May 7, 2023

What Did Jesus Mean When He Told The Parable Of The Wheat And The Tares? The Enemy Who Sowed The Tares Is The Devil, The Harvest Is The End Of The Age, And The Reapers Are The Angels.

I added the pictures above to the message I shared below.

Matthew 13:24-30
[source: David C. Grabbe]

Jesus defines His symbols to His disciples (Matthew 13:38). The field, He says, is “the world.” While there can still be an application of this parable to the church, Jesus' immediate audience was “great multitudes” (Matthew 13:2, 34, 36), and the scope was “the world,” rather than the limited assembly of called-out ones.

Jesus defines the tares as “the sons of the wicked one.” While it is common to interpret this parable and its players strictly in terms of the church, consider that both God and Satan have had “sons” from the very beginning, long before the founding of the church. Abel lived by faith, but Cain, the first murderer, bore the spiritual image of his father, Satan (see John 8:44). Seth likewise was of the “good seed,” as were Enoch, Noah, and others. God planted in the world all these righteous men, who had to contend with the sons of the Adversary.

The parables in Matthew 13 come after a verbal altercation with the Pharisees in which Jesus calls them a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 12:34), indicating they were offspring of the serpent—sons of Satan—because they bore his spiritual image. John the Baptist also dubs the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” implying they will be burned like the tares (Matthew 3:7-12). In John 8:44, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they were of their father the Devil, just another way of saying “sons of the wicked one.” He uses parallel imagery in Matthew 15:13, again regarding the Pharisees: “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.”

Jesus says that “while men slept,” the “enemy came and sowed tares” (Matthew 13:25). The Bible often uses sleep as a symbol of obliviousness, non-awareness, or inattention. As such, it is frequently a negative symbol, often coinciding with lethargy, apathy, and letting down in one's duties (see Proverbs 6:4-10; 24:30-34).

Within Israel, God appointed watchmen who were not merely to keep an eye out for approaching armies but were also to monitor the nation's moral condition (see Isaiah 56:10-11). Those who should have sounded the alarm about the problems creeping into the nation before the captivity were—as we would say—asleep at the switch! Focused on their own concerns, they allowed ungodly elements to take root, leading to the nation's spiritual downfall.

Jesus ends the parable's explanation with, “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:43). Similarly, Daniel 12:3 says the “wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” This glorification is also linked with the “harvest” in John 5:28-30. This end-time harvest is not limited to righteous individuals who lived from AD 31 onward—that is, the church—but includes all who have lived and died by faith, beginning with righteous Abel. As Hebrews 11:40 explains, all the true sons of the Kingdom, planted throughout history, will be made perfect at the same time.

Certainly, this parable can apply within the assembly of believers, for the New Testament is replete with warnings about false teachers and false brethren. Yet the principle is not limited to the church. The Pharisees were “sons of the wicked one”—and thus tares—even before Christ founded His church. The parable warns that not everyone who appears to be under the dominion of God is actually of God. The Pharisees and other leaders defied God's sovereign authority, but He commands His servants to leave Satan's offspring in place until the conclusion of His purpose.
I added the pictures above to the message I shared below.

written by Claude Alexander

Mattthew 13:24-30; 36-43.

Christ gave this parable immediately following the parable of the sower. Notice what He said:

“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.

“‘So the servants of the owner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” 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?”

“‘But he said, “No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’”’” (Matthew 13:24-30)

The parable of the tares and the wheat add some other very important points. And first of all, I think we could say that we learn from the parable of the tares and the wheat that the present age is not only an age of the sowing of the word of God, it is an age of the sowing of the seed of Satan. So that, concurrent with the preaching of the word of God, throughout this age is the message of Satan. He has his seed, and he has his children, just as the Son of Man has his seed and his sons or children

This parable stresses in even greater detail that the conclusion of the age is a separating judgment, and that the end of the age the Son of Man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend. And there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father.

There are other truths that appear also in this parable of the tares and wheat, such as the nature and reality of everlasting punishment, which seems to be very plainly taught here. There is the truth of the coming glory of the saints and the necessity of good and evil in the world until the ultimate time of the new heavens and the new earth..

Let’s turn now to the exposition of the parable itself. Jesus says, the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field . Now that parable opens very simply, and we quickly see the similarity between the parable of the tares among the wheat, and the parable of the soils, for in both of these parables, there is a sower, there is a field, there is seed, and there are harvests.

But there are some differences, too. While in the first, we have four classes of soil, in this second parable we read, simply, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed into his field.” It’s almost as if, the Lord having told us the parable of the four types of soil, in which we have three which represent unbelievers and one that represents believers, he now turns his attention to that which represents believers, eliminating the unbelieving for the moment.

A tare is a plant that commonly grows in fields of grain. And although it looks similar to an edible grain, it isn’t suitable for food. In fact, many feel the specific tare, or weed, referred to in this parable is the darnel, a poisonous weed that is very similar in appearance to wheat.

While growing next to the stalk of wheat, darnel cannot be distinguished from the real wheat. It is not until near the time of harvest, when the wheat comes into ear or sprouts its fruit, that you can discern which of the two is the real item. While growing next to wheat, tares cannot be distinguished from the real wheat. It is not until near the time of harvest that you can discern which of the two is the real item.

Notice how Jesus explained this parable:

“He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 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. The harvest from the good seed will be gathered into barns. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:37-43).

God has a field, defined here as the entire world. There is a divine meaning and purpose being worked out here. God is guiding history and mankind to an end that will fulfill His purpose.

This parable is showing two different works being done in the world. One field. Two sowers. One sows good seed and the other sows weeds and two harvests – the good seed gathered into barns and the evil seed burned. As one of the most misunderstood parables in Scripture, the parable of the wheat and the tares has been frequently quoted, misquoted, and misapplied. Fortunately, Jesus explains the meaning of this parable beginning in verse 36.

It provides understanding as to why there is evil . God plants good seed that becomes His children of the Kingdom. Satan, the wicked one, plants those who are his offspring.

Because the tares and wheat look alike while they are growing, it’s virtually impossible to determine by sight which is which until the heads appear. That is why God tells His servants to let them both grow to harvest when the difference will become apparent. Of course, “The Lord knows who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).'

We do not like to hear a word like judgment. Judgment implies that there are standards, laws and absolutes—both morally and ethically. But God says there is a coming time of judgment that will deal with lawlessness and unrighteousness. The key is that it is God’s judgment, not man’s. That is a wonderful and comforting truth, because God judges in perfect righteousness and in His time.

"'No,' he said. 'When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I'll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.'"

Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, "Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us."

He replied: "The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

Given the size of the crowds reported in today’s passage, tares had to have been present. Some people came not because they loved Jesus and sought His yoke of discipleship. This is evident from Mark 15:6–15, as the crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday quickly turned against Him, and that crowd likely included at least some of the people mentioned in today’s passage. Mark’s description of the crowd in 3:7–10 also indicates the compromised motives of the people. The desire for physical healing drove many of them to the Savior, and while it is not inherently wrong to seek physical healing, there is little evidence that the people in the crowd wanted anything more than that. They were not coming to Jesus to learn from Him or to serve His kingdom but rather to see what they could get from Him. Mark 1:45 offers confirmation of this.

All this cautions us not to measure the spiritual vitality of a group of people by its size. It is not wrong to take the number of people to whom we minister into account, but the number itself tells us nothing about the maturity of the congregation.

The fourth kind of soil, described by Luke in his version of the Parable of the sower describes the soil in which the word of God is planted and in which there is a good heart, that kind of soil represents the believer, and the plant that is planted there springs up and bears fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Different degrees of fruit, but, nevertheless, good soil. Good soil is the soil that is responsive to the word of God, and represents the true believer, in whom the word of God planted, grows and reaches its maturity and brings forth fruit. The Lord Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And so if there is no fruit, there is no assurance that life is there.

There is one other thing I want you to notice in verse 24, before we move on. He says the kingdom of heaven is likened unto. Now we must not think that He is trying to compare the kingdom simply to the sower, but the whole parable is designed to stress spiritual truth. In other words, the parables are not intended to be definitions of the kingdom, but are designed to be descriptions of various aspects of the kingdom. They are camera shots, so to speak, each from a different angle. And some of these parables give us various aspects of the kingdom of the heavens.

Now we move on to the Satanic activity described in verse 24. He says, “But while men slept.” Here is the Satanic activity described, “His enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” So, the evil one, Satan himself, appears again. Now in the first parable, we read that when the seed was cast along the wayside, then the wicked one came and caught away that which was sown in his heart. Here, we find Satan sowing his own seed, but these seed are the wild seed of the tares.

The tares we must understand in order to understand this parable. The word, tare, is a reference to the common bearded darnel. The bearded darnel was a kind of grass. It is the only species of the grass family that has poisonous seeds.

Well, what is the solution of this? Well, in the remainder of the description of the parable the Lord Jesus describes what happens. “When the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the household”—evidently, this man is a very wealthy man, because he has servants and he also employs reapers—“the servants of the household came unto him.”

They come to the owner and they say, “Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from where then does it have the tares?”

Now the owner has no doubt about the cause. He says an enemy hath done this. And they say, well, you want us to go out and gather up all of the tares in order that the wheat may grow? And surprisingly, the owner says “ no, don’t do that. Because if you gather up the tares, you are liable to pull up some of the plants of wheat.” Now this was good farming.

And since the wheat had not reached some of its maturity, then you would be destroying plants that would produce. So it was good farming to let them grow together, because if in the end, you could be sure which was which, then even if you did pull up the tares and you pulled up the wheat with it, since it was the time of the harvest, the wheat would be there and you still would have a great deal of use with the wheat, even if you pulled up the plant. So this was good farming advice.

And the servants were told by the owner of the field, “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest,” and then we’ll talk to the reapers about it. And the reapers are the experts. And the reapers will be able to first gather together the tares and then the wheat and they’ll take the wheat and put the wheat into the barn.

Wisely, the master of the household counseled his zealous workers to allow the wheat and the tares to grow together until the time of the harvest. Although it will be difficult for people to tell the difference between good wheat and false tares, at harvest time those distinctions will become apparent. In the end, the righteous will be harvested and gathered in, while the tares will be burned.

Wheat, which Christ uses to symbolize His true children, has always been a vital, life-giving substance, possessing both nutrition and healing properties. During most of human history, it has most commonly been used for bread, and it has long been called "the staff of life." In contrast, Christ uses the tare to symbolize counterfeits within His church. Tares are weeds opposite to wheat in all their properties other than appearance.

The high value and health properties of wheat are opposite to the common and harmful properties of darnel, yet in Christ's parable the owner of the field allows both to grow together. One reason is because wheat and darnel are exact in their appearances during growth. Both plants are lush green and can be distinguished only when they mature and produce fruit: Wheat berries are large and golden, while darnel berries are small and gray. Thus, if the farmer attempted to uproot the tares before maturity, he would wreak havoc on his wheat.

Let us see some of the characteristics of the tares.

(a) They are pretenders Acts 5:1-3 “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?” The context from Acts 4:32 further evidences that Ananias and Sapphira were members of the Church of Jerusalem, but they were pretenders. In order to fake their spirituality in front of the true believers they acted in concert with them, in this case wanting to appear generous, but they were hypocrites intent on impressing others through deception. Tares are often camouflaged pretenders, who lie and cover-up in order to outwardly come across as spiritual. Again, you will know them by their fruits.

(b) They have a ministry Matt. 7:22-23. Jesus said “ On that day many will say to me ‘ ‘Lord Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then I will declare to them ‘ I never knew you ; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Jesus is speaking here near the end of His Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5–7). Beginning in chapter 7 verse 13, Jesus discourses at length on the subject of true faith vs. false professions, using the technique of contrast and comparison. Verses 13-14 describe two paths on which people walk through life, the broad road that leads to eternal destruction and the narrow path that leads to eternal life.

In verses 15-18, He continues the contrasts of the two types of people by using imagery well known to those in an agrarian culture—sheep and wolves, grapes/figs and thorn bushes/thistles, good trees and bad trees, good fruit and bad fruit. Having established these contrasting ideas in the minds of His hearers, He goes on to apply these truths to the spiritual state of all within His hearing. Jesus presents the two types of people who will come to Him on “that day,” - the day of judgment- the great day fixed by God and unknown to angels and men which will be terrible to some and joyful to others. All will be seeking to enter the kingdom of heaven, but some will be turned away and will react in utter confusion and disappointment as what they thought was their “ticket” to heaven turns out to be worthless. Many will come to Him and say that they prophesied, healed the sick and even cast out demons in His name, and were told by Jesus that they were nothing more than “doers of evil” Matt. 7:23 and “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In contrast, those who will enter heaven will not do so based on their miraculous achievements and accomplishments or supernatural ministries of any sort, but solely on the basis of obedience to the will of God.

But who are these unfortunate people and how can they do miracles unless they are doing them by God’s power? We know several things about them from the text.

One is that some miracles are done by the power of Satan and his demonic host. They are incredibly powerful beings who can manipulate physical elements to their own ends. Consider the power God allowed Satan to use to afflict Job—lightning, wind (possibly a tornado), and boils all over his body (Job 1:16, 19, 2:7). These are certainly miraculous events. Exodus 7 describes the magicians and sorcerers of Egypt whose “secret arts” impressed many, but clearly these were not men of God. In the New Testament, Paul confronted Elymas the Jewish sorcerer and false prophet, calling him a child of the devil, full of all kinds of deceit and trickery (Acts 13:6-11). So we see that not all miracles come from God and not all who perform miracles in the name of Jesus are truly His. He calls them evildoers because the miracles they perform have evil as their source. They are the seeds of Evil. Their fatheris the Devil – Matt: 13: 38-39 . In fact, Jesus warned us to be on guard against their deception as the end times draw near (Matthew 24:24).

Second, there are times when God, in His sovereign will and for His purposes, will empower unbelievers to perform miraculous deeds. The prime example is Judas who, along with the other disciples, preached the gospel, healed the sick, cast out demons, cleansed lepers, and even raised the dead. There is nothing to indicate that Judas didn’t have the same power as the other eleven, although he was never a true disciple of Christ. He was a deceiver and the “son of perdition” (John 17:12). Yet God gave him the power to do miracles for His own glory and to accomplish His will. Yet he was never a believer.

Jesus goes on to describe those who will be able to call upon His name on the Day of Judgment. It will be those who hear His words and put them into practice, the same ones referred to in verse 21 as those who obediently do the will of the Father in heaven. True believers are the good trees that produce good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), the true sheep who look to Christ, depend on Him, commit themselves to Him, trust in Him, and believe on Him for righteousness, salvation, and eternal life. These are the ones who will enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(e) They even title themselves Revelation 2:2‘ "I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; ’Note that the tares at the Church at Ephesus (to whom this passage is addressed) had given themselves the title of apostles. But Jesus sets the record straight: “and they are not.” The Apostle John recording herein what Jesus said to him through an angel (cf. Revelation 1:1) is commending the Ephesians Church for having had the spiritual discernment and courage to deal with tares(cf. 1Timothy 1:20).

Then what about the good seed. What happens to them. They will shine like the “sun in the kingdom of their father. “

He who has ears let him hear.

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