This is the second of four parables Jesus preached from a boat to a crowd on shore. It is recorded in Matthew 13:24-30. His first coming almost twenty centuries ago, introduced the present age we live in. Jesus recited seven parables in all, and, in these parables, He gave us some clues to understanding our present age.
This age will end when Christ comes to earth in power and glory at the end of the Great Tribulation. One of the questions we might ask today may be “is the world getting better or is it getting worse?” I think this parable of the wheat and the tares will give us an answer.
Matthew 13:24-30. “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25. but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27. 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?' 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, 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."
Jesus spoke two more parables from the boat after this, four in all, and then left the crowds and went into the house where He spoke three more.
His disciples asked him the meaning of the parable of the tares and the wheat and in Verse 36 through Verse 43 the Lord explained it.
This parable is about sowing of seed, as was His first one, but there is quite a bit of difference. In the first parable, the seed was the Word of God and the sowing would continue throughout the entire age. It would fall on four different kinds of soil, four kinds of hearts, but in one only would it take root and grow, a prophecy that many people would get saved. However, in this parable the seed is not the Word of God. Jesus describes it as "the sons of the kingdom."
Matthew 13:36-39a. “Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." 37. He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.”
The Sower is the Son of Man, Jesus. The field is the world. The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, (Christians). The tares are the sons of the wicked one, (Satan). The enemy who sowed the bad seed is the devil. The harvest will come at the end of the age. The reapers are God’s angels.
This goes hand in hand with the first parable. Those produced by the good seed of the word in the first parable, the sons of the kingdom, were being scattered all over the world in this second parable. In one way this is going on all through this age. In the first parable we were looking at the soil only, in this one we are looking at the whole field which is the world.
Jesus is comparing the kingdom of heaven to a man who sowed good seed in his field and an enemy came and sowed some bad seed in among the good seed. It all grew and when the servants saw the bad seed growing they asked their Master what to do about it. The Master told them to wait until the harvest was complete, then separate the wheat and the tares. This is actually a prophecy of the final judgment where the saved of earth are separated from the unsaved.
Matthew 25:31-34. "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”
In the first parable, God began by sowing the word in the hearts of individuals. Some of the seed fell on receptive hearts (acceptance of the gospel) and those individuals who trusted in His Son became sons of the kingdom. He then scattered these “sons of the kingdom” throughout the world as His witnesses. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus gathered His disciples and told them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
The "great commission" was the start of these sons of the kingdom being sent into all the world. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and filled the disciples with His Spirit, empowering them to go everywhere, preaching the word. The Lord is talking about that here. He scattered them throughout the world.
In this parable, the field represents the world. God puts the sons of the kingdom where He wants them, and that is in the world. If you are a child of God, you are a son of the kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ, and you have been put where you are for a purpose by the Lord.
It is important to understand that He has sown us (put us) where we are for a purpose. This refers to each one of us as an individual. We are a part of the church through faith in Christ and as such are to gather together as a group for worship, instruction, and fellowship as members of the bride of Christ, but as individuals, we are to go into all the world and tell others of the love of Christ so that the truth of His saving grace is made known to the whole world.
What the Lord is telling us is this: the field contains all the people of the world and He scatters His own (the wheat) among them. At the beginning of this age when the seed was first sown and while men were not aware in their innocence of what was happening, Satan came and out of sheer hatred of God, he sowed a crop of falsehoods ("tares”) among the wheat (believers and non-believers alike).
Jesus calls those who, along with Satan, sowed false doctrine and lies of all kind "the sons of the evil one." They scattered these lies throughout the human race and especially among the believers in Christ. They spread false religions and advocate all kinds of morally corrupt things that appeal to the natural man.
We are all descendants of Adam and as such we are sinners, we all tend toward evil naturally. We don’t have to be taught to sin, it comes naturally. But what Jesus has in mind here are those who teach evil under the guise of religion.
Jesus gives the illustration of the whole human race as a field. In the beginning, He scattered men committed to the truth in the world in order to produce more like Himself. Satan also has scattered men committed to the lie in order to produce more like himself. God has allowed both to grow together until the harvest. Matthew 13:26-28a. “But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27. 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?' 28. He said to them, “An enemy has done this.”
Our Lord said that these “tares” would be sown not just in the world in general but also among the church, and some “tares” would grow up within the church.
So the wheat are true believers, and the tares are those who appear to be true believers who grow up right within the church but are actually false. The two are so close in appearance and actions that you can't tell them apart until the fruit begins to appear.
Gradually the tares take form and appear as they really are. "Matthew 13:28b-30a. “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, and at the time of harvest.”
Jesus said that you cannot separate evil from the church. It is going to be there in some form. Christians who ignore those words of Jesus are constantly trying to purify the church in ways unwarranted by the Scriptures. We are to expose evil, to meet it positively with the teaching of the truth. We are not to permit those who exhibit clear forms of error to take leadership in the church. Our Lord wants us to understand that no human effort is going to totally eliminate those in error here on earth. "Let both grow together," He said.
The Lord will handle this problem. He says, "Let them both grow together until the harvest." Meanwhile we are to preach the word, teach the truth, deal with it in our own hearts, exclude evil from our leadership.
It’s very likely there are sons of the evil one in most earthly churches. One of the most important lessons in this parable is that the enemy works most successfully by imitation.
Now look at the way the Lord plans to deal with them: Matthew 13:30b. “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.”
Jesus explained it like this. Matthew 13:39-43: “The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41. 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, 42. and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
Our Lord is looking ahead to His return in power and glory at the close of this age. In Matthew 24 and 25 the Lord told what it will be like at the end of the age. It will be a time of great tribulation and judgment on the earth for a period of seven years. Each judgment is like an angel's scythe as he goes through the harvest field, reaping the harvest of earth. Revelation 14:15. “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
The reapers will harvest and bind the weeds into bundles ready to burn. The binding will take place immediately but the burning won’t. It will come at the close of the age. Near the close of the age, we will see evil men gathering themselves together into great associations for the work of evil. That is actually the work of God’s angels. They will bind the tares together into bundles to await their burning, the time of judgment that is to follow.
Right this day we are seeing a gathering together of those of like mind, who stand for all the evil principles that God has condemned in scripture. Much of this involves an outright rebuttal of Biblical statements. There are religions that have other gods than Jehovah and even will kill anyone who denies or objects to the worship of their god.
As we near the time of the end of the age there will be a growing tendency for man to accept the teachings of evil persons and consequently they will be swept away in judgment.
But the future of the “wheat” is spectacular! We are to be gathered into the Father's barn. This is the Rapture. This is the destiny of the wheat. And Jesus says, "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
In the book of Revelation John sees a great multitude from every tribe and nation standing before God and appearing to “shine as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.” They have come out of the great tribulation, the harvest of the earth, as men and women who perhaps have laid down their lives for Christ during that time.
All through this age men and women have been laying down their lives for Christ and He will reward them. Revelation 2:10. "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." That doesn't necessarily mean we have to be killed on some foreign mission field, but we are to remain true to Him wherever we are until we die. That is a sign that we really belong to Him. Revelation 11:15. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
In closing, let’s answer the question we began with: Is the world getting better, or is it getting worse? The answer the Lord gives is clearly, "Both!"
Good men are spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in powerful and more extensive ways, and evil men are getting worse and more powerful and destructive.
The two sowings are nearing the harvest. As we near the end of the age, if evil is becoming increasingly worse, God is matching it with a demonstration of His power by the increased spreading and acceptance of His Word in the world.
That is why I think it is logical that, if evil is getting more evident and more are accepting it as right, we will also see the Holy Spirit working among the same groups of people that are promoting evil and an awakening will occur among some and that will lead them to Christ. That is happening in our own day. Jesus says it will continue until the time of harvest, and when the harvest comes at the end of the age, the good will belong to God and the evil He will destroy with fire.
Where do you stand on this? That is the question each one of us has to answer. Is the seed of the Word of God in your heart? Are you one of the sons of the kingdom that God is using to bring about this great harvest that will delight His heart throughout all eternity?
Are you a growing son of the kingdom, an influence for good throughout the earth? Or are you a son of the evil one, spreading lies, deceptive concepts, and the destructive philosophies that are so widespread in the world today?
Among Satan’s lies is that man is self sufficient and able to run his own life and does not need God. That lie marks the whole philosophy of the devil. Don’t fall for it. It isn’t true. It only leads to hell and destruction for all eternity.
Almost 2000 years ago a jailer in the city of Phillipi whose life was in jeopardy, realized he could not have control of his own life. In desperation he called out “What must I do to be saved?” The apostle Paul and his fellow prisoner, Silas, answered him with the Word of God: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31
That is still the only solution today.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
and you will be saved.