I learned more about weeds than I ever wanted to know as a boy in Bahati. Walking through the soybean feels to cut out the weeds was my after-school job from age 7. My grandpa Benjamin Karanjah before burning his new shoes after covering them with weeds to shade them from hot sun, taught me that all weeds were not the same and could not be destroyed in the same way.
A cockle burr had shallow but widespread roots and had to be pulled out to get all the roots. If you hacked it off at the ground level with a hoe it would be back in a week. A milkweed had a very long tap root that could not be pulled out. If you did try to pull it up, three separate sprouts would be back in a week. Milkweeds had to be hacked off with a hoe and would “bleed” and die as the sap ran out. If you didn’t handle the weeds right, hours of backbreaking work in the sun would be completely wasted.
Jesus seem to have met my grandfather too since he knew his weeds as well. The meaning of Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the weeds becomes clearer when we look at the specific kind of weed he talks about. Tares are “bearded darnel, mentioned only in Matt. 13:25-30. It is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine.” The problem with taking our hoe to the evil weeds of the world is that good and evil sometimes look so much alike. It only becomes clear later.