Watch out for the crops.
The owner of a field has sown a field of wheat and and “enemy” has sown seeds of weed in the field of the wheat crop. “Enemy” is I think perhaps too strong a term. I suggest that business rival, or competitor might be nearer to a correct description.
What is not explicitly stated in the passage in the NIV UK Bible, is that the particular weed sown amongst the good wheat was Darnel, which may also be called Tare. This particular weed looks similar to wheat until it is fully grown. So similar that in some places it is called false wheat.
Darnel is mildly poisonous. It is highly unlikely to kill you if you consume it, but you will feel ill for quite a while.
From the rival farmer’s perspective, that sowed the bad seed, the benefit continues after the season in which the good farmer’s crop is blighted. If the good farmer’s crop mildly poisons someone because of the Darnel, people will be more wary of purchasing from that farmer for a number of years.
When the farmer’s workers discover that the weed Darnel has been sewn with the crop, they ask if they should pull it out. The farmer says no, it is too young to be able to separate it from the good plants. They must wait until it is fully grown to separate the good from the bad.
Jesus explains to his disciples that at the end of the age, when the weeds and crop have grown together, it is possible to separate the good from the bad, the good people from the bad. The bad crop or weeds to be burned.
While not explicitly stated, it seems to me that there is a secondary lesson in that parable. It is found in the action of the farmer letting the crop and weed grow together. By acting too soon the farmer would lose much more of the crop than by waiting, letting the weeds grow amongst it. Patience was needed to know which to keep and which to discard.
God has infinate patience, unlike humankind, who want everything now.
As a minor point of interest to end, I do not think that parable could be applied today, because of the mechanised farming methods. Farm machinery could not, as far as I know, separate the wheat from the darnel.
Thoughts on the painting by Peter Paul Rubens.
One of the first things that struck me is that all of the figures in Rubens’ picture are fair skinned. It is highly unlikely that this would have been the case, though the two men, I take to be Joseph of Arimathea’s servants, leaning over the cross bar to Lower Christ’s body, do have that swarthy outdoor look about them.
The next thing that caught my attention is the colour of John’s clothing; red the colour of blood. The robe is very close in colour the the blood on Christ’s body, but this in itself I think is the wrong colour. Blood turns darker, almost brown as it dries.
All the characters in Rubens’ picture appear in one of the gospels, though not all in the same gospel. Nicodemus presence in this scene is only recorded in the gospel of John.
Another aspect of the picture that caught my attention is the title, The Descent From The Cross. Particularly the use of “Descent”.
Descent usually means to move down, fall or drop. What we see in Rubens’ picture is not just descent by moving down, but being taken down, or lowered. A physical act by a group of Jesus’ friends, family and followers, not of his own action.
If we think again of descent in a spiritual, instead of physical sense, it might have a different, allegorical meaning. The Apostles Creed tells us that:
He descended to the dead. (In some versions hell, instead of dead)
On the third day He rose again.
So it is possible that the title was a deliberate choice of words, to indicate that the picture is not solely depicting the physical act of taking Jesus down from he cross, so that he could be entombed.
Are they one and the same?
In The Bible’s book of Genesis, humankind are given “dominion” over the plantet upon which we live. At the end of The Bible, in Revelation, we are told of “a new heaven and a new earth”, which are also the final words of the book Unveiling a Parallel. which I reviewed here, that inspired this post.
At the end of the Unveiling a Parallel story, the unnamed traveller to the planet Mars saw in the society of that planet what could be a different way of living for the humanity of this Earth. He came to appreciate how the people of Mars lived an idyll; a new heaven. Or, what could be heaven like if Earth’s humanity could learn to live peacefully together.
Earth’s humanity has taken “dominion” as giving ourselves the right to exploit the planet, usually for profit. We have forgotten that dominion also confers responsibility to respect and protect, to manage and steward Earth’s resources in a way that does not harm the planet. We have ignored these inconvenient aspects of dominion.
Humankind has taken oil and coal, metals and minerals from planet Earth with little regard to the consequences. We have poisoned great tracts with chemicals and pumped greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. We have cut down great swathes of the trees that make the oxygen we breathe. Ee face global warming and an uncertain future, largely due to our quest for profit, which ignores the inconvenient truths.
What if, taking Revelation as as a illustration, a new parable maybe, the new heaven and new earth were one and the same?
The traveller to Mars sees a society, and a way of living, that he perceives as a potential heaven on Earth, if only we people of planet Earth could overcome our petty squabbles, wars, injustice, violence and exploitation of the the Earth’s resources for profit.
What might be our new heaven and new earth? Could the new heaven and new earth be one and the same? We are, albeit slowly, beginning to realise the harm we are are doing to our planet. The only planet we know that can support human life.
Could it be that if we fully realise the extent of our destruction of the planet, it is not too late to do something about it?
It took millions of years for planet Earth to evolve to a human habitable environment. It took only a few hundred to strip it and damage it, to its present state. As with everything, damage to the planet was inflicted much, much faster than its evolution and our ability to repair that damage.
But suppose for a moment we do repair the damage. It will probably take generations; thousands of years to return it to the state it took hundreds to bring to its current state. If all the people of the planet started tomorrow to repair the damage, it would take generations to repair and recover but at the end of it all, our descendants could once again live on a clean, fecund planet. Perhaps a new Heaven and a new Earth.