Parables: Discerning Wheat and Weeds

Parable - Discerning Wheat and weedsRead Matthew 13:24 – 30

I love when Jesus explains the parable He just told, and in this case, He does just that.

Matthew 13:36 – 43 NKJV.

This is a powerful parable. It is a truth seldom people want to hear. In the parable of the Wheat and the tares we see mixed growth: wheat vs. the tares. We can likened it to mixed character in the church or in this world and absolute separation of all people into two classes

Will everyone who attends Hope Fellowship make it? I would like to think that if the rapture occurred on a Sunday morning during our service, that the room would be completely emptied, but according to this parable that would be highly unlikely.

Tares: “an injurious weed resembling wheat when young” (Matt. 13:24–30) []]

The word translated “tares” in the King James Version is ζιζάνια (zizania), plural of ζιζάνιον (zizanion). This word is thought to mean darnel (Lolium temulentum), a ryegrass which looks much like wheat in its early stages of growth.

Roman law prohibited sowing darnel among the wheat of an enemy, suggesting that the scenario presented here is realistic. Many translations use “weeds” instead of “tares”.

Similar metaphors are wheat and chaff, replacing (growing) tares by (waste) chaff, and in other places in the Bible “wicked ones” are likened to chaff.

Tares look like wheat, but tares hinder the wheat. It makes for a lush look at harvest time but there is no fruit in a tare. They are weeds.

This parable and message is not an easy one, in fact this is a wake up call for everyone to see where they stand, either being a Wheat or a weed. We have to discern our own spiritual condition today hearing this parable.

We can go to church and sing the songs and even give in the offering but that doesn’t get you to heaven. It is a heart condition and a lifestyle, I believe, that will differentiate you from being wheat or weeds.

In the Parable of the Sower we looked at previous to this parable, the seed is the Word of God.

Luke 8:11 NKJV
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Those who received that word into their hearts and proved it to be the transforming Word, are now “children of the kingdom.”

James 1:18 NKJV
Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.

This parable presents the problem of evil. The fact of the mingling of the evil with the good is a condition of things confronting us in all levels of society, all forms of government, in the home and in the church. No matter how we separate or look at it, seeds of corruption seem to find their home and grow to huge weeds in good fields.

The real and the counterfeit are ever with us. Good and evil are inextricably interwoven in our society.

In the Parable of the soils, there was one sower, one kind of seed, and several results. In the Parable of the Tares and Wheat there are two sowers, two kinds of seed, and two harvests: one good, and the other bad. In the first parable there are four kinds of soil; here the forth kind, the good soil is before us.

The Parable of the Tares (Weeds) and the Wheat

1. The Field.

Why does the field yield both wheat and tares? Some Bible commentaries have assumed because of the reference to “wheat” that our Lord taught the field to represent the Church or Christendom. It shows that the church today is an imperfect body. Jesus taught that the field is the world — His field.

Matthew 13:38 NKJV
The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.

It is safe to say the field is the world, and also the church. We can not deny that within the church or in the church as a whole, there are tares and wheat. We, as the church, need to be aware and wake up to this fact. Some of us will go to heaven and some will not. This is a hard saying. Also, the church is a light in this world. We have to shine brightly for the world to see the way. How brightly are you shinning for God’s Kingdom?

Note the expressions, His field, and Thy field, which assert that the Master is the Owner, Lord, Husbandman of this world of man.

Psalm 24: 1 – 2 NKJV
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.

This field is therefore a world that God loved, and yet the enemy catches away the good seed, and also sows tares.

John 3:16 NKJV
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

I want to have everlasting life! How about you?

2. The Two Sowers.

The audience receiving this further parable is the same as before, namely, the crowd assembled on the shore, as well as the disciples in the boat. To these Jesus described the two sowers so different in character and purpose.

a. The Householder. There was the “man” revealed as the “householder”, and as “the Son of Man” (Matthew 13:24, 27 and 37).

In the previous parable “the sower” stands for all proclaimers of the Gospel, even Jesus Himself. Here, “the sower” is Jesus only. As the Creator, He made man upright, created him in His own likeness, that is, planted within him holy principles and aspirations.

b. His enemy. The other sower is referred to as “his enemy,” or “an enemy,” and “the wicked one,” “The devil” (Matthew 13:25, 28, 38, 39).

Think about it, it was not long before Satan sowed tares in God’s wheat; Adam and Eve. The word Jesus used for His enemy was diabolos, the traducer (to expose to shame or blame by means of falsehood and misrepresentation), the liar, the one who is against all that is true, high and noble. This enemy is Christ’s enemy.

Jesus has always been the object of satan’s hatred. Jesus is the bright and morning star. He is the lily of the valley. He is more precious than anything in heaven or on earth. Satan hates Jesus and all that is good.

Throughout history the trinity of good and the trinity of evil stand opposed to one another:

*Father God and the world:

1 John 2:15 – 17 NKJV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

*The Spirit and the flesh:

Galatians 5:17 NKJV
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

*Christ and Satan

Genesis 3:15 NKJV
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between our seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

In this parable his enemy sowed in a field that was not his. In this world people think it is okay to do what they want, where they want, with whom and what they want to do it with. These are characteristics of Satan. In spite of prevailing evil in the world, it is still Christ’s world and when He returns to it as “the Prince of the kings of the earth,” it will be a purer world in which to live.

The cunning and scheming of the enemy is seen in his action of sowing his tares among the wheat while the servants slept. It wasn’t the fault of the servants who slept. They are not to blame. It was night time and people slept during this time. This really shows the cowardly nature of the devil, in choosing the darkness for his terrible work. Evil is sown secretly, and the enemy loves darkness because he is evil.

3. The Two Products.

The Son of Man sows wheat in His field and “his enemy” sows weeds among the wheat.” The enemy would never think of sowing the wicked among the wicked. He sows the wicked among the good, and the two together constitute Christendom, what are we to understand about the products in this parable?

a. The Tares (Weeds).

The devil’s action was motivated by pure malice, for tares, like weeds, have never been a marketable product. Tares are “darnel,” a seed scarcely distinguishable from wheat seed (and not until it is sprung up can the difference be detected).

Tares are not what we understand by the term but some obnoxious form of plant, or wild corn, and poisonous as food. Tares! The enemy is vigilant and unresting who has so many to sow; tares of fleshly wisdom, of pride, of procrastination, of sin, and the list goes on.

Because it is hard to tell the difference between tares and wheat when they are not mature, this gives us insight into Satan’s subtle working. His method or weapon here is “opposition by imitation.” The bad are sown among the good, and the difference is not always discernible. Many who are not the Lord’s yet resemble those who are: they go to church, pray, read the Bible like Christians, but are, Christless not Christlike.

Sowing tares among wheat is a form of revenge. The object of this revenge was to poison of some of the wheat, and much labor would have to happen to get rid of it. How wicked men become when they give way to revenge.

Tares are the children of the wicked one.

Matthew 13:38 NKJV
The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.

What a difference of nature between the “children of the kingdom” and “children of the wicked one.” The latter do not draw their origin from the wicked one, but many mould their character by his promptings, and are therefore called his children.

John 8:44 NKJV
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

These are the ones whom Satan sows among “the children of the kingdom.”

b. The Wheat.

“The good seed,” “the wheat,” “the children of the kingdom” all these represent the same thing. In the previous parable “the seed” was the word of the kingdom, here. “the good seed” is the product of that precious word received, understood and obeyed, namely, those who through such become “children of the kingdom.”

The Son of Man, as the sower or householder sows only good seed: lives transformed by, and embodying the word of truth. It is the Redeemer’s purpose to sow His redeemed ones in this world of sin and misery in order that there may be fruit for His glory and satisfaction for His travailed soul.

This is why He has sown you where you live and labor. As one bought with a price and born of His Spirit, and a new creation in Him and heir of eternal life, He expects you to bear fruit in the corner of the field of this world, in which he sowed you.

The two questions

The servants of the Householder or the owner of the field asked Him two general questions:

1. “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” (Matthew 13:27b NKJV)

The first question is in two parts, with the first part acknowledging that the field was the Householder’s and that He had done the sowing, and that He had sown only good seed.

The earth is the Lord’s. He also originated and first spread the Gospel, and nothing but the gospel. But the second part of the first question brings us to the deepest of all mysteries namely, the origin of evil and how it continues in the world.

This problem of the parable is as old as the human race. Why was Judas permitted to be counted among the twelve? Why was the early church almost wrecked by false brothers? Why does God allow the sin and sorrow blemishing His world today?

Jesus said, “An enemy has done this.” But why is the enemy so active, after almost two millenniums of Christianity, sowing more tares than ever in God’s field? This is one of the mysteries to be revealed. Christians should be mainly concerned with victory over evil rather than a full explanation of it. One of the main reasons is that the enemy knows his fate. He knows he will not win so he is trying to mess with God’s world and deceive as many people as he can before the end of the age. Don’t let it be you that he deceives.

2. The second question, “Do you want us then to go and gather them up?” (Matthew 13:28b NKJV)

Suggest that the servants were eager to rid the field of its obnoxious weeds at once. The Householder’s reply is in two parts:

First of all, he refers to the growth of the wheat and the darnel. In its unripe condition the wheat and the darnel looked alike, and to try and destroy the one, would be beyond the wisdom of servants.

The Second part of the answer is taken up with the final harvest. “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Not forever will the good seed and the tares be intermingled. The time of separation will come, when angels, and not men, will come, when angels, and not men will secure the wheat and burn the tares.

Mathew 13:39, 41 – 42 NKJV
The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels… The son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The Two Harvests.

Describing the time of harvest, Jesus said that the reapers will be able to distinguish between wheat and tares, and that the separation between them will be effected in this way: “First, gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30b NKJV)

Such a harvest of destruction for the tares/weeds is to take place at “the end of this world.”

The destruction of the tares are to be bound up in bundles. As the gathering together of the tares into bundles takes place in the field, it is interesting to watch how this process of binding the tares into bundles is very fast and speedily.

After the gathering and binding of the weeds, there comes their destruction by fire. The time of such a harvest is appointed a day in which he will judge the world.

Acts 17:31 NKJV
Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

We will be judged for all that we have done. No one will escape it.

As to the time the reapers obey the summons of the Householder to deal with the tares, Jesus said it would be at “the end of the world,” or age – the end of the Gentile age when Christ returns to earth as King and gathers out from His Kingdom all things that cause stumbling. The final judgment upon Satan, evil angels, and all who died outside of Christ.

Let’s look at Matthew 13:40 – 42 NKJV
Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

“Burned in the fire” is a most solemn phrase. As the “tares” symbolize all lost souls, we cannot make light of their future after such a declared fate. Jesus affirmed the utter destruction of the tares.

The “furnace of fire” and “wailing and gnashing of teeth” described the horrors of Hell, and of the final home of the wicked, the Lake of Fire. These words that describe hell are hard to contemplate and absorb.

Trust me it will be a quick thing for those who are not children of God to be thrown into the lake of fire.

The words, “cast” or “thrown” into the lake of fire has a deeper meaning. The flinging expresses indignation, abhorrence and contempt. God has given all of us numerous chances to change our lifestyle and thinking. He has wooed and drawn us with His lovingkindness and some of us are still resisting. When judgement comes, there will be no more mercy and grace. Judgement will happen quickly and speedily.

The “furnace of fire” denotes the fierceness of the torment: the “wailing” signifies the anguish this causes: while “the gnashing of teeth” is a graphic way of expressing the despair of all who go there.

Matthew 8:12 NKJV
But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

They will be castaways with no one to rescue them because the judgement has come.

The doom of the wicked will be fearful!

Revelation 20:11 NKJV
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

What Jesus said about the bundles burning was not words to a parable but a solemn revelation and declaration of fate.

Hebrews 2:1 – 3 NKJV
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

But what a different harvest that waits the wheat, which is to be gathered into the divine barn. There will be no tares in that barn, just as there will be no wheat in the furnace of fire.

The question is, When will the gathering of the wheat of the Son of Man take place? When Jesus returns to the air then there will be gathered out all His wheat from the field of this world. What a gathering of the ransomed that will be!!!

1 Thessalonians 4:15 – 17 NKJV
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Is not His Father’s House the Barn He will gather us into?

John 14:1 – 3 NKJV
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

God’s chosen are gathered from the four winds are to be where He is!

Matthew 24:30 – 31 NKJV
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

What a glorious destination awaits the righteous, who are to shine as the stars forever. Exaltation and blessedness are to be theirs throughout eternity!

Matthew 13:43 NKJV
Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

They have been called to God’s eternal glory in Christ!

1 Peter 5:10 NKJV
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

A ravishing prospect is the portion of all who have been saved by grace.

Daniel 12:1 – 3 NKJV
At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.

2 Timothy 2:12 NKJV
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.

There is a further thought to stress as we come to the conclusion of looking at the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, namely, we still live in an age of grace when tares can become wheat, or sinners can become righteous. The parable doesn’t say there can’t be a change for those tares. By Jesus’ power the enemy can be defeated, and his enemies slaves made into God’s servants. Children of the devil, they can yet become children of the Kingdom, and thus be saved from the final, terrible judgment of the wicked.

Counterfeit members in the Church can be changed into genuine and profitable members. We have to remember that we are wheat and will be sifted by Satan. Jesus told Peter that he was wheat and that as such he was to be sifted by Satan, and that in the sifting the chaff, or tares, would disappear.

Luke 22:31 – 33 NKJV
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Let’s search the field of our heart and see whether the enemy has sown any tares in it. The more the Lord has of our heart, the less the devil will have. Today, turn from any worldly way of thinking and give your life fully over to Jesus. Walk in His ways and stay close to Him. Don’t be one of the tares at the end that will be bundled up and thrown into the furnace of fire for eternity!

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils

Resources: Pastor Kris Belfils and Herbert Lockyer “All the Parables of the Bible”


2 thoughts on “Parables: Discerning Wheat and Weeds

  1. Pingback: End Times Apostasy: Storm Warning for the Churches | End Times Prophecy Report

  2. That was an excellent read! As I look at the difference between religion & relationship based on the words of Jesus “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and do many miracles in your name……” Help us all Lord, have mercy!

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