Summary: Parables for Christian Living, Pt. 1
THE HARVEST AT THE END OF THE AGE (MATTHEW 13:24-30, 36-43)
The Internet was a good idea gone bad and fully exploited. When computer scientists sent the first electronic-mail messages over the Internet more than 30 years go, they urge users to adopt the philosophy to “be liberal in what they accept and conservative in what they send.” At the time, the Net was in its infancy, used by a few hundred researchers at universities, government labs and high-tech companies.
Today, hundreds of millions of people have e-mail addresses, and spammers send out billions of junk e-mail messages every day. On a given day e-mail users will find themselves deleting without end unsolicited e-mails luring them to pornography, Internet gambling, and other sites. Spammers even copy corporate logos to send fake messages purporting to be from companies such as EBay Inc. and Citibank to fool people into handing over their credit card numbers and other personal information.
Internet service providers such as Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and other companies today are racing to find a way to verify that people who send e-mail are who they say they are. “There was very little attention paid to nasty people because we all knew and trusted each other,” said David Farber, an Internet pioneer who is now a professor of computer science and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “It was understood that it was easy to forge mail, but who would forge mail among your friends?” (Los Angeles Times 7/15/04 “Searching for Ways to Fight Junk E-Mail”)
The Chinese have a saying, “Do not have a heart to harm others; however, be not wanting of a heart cautious of others.” In God’s church today are scammers, swindlers, schemers, scoundrels and saboteurs of all kinds. In God’s kingdom, however, church impostors, hypocrites, and trespassers will not inherit or enter God’s kingdom. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is exclusive to Matthew. Matthew 13:24 is the first of four occurrences of this phrase that Matthew used in his parables (Matt 18:23, 22:2, 25:1) to devastating effect to encourage discouraged believers, to persuade undecided seekers, and to warn convincing wannabes.
BE TOUGHMINDED: OPPOSITION WILL EMERGE BUT IT WILL NOT TRIUMPH
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. One Sunday morning, everyone in one bright, beautiful, tiny town got up early and went to the local church. Before the services started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, etc. Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from the evil incarnate.
Soon everyone was evacuated from the church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving... seemingly oblivious to the fact that God’s ultimate enemy was in his presence. Now this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man and said, “Don’t you know who I am?”
The man replied, “Yep, sure do.”
Satan asked, “Aren’t you afraid of me?”
“Nope, sure ain’t,” said the man.
Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, “Why aren’t you afraid of me?”
The man calmly replied, “Been married to your sister for over 48 years.”
It’s hard to separate good wheat from bad tares in the fields before harvest. The word good is “kalos” in Greek. It means good literally or morally. In agricultural terms today, the good seed is FDA-approved and the gold standard for wheat; it gives good return for its investment and great joy to the farmer. It is honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth, true to its roots seed. The good seeds were not a problem and did not become a problem even when the tares came uninvited, unannounced, unchecked, and unguarded.
In a perfect world, wheat should be free from pests, diseases, and weeds since they were kept in the master’s field (v 24), but plant life in a fallen world is not that simple. Nature, creatures, and people can overrun their habitat and tinker with their existence. An enemy or competitor sneaked in and planted tares among the wheat and left. The enemy is “echthros,” from the word “hate.” The Hated One was hostile, adversarial, and sneaky. He couldn’t bear to see people, things and life get going and do well; he couldn’t stand to leave them alone; so he planted false grain among the good grain. The tares or darnel occur only in this New Testament passage, and nowhere else. Tares are more than just weeds, even though weeds have been defined broadly as unwanted plants; tares are closer in size, shape and specimen to the original plant. For a while, the difference is minimal, insignificant and unnoticeable.