Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
An interesting transformation of perspective took place as I was preparing this message on The Wheat and The Tares. It often happens that as I am studying a certain topic that The Lord will come in and throw me a curve ball and upend my perceived notion of that topic and will cause me to see it from a completely different viewpoint. I call these “epiphany moments.” It is a glimpse into what Jesus called, “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”
I chose this parable because (as one who is called a shepherd) I thought it would allow me to sound the warning that deceivers and wolves are allowed to remain in the church until Christ’s return and as believers, we need to be prepared to do battle. While I believe this is partly what Jesus was addressing in this parable, there is a broader view that is sometimes missed. The picture that God gave me through this parable is a hopeful picture…one that should leave us all with a renewed sense of purpose as we dwell among the tares in this world.
Read Matthew 13:24-30 & 36-43
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (found 61 times in the gospels)
(all the parables in this context are describing and aspect of the Kingdom)
It is important to establish the meaning of this term in order for us to fully understand this parable.
Scripture teaches that the term “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God” is divided into two distinct categories as noted in the Evangelical Dictionary of the Bible:
The Future Kingdom view is seen in The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2), in which we are encouraged to pray “Thy Kingdom come.” Jesus also noted that the Kingdom was future when he told his disciples (Mark 14:25) that He was looking forward to, “that day when (He) would drink anew in the Kingdom of God.” There are also many passages that associate the coming Kingdom of God with final judgment, which is still future.
The Present Kingdom is also found in scripture.
John the Baptist proclaimed (Matthew 3:2) “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” He was clearly pointing to Jesus soon arrival on the scene, making him (John) the bridge between the old and the new era described by Jesus in Luke 16:16, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the Kingdom of God is being preached.” Finally, Jesus pointed to His ability to “cast out demons by the Spirit of God,” as proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon His generation (Matthew 12:28).
Christ’s entrance brought with it the Kingdom Age. According to Fausset’s Word Study, this “Kingdom” can be described as “The Messiah’s kingdom, as a whole both in its’ present spiritual invisible phase, the gospel dispensation (time period), and also in its’ future manifestation on earth in glory, when finally heaven and earth shall be joined.
The kingdom here and now is in its’ present invisible phase.
The future kingdom that will be ushered in by the Second Coming will be a visible and tangible one!!
Jesus is addressing the present invisible phase of the Kingdom in this parable.
THE FIELD-The World (vs 38)
The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Everything in the world belongs to The Lord and as the rightful owner, He has authority over all that takes place in His field.
GOOD SEEDS-Sons of the Kingdom sown by The Son of Man (vs 37)
This is a picture of the Church-Capital “C” universal, in the world. This is not the “organized church,” but the “true church” that is made up of true believers, irrespective of any denomination (J. Vernon McGee). The good seed is a picture of true believers that are dispersed across the field of this entire world.
As we saw in the parable of the sower, only the seed planted in the “good ground (of) those who heard the word with a noble and good heart…and who keep it and bear fruit with patience,” (Luke 8:15) are the Sons of the Kingdom.”
Our “son-ship” is not realized at a future date or time….we are daughters of the kingdom here and now, in the invisible kingdom and we have a role to play in the world, even amongst the tares.
Paul calls us “ambassadors for Christ…God pleading through us…that we would implore others on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2Corinthians 5:17)
Barbara Rainey-an ambassador is one who temporarily settles in a foreign land as a representative of another country. One who seeks to understand the culture and yet is not allowed to assimilate into that culture, but to represent the interests and communicate the message of the country he/she represents. We are to be about the business of adding to the Kingdom.
TARES-Sons of the wicked one sown by the devil
1 John 5:19 We know that we (good seeds) are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
All those who are not true followers of Christ are sons of the wicked one. There are only two camps…there is no neutral ground.
As we see in verse 41, these sons of the wicked one are described as “those who offend, and those who practice lawlessness.”
Again, let me remind you that the picture Christ is giving us here is not of the infiltration by the enemy in the organized church, although we know from scripture that there will be many imposters that claim to be authentic. Jesus said (Matthew 7:21-23), “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of God….He goes on to say, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers.’”
There is much in scripture that instructs us how to deal with those thatoffend (stumble others) and those who are in a habitual state of sin within the church. The apostles themselves often dealt with heresy and sinful behavior in the church at its infancy. Paul’s two letters to the church at Corinth are a perfect example of how we are to address the issues of offences and lawless behavior in order to root it out. This is mandated by scripture. And yes, oftentimes time must elapse in order for the fruit to be seen in order to determine if, in fact, it will poison the church body. Certainly, there are imposters who will secretly bring in destructive heresies that may go undetected (2Peter 2:1-2), but if you look at the parable, notice that the servants of the Lord can clearly see that the tares have been sown.
The evil sower is Satan himself, the ruler of this world, the spirit of Antichrist, who will do everything in his power to choke out and poison the Gospel of the Kingdom that has been entrusted to the sons of the Kingdom.
1 John 4:1-3
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
Bible notes-Tares closely resemble wheat, but are poisonous to human beings. They are undistinguishable from wheat until the final fruit appears.
The irony here is that those who are under the influence of the evil one consider the message of the gospel to be poisonous.
Friedrich Neitzsche, the nineteenth century atheist philosopher (who greatly influenced Adolf Hitler), coined the phrase, “God is dead,” likened Christianity to poison that has infected the whole world.
In his book entitled The Antichrist, he writes:
“I condemn Christianity. It is to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruptions; it seeks to work the ultimate corruption, nothing is untouched by its depravity; it had turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseness of soul.”
This is truly the spirit of Antichrist…and he is unapologetic about it. Through these types of false prophets that John foresaw, many are being poisoned.
Why does Jesus prohibit His servants from rooting out the tares from his field?
28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' 29 But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest,
This truth is a source of frustration for many followers of Christ…we are often like the servants in this parable, desirous to root them out or “call down fire from Heaven,” like the apostles wanted to do when we encounter those that reject Christ.
54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?"
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them ."
I believe that God allows the wheat and the tares to intermingle together and live together in necessary association within the field of the world because our presence here is the means by which judgment is delayed.
Abraham asked God, when he was made aware that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were soon to be destroyed, “Would You destroy the righteous with the wicked?” Jesus answers Abraham’s question in this parable.
It is the very presence of the sons of the kingdom on the earth that is the evidence of the mercy of God. We are holding back the tide of judgment that will come upon the whole world.
It is delayed because the wheat is in the field and it is growing and bearing fruit.
Notice Jesus’ prayer for His followers before He went to the cross:
John 17:10-11 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
John 17:14-18 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Jesus’ reminder is that, no matter how much we see the tares multiplying and ripening, they will never prevail against the wheat!!
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
The conquest of Canaan by the Israelites was delayed until the “iniquity of the Amorites” was complete. This is a picture of the “ripening of evil” that God patiently endures so that He will not be seen as unjust or unmerciful. And just as He sent the prophets of old to warn of judgment over and over, He sends us to warn that Jesus is coming soon and will judge the secrets of men’s hearts.
The righteous and the wicked are ripening together and there are many blades in the field that have not yet progressed enough for anyone to see what they shall be. There are multitudes in “the Valley of Decision” and we must be about the business to bring lost souls into the Kingdom of Heaven before the Day of Judgment comes…when the ripening is complete.
It is the “sons of the Kingdom” that restrain the power of darkness that seeks to overtake the entire world. It is the Holy Spirit that indwells every true believer that is holding back the tide of evil that the devil wishes to use to overtake to entire earth. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 For the mystery of lawlessness (ripening of the tares) is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
See yourself not as one who would desire to root out the tares, but as one who is, by your presence in the world, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, are restraining the lawlessness that is coming upon the whole earth that will usher in the Final Harvest.
J. Vernon McGee commentary on this parable-“I know that my business is not to pull up the tares but to sow the wheat!”
Our responsibility-to abide in Christ so our fruit will overpower the tares and sow the seed of the Word of God into God’s field until the harvest!!
Question: What are some of the ways in which you can make sure your fruit is ripening for the harvest?
Question: What are some of the ways you can be an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven?
Question: How can you fulfill the command to be salt and light?