By Pastor Robert L. Donnelly
WORDS OF JESUS – “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like . . .”
For today’s consideration, I would like to go through the parable of the wheat and the tares with you – Words of Jesus found in Matthew 13:24-30. It’s one of seven parables that picture the Kingdom of Heaven in seven different aspects.
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.”
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” We are told in verse 38, that the good seed are the children of the Kingdom. They are those who received the seed which is the Word of God, and they themselves become the “seed” which the Great Husbandman, in His infinite wisdom, scatters throughout the world.
Notice, that they were planted in His field. For as the Psalmist says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1).
“But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.” So we are introduced again to the fact of an active, intelligent, and thoroughly malicious enemy – whose principal field of operation is wherever God sows His wheat. Notice again, that the good seed was sown in the daytime, while the tares are sown at night. God does all His work right out in the open, where everyone can see what's going on.
Nothing underhanded or deceitful about the work of the Gospel. "Come and see" is the invitation extended to every inquirer after the way of truth. But it is the nature of the prince of darkness to do all his works undercover. He never comes right out in the open; he never declares his intentions and designs; he never introduces himself as an enemy of all righteousness, the opposer of all that is true and pure and good. He always masquerades as one whose whole desire is to “liberate” the human race from superstition and religious bondage. But in the end he completely enslaves the mind, soul, and body to evil passions and perversions that plunge the soul into eternal night.
Well, this enemy sowed the tares, and they are described as children of the wicked one growing right alongside the children of the Kingdom. The same soil that produces wheat, produces weeds. The environment is good, the climate is good, there is sunshine and rain. In other words, every opportunity is provided for growth.
So many of the blessings of Heaven fall equally upon the just and the unjust – the righteous and the wicked. But while the wheat grows and ripens to feed a perishing world, the weeds grow and ripen for destruction. They absorb all the good and yield nothing of value to the Creator. This parable forever cancels the argument that all men need is a good environment in order to be good wheat. Or that Christians are dependent on a good environment in order to be Christian. The problem is not one of environment at all. It's entirely one of nature. People often wonder why, in a community where there are so many churches, there should be so much wickedness. But it's just as great a wonder, why, in a land where there is so much wickedness, there should be so many Christians.
The next stage of this parable tells of the servants coming to the owner of the field, and asking if they should not go out and pull up the tares. But He said, “No, let them alone; let them grow – both wheat and tares together.” Some interpret this to mean that in the Church, the wicked and the righteous should be allowed the same privileges and recognition. But this parable has nothing to say about the Church. Jesus Himself said, “The field is the world.” The reason given to the servants for not pulling up the tares, was that in so doing, they might uproot some wheat. Let them both grow together until harvest. Each generation ripens for harvest; every person is ripening for harvest; and it's solemnizing to think that side by side there are people drawing daily nearer to the day of reaping. To the casual bystander they all look alike, but one will be gathered into paradise, and the other into hades.
These are the Words of Jesus, regarding the future destiny of the wheat and the tares. I wouldn't want to tamper with them, but I would repeat them. “Let them both grow together until the harvest.” Only the great Husbandman in Heaven know when this harvest will begin. But of this we can be very sure: there will be a reaping.
Evidently, Jesus didn't anticipate that all men would eventually be saved; nor did He suppose that in time the whole world would become Christian. In fact, this parable, with others, clearly teaches that only a part will be saved.
But that part makes the whole effort worthwhile. But what about the tares? Is there anything that can be done to change weeds to wheat? Can the Ethiopian change his skin? or the leopard, his spots? Can that which is by nature sinful, become by nature righteous? Can a child of the wicked one become a child of God? If the answer is “yes,” then there is help for the worst of us; but if the answer is “no,” there is no hope for the best of us. For, according to the Bible, we all are by nature the children of wrath; but it is also written that if any man be in Christ he is a new creature – old things have passed away, behold, all things are become new.
Our time has gone again. But remember, you are ripening for harvest. And God knows whether you belong to the wheat or the tares. And He offers every inducement to let Him change you, to save you, to regenerate you by the very Spirit of Jesus Christ.