THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND THE WEEDS.
Matthew 13v24-30 & 36-43.
Within Matt13 there are seven parables relating to the kingdom of Heaven. We saw in the first one [the parable of the sower] that the KoG is established, not by military might or by political manuvouring BUT by the Word of God taking root in the hearts and minds of people as they come into a relationship with the King of the Kingdom.
We saw in the parable of the sower that there was a farmer, a field, seed and finally a crop yield. In the parable of the weeds we have a similar scenario.
|Parable of the Sower
|Parable of the Weeds
|Son of Man
World (people’s hearts)
Word of God
30x, 60x, 100x.
|Son of Man
Sons of the Kingdom
sons of the Evil One
separating good from bad
The farmer has sown good seed in his field and then the enemy comes and sows weeds.
The field is the world. And as we consider the world in which we live we have to acknowledge that it is a wonderful place –
ILLUS.: I have been watching David Attenbourgh’s series on “The private life of plants” . It is intriging to see how plants reproduce and how animals and insects are used to carry pollen etc. from one plant to another.
What is not so interesting but rather sad is that all this wonder is considered to be the product of chance and natural selection. – BUT yes the world is a wonderful place!!
YET it is also the place where indescribable evil occurs.
ILLUS.: This past Friday [27 Jan 1995] marked the 50th anniverary of the liberation of the German death camp, Auschwitz, by the Russians. 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, murdered. Many of those who went back to remember told the Media that we need to remember so that it will never happen again – we need to remember – not just Auschwitz and Belsen – but the fact that it has happened since then and is still happening. Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda ….
The field is the world. And this field belongs to the one who sows the good seed – the Son of Man. The field is rightfully his but the enemy has encroached on his territory and sown bad seed amongst the good seed.
The world belongs properly to God as king and he is in the process of restoring his rule. It might seem that the field is wild and uncultivated and could not possiblby produce a crop of any worth BUT the farmer knows that the good seed will produce a harvest even though at times it seems as though the bad seed has taken over.
Even though the field is full of weeds the farmer does not rush in and rip them all out. The kingdom of God is not established in the world by God destroying all evil now. The time will come when that will happen but not yet. BUT in the meantime God’s kingdom takes root in this world in the same way as seed planted in good ground takes root and ultimately produces a harvest.
Sometimes its growth is imperceptible – sometimes it seems as if nothing is happening. We can’t see what is happening below the soil – BUT there is growth.
1. The sons of the kingdom are sovereignly placed in the world by the King.
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a man who
sowed good seed in his field” [v24] …….
” The field is the world and the good seed
stands for the sons of the kingdom.” [v38]
A good farmer knows his field and he knows where to plant the seed. He doesn’t waste the seed but rather plants it in the place where it will growth best.
This should be a great encouragement to us. God’s concern is that his kingdom is established and the way that happens is to plant the seed of his word into the hearts of people as we saw in the parable of the sower. BUT ALSO the way the kingdom is established is to take those in whose hearts the word of God is rooted and to plant them into the field of the world so that there they may bear fruit.
Not only is the seed of the word planted into our hearts BUT we [as seed] are then planted into the world. So you are here today – not by chance but by God’s sovereign will. God knows where he has placed you in the world. He knows who your family is, where you work, who lives next door to you; he knows all the circumstances of your life – after all he put you there.
It is no good wishing that we were somewhere else or that our circumstances were different and if that were so then we would be more effective for him or we would be more spiritual. It is so easy to think that we will be more spiritual tommorow, when we have more time, when we are older, when the children are grown up, when we have finished school or colloege, if our job was not so demanding ……….
Sometimes you maybe tempted to think that if you were in “full-time Christian service” – like a pastor of missionary then it would be easier to serve God. Well there are no part-time Christians – only full-time ones – and let me tell you it is not easier to be more spiritual if your are a pastor or missionary.
God has put us where we are and he wants us to grow and become mature where we are. If you feel that God is calling you to go to another place to serve him – then you have to start here.
The good seed represents the sons of the kingdom. And if you are a Christian then you are the seed that the farmer is planting in his field of the world.
Life would be so easy and pleasant and enjoyable if only ALL the seed in the field was good seed.
BUT there is an enemy.
2. The sons of the kingdom must, for a time, live in the same world as the sons
of the evil one.
But while everyone was sleeping, his emeny came
and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
There is a plant that grows in Israel, still today, commonly called “Darnel“. In the early stages of growth looks like wheat BUT it is host to a fungus that if eaten is poisionous to both humans and animals.
What this enemy has done by sowing weeds amongst the wheat is mean cruel, cowardly and sadistic. This is not an unfortuante error but a deliberate act agricultural sabotage.
The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy
who sows them is the devil [v38b-39a]
It is clear from this parable and from the rest of scripture that Satan does everything in his power to disrupt, hinder and counterfeit the work of the Kingdom of God. You can be sure that wherever God’s children are, then Satan’s children are their too. Satan’s purpose is not to bring forth a good harvest but a harvest of corruption.
While we need to be careful not to give Satan too much credit or indeed to blame him for our weaknesses. Some Christians are prone to do that – If they sin then it is Satan’s fault. On the other hand we must also be careful not to downplay his power and to under-estimate his cunning and craftiness.
To call those who are NOT sons of the kingdom, sons of the evil one may sound like very strong language to our modern ears. In an age when tolerance is a virtue and everyone’s opinion is valid no matter how contradictory, to refer to someone as a child of the devil seems a bit over-the-top.
Remember what Jesus said to those who rejected him:
You belong to your father the devil… [Jn.8v44]
Listen to what Paul says when commenting about those who do not understand the gospel:
The god of this world [the devil] has blinded
the minds of the unbelievers, so that
they cannot see the light of the
gospel of the glory of God….. [2 Co.4v3-4]
These verses emphasise the seriousness of belief and unbelief as well as the power of evil. Unbelief is not a respectable option – it is under the power of the devil. The problem is that we don’t always recognise and that is not surprising because Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light [2 Co.11v14]
The demands of God on those who are the sons of the kingdom are that they be righteous. It is the righteous who enter the kingdom of heaven.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father [v43]
This righteousness is firstly relational – i.e. it is that righteousness which is given to those who by virtue of their relationship to Jesus are declared righteous. It is a gift of God – we are declared to be righteous on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And after repentence and confession we are brought to salvation.
As a result of having been declared righteous we are required to live holy and godly lives in this present age.
Set over against righteousness is what the Bible calls Lawlessness.
The son of man will send out his angels,
and they will weed out of his kingdom everything
that causes sin, and all who do evil
[ALL WHO ARE DOING LAWLESSNESS] [v41]
This “lawlessness” does not refer exclusively to those in our world who are criminals and anarchists. It refers to all who are opposed to or simply indifferent to the laws of God. Not primarily the 10 Commandments but the law of love as shown in Christ. So a person might be a perfectly respectable – an upstanding citizen – but still be lawless in relation to God’s Holy law.
Every individual is in this situation until God by his grace changes the individual’s heart. When that happens then you are good seed planted in the field – a child of the king and of his kingdom.
BUT remember that you are planted in the midst of a field in which weeds are also growing. The two will grow together until the end of the age. Then the farmer and his harvesters will separate the wheat and the weeds.
[The sons of the evil one] will be thrown
into the fiery furnace, where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth. [v42]
It is not popular any more to talk about hell but the references to it in the Bible are so numerous that, if we are going to treat the Bible seriously then, it is impossible to ignore.
The words that are used to describe eternal life are the same words that are used to describe eternal punishment – so if you deny the one then you must deny the other.
“How can a good loving God send anyone to hell?‘
God is love and he is also just and holy and will not tolerate evil of any kind.
The question we should ask is not “How can a good loving God send anyone to hell?‘ BUT “How could a holy, righteous God save a sinful wretch like me?’
Why should God save anyone?? When all deserve eternal punishment!!
Hell is a fearful place and is reserved for the devil and for all who reject God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. I urge you, if you are not a child of God turn to him, cry to him for salvation.
3. The sons of the kingdom will be known by their fruit.
Let both grow together until the harvest ….
It seems clear from this parable that there is a mixture of good and bad seed within the world and indeed within the church. The two must grow side by side in the same field – they are not planted in separate fields.
It has always been the case in the church right from the beginning that God allows the true and the merely nominal Christian to live side by side. This is difficult to understand and even more difficult to know the difference between true and nominal.
We see the outward – the behaviour – God sees the heart. He knows who are his.
Sometimes a person true character is shown and we are able to decern the “weed” in the field.
ILLUS.: The man who was instrumental in my conversion – he was a great preacher BUT it turned out that he was a homosexual and turn his back on God and to my knowledge is still far from God.
Is doesn’t mean that he is beyond salvation – homosexual practice is not unforgivable.
He pretended to be a Christian – we all know people who we thought were Christians and yet turned out not to be so.
Knowing that there is this mixture within the Kingdom of God does not mean that we go on a “Witch-hunt” to try and discover the weeds and throw them out The is precisely what Jesus said we must not do because of the damage it will do to the wheat.
Jesus is not suggesting that we should ignore evil and that it does not matter: It is the work of the enemy and it will one day be judged. We are to resist evil – Jesus urged drastic action against evil –1) the person within the fellowship who refuses to listen to reason and act in a Christian way is to be expelled from the fellowship.
2) on and individual level Jesus graphically spoke of getting rid of an eye or hand that might lead into sin.
While church and personal discipline are important this parable warns of the danger of expecting perfection this side of Judgement Day. So don’t expect this Church to be perfect because you will be disappointed – and don’t go looking for a perfect Church because if you find one and join then it won’t be perfect anymore – you’ll be there!!!!
BUT on the other hand, this parable is an encouragement not to loss heart when experiencing failure and opposition. That is to be expected – we live in a community comtaminated by sin. BUT there will be a harvest. God will bring fruit.
We are part of that – He wants us to co-operate with him. It is God’s work – all of it and yet in a mysterious way it is our work also.
For good seed to grow in needs to fall into the ground and die – that is what Jesus said of himself – that is what he expects from us.
When Jesus said: ….. Take up your cross daily…. What did he mean?
ILLUS.: Well I have a difficult wife and that’s my cross.. I have a problem child and that’s my cross…
Your husband or wife maybe difficult BUT was talking about something quite different.
Any one who does not take his cross and follow me
is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. [Matt. 10v38-39]
The cross was an instrument of death – if we want to grow as children of the kingdom of God then we must die to self – to those natural desires that are in opposition to the way of life in God’s kingdom. What things are important in life? What am I living for? What drives you??? YOUR job? Having a clean house?? Financial security? The desire to be recognised and praise by others? The desire to just be … and not being bother with anyone else…. Just “You in your small corner and I in mine”
Listen !!! Jesus wants us to follow him. To grow as good seed and produce a harvest. He has planted you and me here – in Binscombe – and he wants us to grow here and produce a harvest here. Yes there are difficulties! Yes there will be oppostion because Satan is never happy when Christians are endeavouring to grow – in numbers and in maturity – but that is God’s agenda for us.
And the reward is this:
The righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their father. [v43]