Summary: as with all of Jesus’ parables there is “a message behind the message,” and this parable is no different. In a word, it’s not only important what Jesus said, but what He did not say!
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, March 14, 2010
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
In a Manner of Speaking: The Parable of “The Wheat and the Tares”
Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43
There are several interesting facets to this particular parable entitled, “The Wheat and the Tares,” that I’d like to share with you this morning, but you might be wondering, “Why bother since Jesus already explains this parable in verses 36-43? But keep in mind that as with all of Jesus’ parables there is “a message behind the message,” and this parable is no different. In a word, it’s not only important what Jesus said, but what He did not say!
Then, too, this is the first of six parables in this chapter where Jesus uses the phrase, “The kingdom of heaven is like …” And so from the outset, the Lord is drawing a clear distinction between what heaven will be like in the future as opposed to what life here on earth is like now, or to put it another way: “the rain falls on the just and the unjust.” In other words, we live in an age of “common grace.”
We live in a fallen world where there are inequalities. The scales of justice are not always weighted properly; they are unbalanced. Often times we judge others, just as we ourselves are judged, on the basis of prejudice and bias.
The people of God clamor for justice and righteousness which is seldom found and rarely sought. Down through the ages, the Church, like all institutions, has been besieged with iniquities but there’s good news in all of this because Jesus outlines ways by which we can eradicate injustice in our families, in our communities, and yes, even within the Church whereby we can make wrongs become right!
First of all, THE PEOPLE OF GOD MUST EXERCISE SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT (repeat).
In Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4 as well as in other New Testament writings, the uses of spiritual gifts are mentioned. And at least one of these gifts is given to every believer by the Holy Spirit. But, in my opinion, there is one gift that is common to all believers, which is the gift of spiritual discernment. We may not always make proper use of this gift, but nevertheless it is availed to us. For how else can the believer understand the truths of God without discernment?
The Lord begins this parable by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” Jesus later explains to His disciples that the owner is the Son of Man, which was a favorite title He ascribed to Himself; one which the prophet Ezekiel often used. The field is the world in which we live, and the good seeds are those who have been chosen to be the children of God.
Ah, but here comes the interesting part; for while men were sleeping the enemy crept in and sowed tares amidst the wheat and then went on his way. Notice that Jesus said “His enemy”! Does this infer that God was somehow asleep at the switch? In the creation account did not God make everything good? Indeed, everything was very good!
God has not, and He will not, ever condone sin. Nevertheless, God allowed sin to enter into this otherwise pristine world of ours. Thus, God is not, and cannot, be the author of sin … May it never be! So, if God wasn’t the perpetrator, then who was? Well, in verse 39 Jesus identifies the enemy as none other than the devil himself who often disguises himself as “an angel of light.” Throughout the Old and New Testament there are some thirty-one names or titles identified with this fallen angel.
Ever since the historic fall, it has been mankind who has fallen asleep while the devil has worked his crafty schemes. His successes are the result of our being lulled into a state of lethargy.
Indelibly etched in my mind are the words spoken by former President George W. Bush on the heels of 9-11 whereupon he said: “They were at war with us before we were at war with them.” Whether we choose to believe it or not, we are in a state of war and this war extends even to the very fibers of our being! God’s enemy, and ultimately our enemy, would like nothing more than to have us remain oblivious to the things that are happening all around us.
In similar fashion, this parable reminds us that while we were sleeping the enemy stealthily came amongst us and sowed a weed known as “bearded darnel.” If this plant were to be mistakenly consumed it could cause dizziness or nausea. Darnel looks very much like that of wheat until it reaches full maturity. It might interest you to know that in ancient times it was a common practice among warring nations to attempt to destroy another country’s crops. The rationale being that if you could devastate the enemy’s agricultural base, you could effectively neutralize their military forces; after all, if soldiers can’t eat, they can’t fight!