The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

Matthew 13


We’re studying the greatest stories ever told, the Parables of our Lord. We’re studying today the second of the 7 Parables that Jesus told that are recorded in the 13th Chapter of Matthew.

Last week we studied the Parable of the Sower that went forth to sow and now we’ll study about the wheat and the tares. Now these are stories which He told to His disciples and the multitudes that stood on the banks to hear Him. Later He explained to His disciples why He spoke in Parables. Jesus was a master storyteller. In these verses we have the Parable and later in the verses we have the explanation of the Parable.

As the multitude listened, they didn’t understand; it clouded their minds, because of unbelief. Then, after the multitudes left, He explained to His disciples the meaning of the Parables and this was a wonderful, exciting experience for them.

The explanation of this Parable is given to us in Verses 36-43. We’ll read the Parable first in Verses 24-30; then we’ll read the explanation of the Parable in Verses 36-43.

Matthew 13:24-30 (Jesus speaking)
24Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Now the explanation.

Matthew 13:36-43 (Jesus responding)
36Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

You know, a lot of people are saying the world is getting better but I’ve lived a long time, as many of you have. The world is getting more wicked day by day as Jesus told us.

Matthew 24:22 (Jesus speaking)
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

At the beginning of this century, you would have been laughed at, almost to scorn, if you had suggested that the world was getting worse instead of better. While we have been able to achieve great scientific achievements, we have not been able to deal with the force of evil in our culture. People who are living for The Lord and looking for Him realize that apart from some kind of miraculous intervention, this world is on a slide downward. I’m not pessimistic. I’m facing reality because this world is not our home; we’re just passing through. Thank God! And we know who holds the future.

Jesus told these Parables because He wanted to give them instructions on how to live in a decaying world. You see, the disciples along with others, thought that Jesus was going to set up His Kingdom upon this earth and that all would be well, but you know what happened.

John 1:11
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

He ministered, died and rose and went back to Heaven and there’s a period on this earth when Jesus is absent in person, but the Holy Spirt abides with us.

Last week, we learned that there is going to be a lot sowing “Gospel seed” and about 25% of the people will believe. 75% of the Gospel sown will be rejected. The question that we have to answer in today’s story is, “How can good and evil coexist during this age and what should we do about it?”

Now everything in the Parable is in twos. First of all, we need to see as we study our own Bibles that there are two planters or two sowers. Verses 37, 38 tell us that the one who sowed good seed is the Son of man.

The term, the Son of man, was Jesus’ favorite term for Himself. Whenever He refers to Himself, He uses the term “Son of man.” I think that’s a wonderful thing for that’s His human title. That’s the title that identifies Him with us. The Bible tells us that there was another one that was planting in the field and that was the wicked one; he is defined as the devil and we have a picture of the world’s field. Notice there are two seeds. The good seed are the children of God and the tares of the seed are the children of Satan: 2 seeds.

In the first Parable, the seed was the Word of God. In the second Parable He changes it a little and tells us that in this Parable the seed are the children of The Father or the children of God, the Christians. Jesus said that God, as He sows His children in this field, the world, while we’re waiting for the King to come back, the devil is sowing his seed in the same field and he’s sowing it in the midst of God’s children so that there’s a mixture of Christians and non-Christians sown in the same field.

The Lord uses Parables that the people of his day understood and they would understand it clearly because the bad seeds were called darnel wheat because it resembled the good wheat. You could not tell the difference between them. And probably, the farmer would go out and think: ‘My! What a good crop of wheat in my field’ until the grain was grown and then he realized that he had a field that was about overgrown with darnel wheat, which was absolutely worthless on the market. It had no value whatsoever.

Note that in the first Parable, Satan allowed the human condition of the heart to choke out the word. In the second Parable he uses imitation to try to destroy the Kingdom. He sows imitation wheat in the midst of wheat to try to stamp out the purposes and the work of the Kingdom.

So, we have here in this Parable the two planters. We have the Son of man, who is Christ, sowing the children of God and we have the devil, who is the evil one, sowing his children in the world and we have the good seed, which are the children of God and the bad seed, which are the children of the devil. There are only two families. We either belong to God’s family or the enemy’s family. We might ask the question, “How are we supposed to deal with the co-existence of good and evil in this age?”

Notice we have the two planters and the two different kinds of seeds. Notice the two plans. There are two plans for dealing with the co-existence of evil and good in the world. In this Parable we just read, Jesus is telling us about the householder and when the householder finds out that someone has over sowed his field with darnel wheat in the midst of the wheat, we see in Verse 27.

Matthew 13:27-28 (Jesus speaking)
27So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

But, the master had another plan.

Matthew 13:29-30 (Jesus speaking)
29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Notice the Bible doesn’t say the devil sowed thorns and thistles. Jesus said that is the way it is in the world. The Lord has sown His children in the world to be light and salt, and the devil has sown his seed also, and we’re all growing up in this world together. Jesus is telling us we are going to have to live in this world that is over sown with evil wheat. Notice that the Word did not say that the enemy sowed thorns or thistles or weeds or briars. He sowed darnel wheat, which is absolutely impossible to distinguish from the genuine seed until harvest time.

So in the world today, the children of God are sown in a field where they are saturated and intertwined and covered and surrounded by the children of the evil one. There are whole movements that have grown in the last 100 years that do not teach the blood of the cross. There will be a harvest day.

Matthew 13:40-43 (Jesus speaking)
40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus is saying just like in the natural field, you let the darnel wheat and the genuine wheat grow up until harvest. All grow together until harvest time. There is coming a day when there will be a harvest. The harvesting of the wheat could come at any moment. Nothing is left to happen before the coming of The Lord. One day He will call us home.

John 14:2, 3 (Jesus speaking)
2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Good and evil will flourish until the harvest. Some have said that good is going to overtake evil. There’s no chance. We’re losing ground. The weeds and thorns seem to be growing faster than the wheat. Have you noticed?

But there is going to be a continually growing together. Now that we’ve tried to understand the meaning of this Parable, what does that mean to us? As I look over the Parable, there are three things that The Lord seems to speak to my heart.

I cannot help but think: What is the importance of the place that I occupy in the field? The Lord has sown His seed in this field, so how did I get where I am? God put me here. He sowed me here. I am a seed in the hands of God. So, I am to bloom where I have been planted.

How did you get where you are? God planted you there. God sows His children throughout the world. Sometimes God plants His children in a place where there is only darnel wheat (tares). He put some in the business world and He says, “Here is where you belong.”

I think of the impossibility of changing the world. I heard a minister say, “God didn’t call me to clean up the pond; He called me to fish out of the pond.” God has called us to preach the Gospel to every creature, and in the midst of the world, we are to be a redemptive influence for Jesus Christ.

Sometimes I get so burdened when I see the false wheat growing and the influence that it has on everyone around, especially our youth. We should never live a day without a burden for the lost.

You know the greatest thing God can ever do is to clean up the inside of a man’s heart and cause him to change. It is a personal matter; then that person can have an influence on someone else. Understand the field is the world, not the church.

The third thing to think about: not only my place in the world, where I’ve been sown, not only the impossibility of changing the world, but I learned that there is an invitation to tares to become wheat, and this is where the Parable breaks down, because darnel wheat could never become genuine wheat, but you and I know that tares do become wheat.

In the church, we cannot read anyone’s heart but our own, but Jesus tells us that if one is right with The Lord, there will be fruit in his live, some way or the other. The joy of reading and understanding this Parable is that God can change the tares, children of the devil, to wheat – genuine stuff!

Max Lucado:
“Think for a moment of your heart as a greenhouse and your heart, like a greenhouse has to be managed. Consider for a moment your thoughts as seed. Some thoughts become flowers; others become weeds.

If we sow seeds of hope, we will enjoy optimism, but if we sow seeds of doubt, we can expect insecurity. Ever wonder why some people have such a sour outlook on life, such a gloomy attitude? You would, too, if your heart were a greenhouse of weeds and thorns. “

Author: Nannie Mae Jordan   (Transcribed by Joyce Carter   Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)

 

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