I could use Jesus in our garden this year, with all of the rain that has multiplied weeds by the thousands, if not millions—but Jesus is not a gardener.
Here’s the proof, in his own words, better known as his Parable of the Sower:
“A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Luke 8:4:15)
Hey, I’m listening. More over, I’m looking around. This parable isn’t ringing true. Seeds, at least those belong to weeds, grow everywhere. Take Creeping Charlie. It seems especially happy to grow among thorns, across dry land or wet, across lawns and into carefully tended gardens. (Perhaps that’s why it’s described as “creeping.”) It goes over things. Under things. If Jesus was a gardener instead of a shepherd, he would know that.
And he would welcome Christians who had those traits. Thorns aren’t going to choke ‘em out. They come back. They seem to grow and spread without effort. So what if their roots aren’t deep? They seem to be perfectly successful in their quest to conquer the world.
Yet Jesus prefers Christians who are like sheep and not weeds. He didn’t go after the missing one-out-of-one hundred weeds, like he did sheep. He didn’t carry sheep carefully on his shoulder, as artists have painted. He didn’t say that weeds hear his voice like sheep do.
Sheep are not so smart. They usually go where they are told and in a group mentality. They have to be fed and nurtured. As Jesus told Peter, three times, “Love my sheep.” Sheep take a ton of work. Weeds don’t.
Weeds will grow anywhere. And they are not easily deterred. They will grow in poor soil and bad. They persevere. And they keep coming back.
Not bad qualities for Christians—in fact, pretty good traits.
Like I said, Jesus was a shepherd—not a gardener.