetical classes: those who hear and receive the word of the Kingdom and those who either do not know it or reject it. -p.51
Ladd argues that Jesus sees the world at two identifiable groups of persons. On one hand, you have those who have accepted Jesus’ gospel message about the coming kingdom of God. On the other hand, you have, basically, everyone else.
Two thoughts come to mind. First, this does not sound very much like the Jesus of liberal American theology who loves (read: tolerates) everyone. Those who refuse Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom are destined for the furnace of fire. Secondly, I wonder what those churches who have basically no room in their theology for the kingdom of God make of such a parable. If the name of the game is, as I was taught as a young child, spending eternity in heaven feeding grapes to the angels, how does the kingdom of God fit in at all?
Happy hump day.