In one of the parables that Jesus spoke is one that seems puzzling at first. It can seem even more puzzling when we attempt to apply the meaning to our lives and relationships within the body of Christ. Notice:
“He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weed among the wheat and went away. When the plants sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared. So the slave of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ He said, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the slaves replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the weeds you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, but then gather the wheat into my barn.”’” - Matthew 13:24-30.
Tares are simply weeds in our expression. Those who have grown up or lived and worked on a farm would perhaps have a better grasp of what Jesus was talking about. Jesus makes it clear that this and other parables were spoken to the crowds in fulfillment of scripture (v. 33-34), but explained the meaning to His disciples. He does this in verses 36-43. It is clear that He is speaking of end time events, and prior to the end as He says to the reaper to let them “grow together”, and not to pull them out lest the wheat should be pull out at the same time. It is sometimes impossible to extract weeds from a field or garden without the soil around both is pulled out also.
They live in the same environment, receive the same attention, feed upon the same nourishment from the soil and water. In a farming environment, sooner or later the weeds must be taken out. Otherwise, the crop cannot be harvested along with the weeds. If they are not removed, the whole produce can be corrupted, and become worthless for use as food or fiber, etc. So far so good. Most can understand the analogy with a little thought. Jesus applies this to the whole world - God is permitting the wicked and ungodly to dwell on the earth side by side with the righteous, until the time of the great separation, the separation of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
There is also an outworking of this parable that is constantly a reality in the church - in each congregation, or assembly, or any setting where there is a group of people gather together. Within this setting the parable becomes very practical, and yet subtle in it working. The apostle Paul evidently fully understood the application of the principle of this parable when he wrote to the church at Corinth concerning those who were profaning the “lords supper”. He had heard about it, and was inclined to believe it was true. He not only was not surprised by those who were corrupting the service, but said that it was necessary that such offences should occur. Notice:
“Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident.” - 1 Corinthians 13:17-19.
So it apparent there is tremendous utility value illustrated in this parable of Jesus. There must be the weeds. The weeds eventually cast a great spotlight as it were, upon the genuine. The conduct of the tares cast in brilliant relief, those who are “approved” by God. But it takes time. When a farmer sows his seed, he understand as a matter of reality that it will take time to produce the crop. But he also knows, that time is on his side. The weeds, allegorically speaking, do not know that they will be rooted up. Everything seems quiet normal to them. They are partaking of the good soil, the good water, and even the good attention of the farmer. But, as the farmer knows, the die is cast. The tares days are numbered. It is only a matter of time.
And so it is with those who dwell among the true people of God, and drift along with the wheat, perhaps feeling all is well. As noted above, Jesus applied His parable to the world. When the parable is fulfilled, the tares will be shocked and stunned when they are rejected. This is evidenced by one the most frightening scriptures in the Bible:
“ Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” - Matthew 7:22-23.
It is apparent that the tares in large part do not realize they are tares. They may firmly believe they are wheat. The reason they do not believe they are tares, as we can see from the scripture above, is they really are not known by Jesus. Not that they do not think that they know Him - they are convinced that they know Him - but that they are not known by Him. They are convinced that they “know the Lord”. But Jesus will say then, that they really do not know Him at all. He says “depart from me, you that work iniquity (lawlessness).” The tares seem to believe, but see no need to obey. Notice Jesus' next statement in verse 24-27:
“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!”. They have not progressed from the hearing to the doing.
It is also important to notice that it is the tares who are removed first - from the wheat. Not the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13:30). It is the wheat, after the weeds have been removed, that is gathered and preserved in His barn.
Lets us all be sure we are really wheat. Lets us make sure we are in the right gathering.
“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left. “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” - Matthew 24:40-44 (NET)
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