Parable of the Weeds on Death Row: Jeff Hood & Bart Johnson

Parable of the Weeds on Death Row: Jeff Hood & Bart Johnson December 21, 2023


Parable of the Weeds on Death Row: Jeff Hood & Bart Johnson


The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, Death Row Spiritual Advisor

Bart Johnson, Prisoner on Alabama’s Death Row


Matthew 13:24-30


Jesus told them another parable:


“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”


Parables are not static phenomena.  Each generation engages the wisdom anew.  Jesus knew such truth.  Thus, the parables of Jesus are about us finding our own truth in our own settings in our own ways for our own futures.


When Jesus shared The Parable of the Weeds, he was speaking to a group of people who would have very clearly understood this passage to be talking about various ideas of heaven…a place everybody obviously wanted to go.  Such a simplistic explanation does not speak to the place that we presently find ourselves in.  In fact, we see something very different.


History is full of self-righteous sowers…those who become enamored with their own truth to the detriment of others.  The owner of the land sowed what he thought was good seed…but what if it wasn’t?  What if the sower was just slinging his own self-righteous truth?  So many people who advocate for killing people do so with the belief that their advocacy is good seed.  What could be better than ridding the world of killers?  The problem with such thinking is that murder don’t solve murder.  How can you kill your way to a better world?  Those of us who know better have to take action.


Lies don’t live forever.  The sower seeks to pass on his corrupted knowledge of truth to the next generation.  He tries to teach his kids that one can get rid of killing by killing.  His enemy are those who teach love and justice.  Weeds begin to grow and corrupt all that he thought was true.  The older he gets the more his children tell him that his good seed is corrupting the weeds.  Things grow complicated and by the time he gets to a place where he wants to separate everything out and kill the weeds…he can’t even tell the difference.


Some would say that such an interpretation is simplistic.  Maybe a return to simplicity is exactly what Jesus is calling for?  The simple truth that love is the only way to stop the killing.  Such truth seems to be found in figuring out ways to stop separating each other in the first place.  Murder must be punished…just not with more murder.


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