The Framework of History (3)
He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” Matthew 13.37
In the Christian life, what you expect is what you’ll hope for, and what you hope for will determine how you pursue your walk with and work for the Lord.
This is the essence of Hebrews 11.1. Faith – saving faith in Jesus – is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Saving faith produces an inward assurance that what we hope for in Jesus is true, trustworthy, and within our grasp. Such assurance guides our daily lives, leading us to bring forth much fruit of good works, the evidence that those unseen things are really true (Eph. 2.8-10; Jn. 15.5, 16).
This is the fruit of Jesus’ rule in the life of the believer. But we will only bring forth such fruit as we expect Him to be at work within us, willing and doing of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.13). When our expectations line up with the expectations of Christ, the fruit of His rule will be increasingly evident in our lives.
All this depends seeing Jesus as He is and as He is working now to advance His Kingdom in the field of the world. And here the parable of the wheat and tares can guide us.
What in heaven is Jesus doing?
Many believers have what amounts to a deistic view of Jesus and what He’s up to in the world today. As they see it, He has finished His course, run His race, and ascended into heaven. Now He sits back and watches the action unfold, looking out over the events of history to see who will believe the Good News and be born again. Meanwhile, He is preparing our eternal home, and getting ready for His return.
This is true, as far as it goes, but it’s hardly the whole story.
The picture that Jesus presents in the parable of the wheat and the tares is much different. Here the Lord is active in the world. The Son of Man sows good seed into the field, from the time of His incarnation clear through to the final harvest. Though He rules in heaven, He rides forth daily on the earth, sowing good seed as He goes (Ps. 45.3-5; cf. Rev. 6.1, 2).
He pursues this sowing by His Spirit, working in the Church, by His people’s witness of transformed lives and transforming grace and truth. Jesus as Sower leads the mission of the Church and the work of His Spirit in giving His people power to bear fruit and be His witnesses (Acts 1.8).
Every Christian is both seed and sower in the Son of Man’s mission to blanket the world with the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Christians are the good seed of the Kingdom. When you plant an acorn into the ground, what do you expect? A scrawny understory bush, barely hardy enough to stand against a strong wind? Of course not. You’re envisioning a towering oak, flush with glorious leaves, reproducing acorns in regular cycles to fill the ground around it with other oaks like itself.
Sown with expectations
When Jesus sows the good seed of the Kingdom, what does He expect? Little saplings of believers shivering amid the cold secularism of the age and the storms of unbelief, sheltering in the greenhouses of their churches, singing their praise songs and studying their Bibles in harmless clusters, away from the world and its woes, turning nothing upside down in the name of Jesus?
No. Jesus is sowing the good seed of the Kingdom, for He intends that righteousness, peace, joy, and justice shall increase and advance throughout His field (Rom. 14.17, 18; Is. 9.7). As we shall see, the secular world is not a weed field, waiting to be burned; it is a wheat field to be sown, cultivated, and gloriously harvested in the Lord’s time.
Since we are the good seed of the Kingdom, we must seek and expect – as Jesus surely does – that all the fruit and flower and force of the Kingdom will be increasingly evident in our lives, in every aspect of our lives, all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
And then we are to reproduce that glorious, transformed life in others, by sowing the good seed of the Kingdom into every area of their lives, until the progress of the Kingdom is increasingly evident wherever we raise the banner of our King.
Contrary to what many believers today expect, people will be converted to Christ, even the skeptical, unbelieving people of our secular age. Manners will change, conversation will improve, frivolous and unfruitful interests will be abandoned, foolish and sinful ways will be forsaken, churches will be revived, cultures will be renewed, whole societies and even the times in which we live will declare by the justice and righteousness in which they thrive, that another King rules the world, Whose Name is Jesus, and Whose ways fly victoriously in the face of all the self-centered vanity of our times (Acts 17.1-9).
If you do not see your life in these secular times like this, then you are not seeing with the mind and eyes of Christ. You are good seed of the Kingdom, with expectations of bearing much fruit, or you are not a Christian at all.
1. What role to expectations play in the life of faith? Where do our expectations come from? What expectations should we have as believers?
2. Jesus rides forth to sow His field every day. How is He doing that through your life?
3. What are the greatest obstacles to understanding our times as Jesus does, so that we will know what we should be doing in seeking His Kingdom? How can we overcome these?
Next steps – Conversation: Talk with some Christian friends about being both seed and sowers in the Kingdom of Christ. What does that require of us? How can we help one another?
T. M. Moore
For a more complete study of the book of Ecclesiastes, download our Scriptorium series on Ecclesiastes by clicking here. Ecclesiastes is an excellent book to share with an unbelieving friend, as it confronts all the idols and vain hopes of unbelief, exposing their folly and holding out the hope of life in God alone. We’ve prepared a verse translation of Ecclesiastes which is suitable for sharing with believers and unbelievers alike. Order your copy of Comparatio, by clicking here.
For a more developed view of the Kingdom, and of the Gospel of the Kingdom, order a copy of our book The Kingdom Turn (click here) or The Gospel of the Kingdom (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.