The Parable of the Wheat and Tares Matthew 13:24-30
FOLLOW ALONG WITH FULL TRANSCRIPT…
In the process of discussing the parables of Matthew chapter 13, depending on how you divide it up, there are seven or eight parables in this particular chapter. We don’t need to spend a lot of time reviewing because we’re in a section of Matthew that stands on its own two feet. What I mean by that is that these parables are not really built on the ones that go before, so we don’t need to review every time. We can pick up with each parable and still not lose the continuity of the thought.
Let me get this much before you to get you back in the spirit of these particular parables. What is a parable and how do you interpret it? A parable, literally means “to lay alongside for the purpose of comparing”. That’s the idea of a parable. It’s an earthly story, true to life. It didn’t really happen but it could have happened. The fact is that it did happen every day. These are true to life stories with heavenly meanings, with spiritual meanings. In the parables the physical illustrates the spiritual. The Lord Jesus chose true to life stories or true to life events or plants and things that were familiar in common life and He illustrated the profound principles of the spiritual world.
One of the chief principles, in addition to the indispensable principle which I hope you all know is helpless dependence upon the Lord; a principle for all Bible study. But in addition to that there are special principles for certain sections of the Bible; principles on how to interpret prophecy, principles on how to interpret poetry and there is also a principle that is very helpful in understanding the parables. When you study the parables, it’s helpful to find the main point, the chief point of the parable. The details, the facts that are tied in with that are only important as they relate to the chief point. If you get looking for spiritual meanings in all of the details, there is no telling where you are going to end up because some of those details were not designed to give spiritual meaning and you can run all over the place. There is a chief point and all of the details must be interpreted in terms of that main point. The details are just the scenery and just the fabric, just the props. They are the background and glue that holds the story together. Once you see the main point, then the details make sense in terms of that.
I remind you that in Matthew 13 all of the parables, whether you take seven or eight or however many you count, they are all kingdom of heaven parables. I point that out because many people have tried to interpret the parables and they forget that they are kingdom of heaven parables. If you leave that out you’ll miss the parable and you’ll miss it every time. Over and over again in this chapter, “the kingdom of heaven is like,” “the kingdom of heaven is like,” “the kingdom of heaven may be compared to.” He’s talking about the kingdom of heaven and if we don’t relate it to that, then we’ll probably go astray.I’m going to lay in the teaching of these parables, especially the next one and the mustard seed and the dragnet and the leaven and some of those, unbelievable stress on this all important point that we’ve got to get the chief point and it’s got to tie in to the kingdom of heaven, because that’s what He’s talking about. The kingdom of heaven is like these particular things.
Last time we looked at Matthew 13:3-8 with it’s divine interpretation verse 18-23 called the “Parable of the Sower”. The heart of that parable we summarized in the words of Luke 8:18, “Take care how you listen.” That’s the message of that parable. That parable which we call “The Parable of the Sower” but if you want to get the main point, it’s the “Parable of the Soil”. That’s the real truth of it, because in that parable the Lord likens the human heart to four kinds of soil; the wayside soil, the rocky soil, the thorny soil and the good soil. The main point is that when the Lord gives the truth of the kingdom of heaven, how do you receive it? You are the soil. How does your heart receive that seed? Are you hard and give it no attention? Are you reserved at say, “You can come so far but no further,” and you’ll hit bedrock. Are you compromising and saying, “I’ll received it but conditionally, as long as I can still keep my attention on the world and all of my other cares.”? Or are you whole heartedly unconditionally, unreservedly as the good soil? All of those details tie in with the main point. The main point is, “How do you hear and how do you receive? Your heart is the soil. How does it receive the seed.”
That brings us to the second parable of the kingdom of heaven, so-called the “Parable of the Wheat and Tares”. In a moment I’ll tell you why I say “so-called” the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. This particular parable, unlike some of the others, is only found in Matthew. Mark and Luke don’t mention it. Matthew 13:24-30 with its inspired interpretation. The Lord Jesus interprets the first two parables, in order that we might have principles on how to understand the parables. Its interpretations are in verses 36-43. We’ll begin by reading the text.
Matthew 13:24, “He presented another parable to them saying, ‘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 tares, also, among the wheat and went away. But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also and the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How, then, does it have tares?’ And He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ And the slave said to Him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ He said, ‘No, lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest and in the time of the harvest I’ll say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up, but gather the wheat into My barn.’”
Then verse 36, “Then He left the multitudes and went into the house and His disciples came to Him saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered and said, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man and the field is the world and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom and the tares are the sons of the evil one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil and the harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks and those who commit lawlessness and He’ll cast them into the furnace of fire. In that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then, the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”
The first thing I believe we need to do is identify the chief point of the parable because all of the details must be interpreted in terms of that chief point. There is one main thing that He’s saying here and I believe if we don’t get that main thing, then we’re going to miss some of the points and direction of the parable. Let me remind you again what the kingdom of heaven is. Our full discussion of that is in the Sermon on the Mount. In essence, the heart of it is this; the kingdom of heaven is exactly what it says. It’s how God rules in the place called Heaven. I’m talking about the sky; in heaven where the angels are, the cherubim and seraphim, the spirits of just men and women made perfect. In other words, when you die and go to heaven, reasoning as a man, you are going to see some marvelous things. You are going to behold a kingdom and a place where God rules. God is there and is in the center. The Lamb is there and He’s getting great glory. All the inhabitants in heaven are worshipping with a pure worship. They are adoring Him and enjoying Him and pouring out their adoration at His feet. The beings, the inhabitants in that kingdom of glory do His will with delight and without hesitation. The Bible describes them as bolts of lightning going here and there and everywhere the Spirit wills. They delight to please Him. There’s no sin there and there is no evil there and there is no bad up there and no bias toward anything there that is wrong or unholy; only praise and honor and glory and worship to the Lamb. That’s the kingdom of heaven in the place called heaven.
The Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in His gospel, the good news, made this announcement; that the very principles by which heaven works, and the thing that makes it so easy for the inhabitants of heaven to do the will of God without strain are now available for the earth. You can have the kingdom of heaven on the earth. You can do the will of God with the same enthusiasm and delight and lack of bondage that the angels in the sky do it. The kingdom of heaven on the earth; a little heaven to go to heaven in. And He declared the gospel; the good news of the grace of God. He told His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The same way things are done up there can now be done on the earth. So, you have the kingdom of heaven in the kingdom of earth; on the earth. When God rules your life, that’s the kingdom of heaven on earth.
I call attention to that in order that you might know the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of grace and of spiritual principles and of the principles and axioms and rules by which heaven works and operates. These are kingdom of heaven parables. Whatever this parable means, it’s describing the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is like something. Matthew 13:24; the parable we are about to study begins with the words, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to…” He’s likening something on the earth to some spiritual truth of the kingdom of heaven.
When I began I said that it’s the so-called parable of the wheat and the tares. Let me tell you what I mean by that. Many people interpret this parable that the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a field that is sown with both wheat and tares in the field. There’s good and bad. They are both in the field and they are both growing together until the end of the age. The enemy who sowed the field with tares is the devil, satan. It was a very common form of malice in those days, if you had an enemy who was a farmer and you wanted to destroy his crop, you would wait until night when people sleep and then just sneak in his field and sow it with wild oats or sow it with some other weed. It makes it almost impossible to exterminate the damage that’s done, especially when you use the word that He uses here in this parables; “tares”. The margin of the New American Standard says “darnels”; a weed resembling wheat. One commentary, French, calls it “bastard wheat”. Another calls it “degenerate wheat”. The point is this; in the early stages of wheat and tares, there is no way to distinguish the difference between them. They look alike to the human eye. Their stalks are the same, their leaves are the same and everything about them are the same. But there are two differences.
In Mark 4:28, the wheat is described in three stages, “First the blade and then then the ear and then the full or mature grain in the ear.” First in the blade the wheat and the tares look alike in the blade. Then the ear and the wheat and the tares looks alike in the ear. Then the full grain in the ear and that’s where the tares abort. They don’t give you the full grain; everything right up to the end and then they just peter out. They don’t give the full grain. They were different in that first way because it didn’t bring forth fruit. It failed in the mature grain. Look at verse 26 and you’ll see that, “When the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.” It’s in the grain that they become evident.
Let me quote from Hastings Dictionary of the Bible. (Hastings is an excellent dictionary of the Bible. It might be out of print. You might find one in a used book story. Buy it. It’s in four volumes. I’ve got L-Z. I would love to get A-L) Quoting from Hastings, tares comes under the section I had. “The seeds of the tares are poisonous to men and animals producing sleepiness, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and sometimes death. It was not only indistinguishable to the human eye, those tares were poisonous. If you ate them you died or at least got very sick.
There are those who say, “Isn’t that exactly right? You don’t have to be a theologian; just turn your head around. Isn’t that what the church is like today? There is some true wheat in the church but there is also a lot of darnel, a lot of tares in the church, too. All Christianity is like a confused field, like a big field with wheat in it and tares in it, and no matter which denomination you look at, the field has both tares and wheat. There’s no church that is all wheat. If you find one that is all wheat, don’t join it or it won’t be all wheat anymore. It’s a mixture of good and bad.” So, they say it’s a wonderful parable of wheat and tares and accurately describes Christiandom and describes the churches and accurately describes life as we know it. It’s a field mixed with good and evil.
Now, I would call it the parable of the wheat and tares if the Lord were trying to describe churches or if He was trying to describe Christiandom. I would say, “That’s right. The parable of the wheat is just like Christiandom today, just like the church is today. That’s a good parable; the parable of the wheat and tares.” But listen to what He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” That’s why I’m so determined to get this main point, because in no way is the kingdom of heaven like a field mixed with tares and wheat; in no way. When you understand what the kingdom of heaven is, it is not like a field mixed with tares and wheat. It never was and Jesus never intended it and if you could ever go to heaven for ten minutes, you’d come back and say, “You’re right, Ed. There’s no tares up there. I looked all around and there’s no tares there. There are no imitators up there and there is no poison up there. You are right.”
The tares and the wheat of this parable are the details and they aren’t the point. Because people have made them the point, they have missed the point and they’ve gone astray of the meaning of the parable. That isn’t what it means. If you make the wheat and tares the main point, then it’s true that the kingdom of heaven is just a picture of Christiandom and of the church as we see it with good and bad and true and false in it. But if you take the kingdom of heaven as the Lord Jesus presented it in the Sermon on the Mount, the place where God rules, the pure spiritual principles, the spiritual laws by which heaven is governed, then you’ve got a problem here.
Let me give you what I consider to be the chief point of the so-called parable of the wheat and tares. There’s a principle of Bible study that is so important as you study any part of the Bible. We’ve used it on other occasions. Let me state it for you again. It can be stated in these words, “Read your Bible carefully.” That’s not a deep principle. It’s unbelievable how many problems can be avoided if you read your Bible carefully. I’m going to misread read verse 24 and you follow along as I misread it deliberately, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a field, a mixed field of wheat; an imitation wheat.” Isn’t that what He says; a mixed field? The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a field? Is that what He’s saying? He never said it was compared to a field. Man said that it’s compared to a field; the parable of the wheat and the tares. He is not! The kingdom of heaven is not compared to a field. According to the Bible, it’s compared to a man sowing grain, sowing seed; compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. That’s the kingdom of heaven. According to verse 38, the field is the world and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom. The mixed field is not the Lord Jesus’ illustration of the kingdom of heaven. Those are the details that lend color and flavor to the story. Verse 24, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.”
If we really went through these parables I think that out of the eight of them we’d have to rename six of them. The one we did last week was not the parable of the sower. It was the parable of the soil. This is the parable of the sower. The kingdom of heaven is compared to a man who sowed. This is the parable of the sower, and so for our own purposes we’ll call this, instead of the parable of the wheat and the tares, the parable of the sower. I realize we’ve heard so much of the other so long that it might sound a little strange but, I’m not trying to be clever or novel but I am trying to get the point across that the Lord Jesus had in mind when He gave this wonderful parable. I hope you can see that I’m not reading this in. In verse 24 I don’t know how He could make it any clearer. He comes right out and tells you what He’s likening the kingdom of heaven to and, of course, we have His own interpretation of that.
The Lord Jesus is the sower and He sows good seed and verse 38 says, “The good seed are the sons of the kingdom.” There is so much teaching in this and the details are going to enforce this main point. Before looking at the details, let me nail down the point that He’s making here. The kingdom of heaven is not like a field but it’s like a man, and not like any man, but the Son of Man; the Lord Jesus Himself, sowing good seed and not doctrine like last week, but the children of the kingdom; the children who have received the doctrine; His own; children of His sowing; children of His planting. They are the sons of the kingdom.
I’d like to interpret the details of this particular parable in the light of that main point: that Jesus is the Sower and He’s the One that plants His children in the field; in the world. The kingdom of heaven is like that. There is no question that the kingdom of heaven is like what Jesus plants. There is no problem with that at all. Then we’ll apply it to life as we go along. As you can imagine, because the Lord Jesus in His explanation as we read, drew nine parallels; the sower is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the sons of the kingdom; the tares are the sons of the evil one; the enemy is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age; the reapers are the angels; the binding and burning is the judgment and the barn is the place of glory – heaven. Because He drew all of those parallels, you can expect there will be many principles and applications to life, and there are but they are all tied into that main point.
Let me give you the two main truths and then I’m going to give you four great principles of life that are illustrated by the details. The two main truths have to do with verse 24 & 37, that the Sower is the Son of Man and verse 25 & 39. Verse 25, “While men were sleeping, His enemy came.” His enemy; whose enemy? The Sower’s enemy. Who is the Sower? It’s the Son of Man. Who is the Son of Man? It’s the Lord Jesus Christ. Who is His enemy? It’s the devil; satan. His enemy came. The whole parable revolves around those two truths. #1 He’s the Sower and #2 the enemy is His enemy; and not the enemy of the wheat. It’s the enemy of the Sower. That’s a BIG difference! It’s His enemy.
Let me drive those two points home and then we’ll get those details. There’s many ways to state it. The Sower is the Son of Man. This summarizes it, Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds a house, they labor in vain that build it.” The Sower is the Son of Man and unless He sows, unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain. Let me bring it down to earth so that we really get the impact of what He’s saying. The Lord Jesus is the Sower. The Lord Jesus is the soul winner. The Lord Jesus is the evangelist. The Lord Jesus is the missionary. The Lord Jesus is the sower. He’s the One that plants good seed; His children on the earth. The kingdom of heaven is made up of the children of His sowing. It’s made up of the children of His planting. The kingdom of heaven is spiritual and is holy and is good and is pure and it’s right.
One of the chief principles of heaven is that it’s God. It’s always God. He starts it, He finishes it and He’s everywhere in between. Everywhere in the whole world where there are sons of the kingdom, it’s because the Son of Man has planted them there. That’s why they are there. That’s the only reason that they are there. It’s always that He has planted. It’s not because some group came up with a good program on how to evangelize the neighborhood. That’s not how they’re sown. The Son of Man is always the Sower. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying He doesn’t use instruments and doesn’t use means. He often does. He uses men and instruments and programs and means but in back of it all the kingdom of heaven is His sowing. This is a principle which is easy to applaud theologically. People would say, “Oh, I agree with you on that. No problem. Of course!” But it’s hard to apply evangelically and practically. Somewhere along the line man has gotten into his head that he, the son of the Son of Man is the sower. We’re not the sowers. He’s the Sower. Somehow we misread, I can’t wait to get to it, the Great Commission. Somehow we misread the Great Commission and we think that He changed things around and now He’s turned the task of evangelism over to His children. He never has and He never will. Any witnessing, any program, any missionary effort, any outreach, whether tape or radio or literature or visitation or teaching or driving or singing or distribution of literature or whatever you do, any ministry that does not allow the Son of Man to be the soul winner will be rooted up. It’s unscriptural and has no legitimate reason for existence. It will be destroyed. It’s amazing to me that it’s easy to accept the doctrine of it and yet, practically, we seem to run sometimes in the other direction.
The second truth is in verse 25, “His enemy came.” The enemy that sowed the tares is called the devil/satan; His enemy. This fact is rooted in the whole Bible. The seed of the serpent is at war with the seed of the woman. It’s always between God and satan. It’s His enemy. In verse 28 the slave of the landowner said to Him, “Do you want us then to go and gather them up?” In verse 29 and 30 He gives His answer, “No.” Verse 30, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest.” And then later, “I will say to the reapers, ‘Don’t gather them up. I have My own spiritual reapers.’” There are many applications to this and we’re going to look at a few but it goes back to this; the devil is the enemy of the Son of Man and only the Son of Man can deal with Him. Nobody else can. It’s not the slaves of the landowner and it’s not the wheat that has to deal with the tares.
Let’s look at some of the details, then, in terms of these two main points; the Sower is the Son of Man and the enemy is His enemy, the devil. The first detail has to do with the clear teaching (and that’s why it’s called the parable of the tares and the wheat because that’s such a big point in this whole story). According to that detail, the teaching is simply this; that the wheat, that is, that which He plants, the kingdom of heaven principles is going to grow side by side with the tares. The mixture is NOT part of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is only the part that He sows; only the work that He does. That fact is that He does His work slowly and He does His work gradually and a lot of the field is sown by the enemy.
Let me give you three illustrations of this horrible mixture of good and bad. You’ll recognize it because it’s true to life. The first is the mixture of the saved and the unsaved. It would be nice if the Lord would just divide the earth into spiritual hemispheres and once you are saved you are thrown over the line and told, “That’s the side you live on,” and all the unsaved, all of the tares are going to live on the other side. That would be good. However, it doesn’t work that way. They are side by side. They grow up together. There’s no fence and no boundary between them. The Christian and the non-Christian grows up side by side; the pure right alongside the vile; the courageous right alongside the coward; the false right next to the truth; the wheat right next to the tares. They grow together. They are all mixed up and confused. As you know, you work with them. They work together, they live in the same neighborhood, they shop in the same stores, they ride on the same buses and some cases they live under the same roof and eat at the same table and sleep in the same bed; the wheat and the tares are mixed up.
It’s not surprising to hear the sinner’s excuse, “I don’t want to go to church. There are hypocrites in the church. Yeah, there are a lot of them. It’s all mixed up but the mixture is more profound than that. Not only is there a mixture among men but the wheat and the tare principle is also in men; a strange mixture. I think every Christian man and woman have recognized (they might not have expressed that way) that in their own Christian lives there is an awful lot that is not of the Lord’s planting. There’s an awful lot that you’ve got to say, “The enemy has done this. This is not of His hand and not of His sowing.” There are other areas of our lives that we grieve over.
I know Lillian when she found me thought that she had found her field of wheat. A few months of married life had shown her that there are a few tares along with the wheat; bitter, harsh, hard and terrible tares and unfruitful. The kingdom of heaven is that part of our life that the Son of Man has sown. That’s the kingdom of heaven part of our life, but the field of our life is not yet all wheat, as you know. Sadly, there’s even a more subtle mixture than that. It’s not bad enough that individuals have to grow side by side, tares and wheat, and it’s not bad enough that in my life there has to be both tares and wheat, but you are going to find that in your individual actions and in your very individual beings you are going to have a strange mixture of tares and wheat. The action might look like true wheat but then if you go down a little bit and get to the spirit of it and the motive of it, you begin to ask yourself, “I wonder if this is really wheat and is of the Lord’s sowing? I wonder if looking at the motive there is not some self-indulgence here; a little bit of pride, ego. So, that detail of the mixture takes on a lot of meaning but it doesn’t take away the big point. The wheat is what the Son of Man has done in our life. He’s doing much but it’s gradual and it’s not all done and there’s an awful lot of tares in our lives.
The second detail has to do with the command that the Lord gave to the slave, the workers, concerning the tares. Verse 28, “He said, ‘An enemy has done this.” The slaves said, ‘Do you want us to, then, to go and gather them up?’ And He said, ‘No, less while you are gathering up the tares you might root up the wheat with them. Allow both to grow until the harvest.’” In the light of the truth that the kingdom of heaven is like the Lord Jesus sowing good seed, how do you explain this detail of our responsibility? The responsibility as it’s expressed to these slaves of the landowner are twofold. They are stated negatively and positively.
Let me give you the negative statement first. The negative statement can be summarized in this word, verse 29, “No. Let the tares alone. Don’t try to gather them up. They are His enemy and He’ll deal with them.” It’s not our responsibility ever to deal with the tares. That’s an amazing thing. It is not our responsibility every to deal with the tares. Church history is filled with blood. When the church decided it was going to rid itself of the tares, terrible things the church did to get rid of evil. It sounds good and it sounds chivalric and it sounds courageous and sounds bold. “Lord, you’ve got an enemy there? Do you want me to take care of them?” So said Peter as he drew out his sword against Rome; the fisherman against Rome, “I’ll help you, Lord. I’ll defend you.” One of the most neglected truths, a very neglected truth, is that Christians can’t get their hands off the tares. They are constantly trying to uproot. So many make it their mission to rid the world of tares. It expresses itself in many ways. “We are wheat, are we not? Let’s march. We’ve got to march against this evil. Tares are sneaking in and corrupting our family and our children. We’ve got to march against this group and that group, against this book and that book, against this man and that man. We’ve got to get rid of them. “Listen, I have a group of petitions here and I’m going to pass them out and I want you to sign them and send them to your congressmen and to your representatives. We’ve got to get rid of these tares. We’ve got to get rid of this evil. Maybe we can boycott. If all the Christians would get together and we are a moral majority, you know, no slam intended there, we can make an impact on the world and we can do something, if we work together; if all the wheat gets together. Jesus simply says, “No, less while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them.”
The problem is that some tares look like wheat. The other side is that some wheat look like tares. We don’t have the insight and we don’t know how to discriminate. We’ve used man’s measurements so long that we’ve come to believe that they are accurate, and they are not accurate. They came out of man’s head. We hold up a ruler and say, “I can tell if you are wheat. I know how. Do you go to church all the time? Do you make all the meetings? Are you all involved? Do you go to prayer meeting? Do you memorize scripture? Do you get up early? Do you witness? Do you share the gospel? You are wheat. If you are outside the walls of the local church, if you miss the meetings, if you hold a quiet faith or take a rugged stand against some tradition, then you are not wheat,” so they judge.
I was reading a book today by Lloyd Ogleby he has written on parables and he talks about false standards of judgment and about outside insiders and inside outsiders and inside insiders. He says that some may be on the inside of the church and outside of the grace of God. And there may be some on the outside of the church and very much inside of the grace of God. Of course, he appeals to inside insiders. He’d like them inside the walls of the church and inside the grace of God but the point is this; don’t deal with the tares because you might hurt some dear child of God because some of the tares look like wheat and the wheat look like tares. They are His enemies. We do not need to study cults. We do not need to fight error. We do not need to know what all of these false teachers believe. We don’t need that.
“Well, you don’t know what is going on in the schools today. We’ve got to get rid of those tares and we have to take a rugged stand. We’re Christians, you know. I’ve got to fight witches and demons and devils and fight drugs and I’ve got to fight socialism and I’ve got to fight slavery and all of these isms and poverty and communism. I’ve got to.” Leave the tares alone. Jesus said, “I’ll take care of them.” He’ll do something about that. Don’t you worry about that. Faith is patient. God has reasons, good reasons. Do you know that it’s for the good of the wheat that the tares grow side by side with them? If I were to ask you some of the greatest blessings in your life, you’d probably not mention the tares. And yet if all of the record were in, I think we’ll all be praising God for the tares He has allowed in our lives.
I think Saul made David a better man. I really do. I think those three counselors that Job had, that he called, “miserable counselors”, were tremendous weapons for good in his life. I think Joseph’s brothers were some of the greatest benedictions that Joseph ever had. How they crowded him to Christ. David wouldn’t have been David without Goliath. Blessed tares; blessed darnel! It’s also for the good of the tares. God is patient and long suffering and not willing that any should perish. The presence of the wheat in the midst of the tares is a constant object lesson and invitation of God to draw them unto Himself in reality. It sounds so paradoxical. The remedy for the evil that satan sows, let it alone. And yet that’s the teaching, not only of this parable. You would be hard pressed to find anything else in the whole Bible. That’s what He says. Leave it alone. That’s the negative statement of our responsibility. Don’t touch the tares. There will be a day when the angels of God will discriminate between them and the true wheat.
Meanwhile we have much to do. Not sowing because that’s the Son of Man’s job. Not fighting the tares and not fighting the devil because that’s the Son of Man’s job. Then what are we supposed to do positively? Verse 30, “Grow.” That’s what He said, “Grow together until then. Just keep on growing and growing and don’t touch the tares. Leave them alone and just grow and grow and grow.” “How long do I have to grow?” “Until the harvest.” When you are all done with that, that’s your whole Christian life. Don’t touch the tares. Just grow and grow and grow and grow until the harvest.
This parable, as I understand it, is full of hope. If you miss the main point, you miss everything. The expression in verse 30, “until the harvest”, is a wonderful word. It teaches us that the Lord deals with us very slowly. He’s not finished with His planting in our lives. He’s not finished with His sowing. He deals gradually. The day is coming when the wheat will triumph. The day is coming when the tares will be separated from the wheat. It’s not here yet. Now they are altogether but because we know that truth is going to triumph and the wheat is going to win, we don’t have to compromise with the tares along the way. The devil is going to lose. I’m not about to surrender to someone who is going to surrender tomorrow. You don’t have to surrender to the tares because you are going to win.
Some people want instant results. “Lord, I want patience and I want it now. I want to be perfected. Lord, I’m giving myself to you and with a sudden flash and shock I want you to perfect me.” That’s noble because it comes from a heart’s cry, “Lord, I hate these tares. I want them dealt with and I don’t know what to do because they are awful and they are ugly and they are poison and they are hurting me and my testimony and they are bringing reproach on the name of Christ. They are robbing you, Lord, of your reputation on the earth. I can’t stand these tares.”
Sometimes, because of our impatience, to wait until the harvest, we fall into one of two errors. Either we like to feel spiritual and that we’re more wheat than tares, so we lower the standard and we say, “This is my life and God, and we agree,” and we bring God’s standard down to our experience. Or most probably on the other side, because we’re more realistic and we see we are not more wheat than tare and we’re more tare than wheat, and we look at the standard and it seems so high and impossible and out of sight, then sometimes we hold in suspicion whether or not we are of the Lord’s planting in the first place and whether or not the Son of Man has ever sown anything in our hearts. We begin to give up in despair and throw in the towel. But He says, “Just grow. Just be patient. Just wait. Just grow until the harvest because the responsibility of the wheat is on God. It’s not on man. It’s on the Son of Man and He’s the One responsible for the wheat. So, just grow until the harvest. Don’t be impatient. The day of discrimination will come when he’ll discriminate between the wheat and the tares. He’ll do His job and He’ll do it well.
The third principle comes from the fact… Look at verse 26 and these facts about the harvest. It says, “Bore grain.” Verse 30, “Until harvest,” “at the time of harvest.” Verse 39, “The harvest is the end of the age.” Verse 40, “The end of the age.” Verse 43, “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to ear, let him hear.” According to verse 26 the tares are distinguished from the wheat in the day of fruit. Of course, when it comes time for the full fruit, it’s called the harvest. The Spirit of God refers to the end of the age; the ultimate day of fruit; the harvest. Verse 43 describes the wheat in the day of fruit. What are you going to look like in the day of fruit? “Then the righteous will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” That’s what you are going to look like on the day in the day of fruit.
Watch; here is the principle. It’s true that time will be the basis for the discrimination between the tares and the wheat. In the process of time, in the day of harvest, in the day of fruit you’ll be able to tell the difference. There’s a principle as well as a fact. The harvest is not only down the road but there are many harvests on the way to the harvest. There are many days of fruit. There are many opportunities when the wheat can be as the righteous and shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. These are the principles of the kingdom of heaven.
I was reading an old Methodist preacher describing satan as a squatter; a man who settles on land to which he has no right and then he works it out for his own advantage. He’s a counterfeiter. He likes to imitate the wheat; the Lord’s children. This principle will have its full application in the end of the age but verse 26 gives it as a present life principle; the tares become evident in the day of fruit. Let me illustrate. All through the Bible you are going to find that truth that fruit is the evidence of real wheat. “By their fruit you shall know them.” Let me give some illustrations.
One of satan’s chief tools, of course, is to imitate the real. He’s the ape of God and he likes to imitate. The tares, the unreal, the bastard wheat, they know how to do the things that the wheat does. They have everything but the fruit. They know how to sing and they know how to pray and they know how to preach and they know how to warn and they know how to exhort and they know how to weep. They know their Bibles and they are sometimes very faithful in attendance. They are orthodox in their statements and in their creeds. You can find them in the prayer groups and you can find them in the choirs and you can find them at the Lord’s Table and you can find them behind the pulpits. The tares are everywhere. They always look like wheat, until the day of fruit; until the day that it is required that there be some fruit. Then, it’s a dead giveaway.
You’ll know the wheat from the tares in a moment. You let a tare get hit by a storm. Let’s say a member of his family is struck down with a disease of some kind or a tragedy or an accident or if they are brought to poverty, it’s the time of harvest; now is the time of fruit and now is the time to see if you are real or not real. Now is the time to see if the wheat can not only have the blade and the ear but the full corn in the ear. In the times of pressure the wheat will come forth as the righteous and they will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. In the day of fruit, in the day that it is required, that’s when you’ll see the difference between them. The wheat is seen in all the harvests of life. Every time there is a call for fruit you’ll be able to tell the wheat from the tares when the fruit of forgiveness is required; when the fruit of love is required; when the fruit of longsuffering and patience is required; when the fruit of faith is required. It just bows its head and says, “Thank you, Lord. I don’t understand why and it doesn’t matter. You’ve allowed this in my life.” The fruit of supernatural joy in the midst of outward disaster and calamity. That’s the day of harvest and day of fruit. The Christian shines like the sun in the kingdom of his Father. They might look alike for a while but let there be a call for fruit and that’s when the wheat gets promoted and the tare gets a promotion.
You watch the difference in the humility and the pride and you watch when the wheat gets enriched without covetousness. It’s a marvelous thing to see the fruit of the wheat. You watch when the wheat are slandered. In the day of harvest and fruit, when you have to turn the other cheek and you have to go the second mile, when you have to return good for evil or when someone asks for your coat and you have to give them your cloak, also, that’s when you’ll see the real. That’s another illustration of a principle. There’s mixture. Our responsibility is simple; leave the tares alone and grow until the harvest. The revelation of fruit is going to be the distinguishing feature.
There’s one other detail. Let me give it as a fact and we’ll state it as a principle. Verse 30, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles and burn them up. But gather the wheat into My barn.” Verse 39, “And the enemy that sowed them was the devil and the harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age the Son of Man will send forth His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire in that place where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
It’s a great warning that a judgment is coming and no tare will escape it; no tare outside the kingdom, no tare growing up with the wheat. The best way to state this principle is to use the words of Matthew 15:13, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted out.” Isn’t that some kind of a verse? Every plant which my heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted out. That will be true for the unsaved, those resembling the true, but it’s also a great principle in our lives. The Son of Man is the Sower and whatever you know of the kingdom of heaven at this point in your life is because He planted it there. And whatever I know of the kingdom of heaven at this point in my life is because He planted it there. Everything else will be rooted up. Whatever your heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up. There will be a day…
I’m not afraid of that fire anymore. I used to fear the judgment seat of Christ. I used to view that with terror; the idea of standing there with a fire and wood, hay and stubble. I’m not afraid of that anymore because there is a glory side to it. There is a day coming when anything I’ve ever done or said to dishonor my Lord Jesus will be burned up in smoke. I can’t wait for the fire. I can’t wait for the day when it’s all rooted up and there is nothing left and the righteous will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their fire. There’s warning and there’s blessing in that truth of “whatever my Father has not planted shall be rooted up.”
The warning is especially true who get involved in Christian service. I’m not trying to discourage you from Christian service. I am trying to encourage you to cooperate with the Lord and make sure He is the sower because every Christian service that the Lord has not planted shall be rooted up and every ministry that the Lord has not planted…. There’s an awful lot in our lives, I think, that is not there by the Lord’s good planting. It’s full of self and pride and man and flesh. An enemy has done this but it will all be rooted up some day. Meanwhile, don’t worry about it. I’m not telling you to live sloppily and slipshod. I’m just saying to not worry about it. Leave the tares alone and grow… until the harvest. And the Son of Man will continue His sowing in your life. The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in His field. The seeds are the sons of the kingdom and the man who sowed it is the Son of Man.
Our Father, we do thank You for this marvelous parable, not for our weak understanding of it, but for all that You know that it means. Instruct and teach us in Your ways. Meet us where we are and take us to the place You would have us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.