Summary: The Church is full of wheat and tares. Which one are you planning to be?

NR 17-07-05

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares

Jesus gave us some wonderful teaching about how God wants us to live our lives. And to do this he used Parables or stories to help us understand God’s message to us

Last week we looked at the Parable of the Sower and we saw how the four different types of soil represented the four possible different responses to Jesus’ words

Today’s parable of the wheat and tares begins where last week’s parable left off - with the good crop growing in the good soil.

In today’s parable, Jesus is speaking about people who want to be disciples

In this parable, the seed has taken root in the good soil. Jesus’ words have taken root in the hearts of disciples – and the seed starts to flourish.

But the devil isn’t content to let Christians grow in peace and quiet - he is out to disrupt us and so he sows a weed.

But it wasn’t just any weed – it was darnel (lolium temulentum)

"this resembles wheat-like grass and is a weed in whose grains lives a poisonous fungus and grows exclusively in grain fields in the Middle East (per The Parables of Jesus – David Wenham p.57)

RT France says this about darnel. It is

" a poisonous plant related to wheat and which is virtually indistinguishable from it until the ears form.

To sow darnel among wheat as an act of revenge was punishable in Roman Law – so it probably depicts a real life situation."

(Matthew- R.T. France p. 225)

The meaning of Jesus parable is simply this:

In the world in which we live, there will be true disciples of Jesus and there will be those who are counterfeit. And you will only recognise the counterfeit not by what they say but by the fruit they bear.

And the counterfeit disciples aren’t neutral, they are out to stop the word of God growing.

The battle is not just in the world – the devil has brought it into the Church – where God’s people meet and grow together.

As Keith Green once poignantly said:

"Going to church no more makes you a Christian than going to Mc Donald’s makes you a hamburger"

So what is it that makes us a Christian.

In Jesus’ parable we see three characteristics of Christians.

1. Their spiritual life comes from God. The sower of the seed in their life is God

2. God is described as their Father – abba – a very intimate family word and

3. They are called “righteous”

What does righteous mean?

1. Firstly this means being in a right relationship with God. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when he said in the parable : they will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father

2. And secondly this means they live a righteous life.

Story: In the American Declaration of Independence there are three unalienable rights of man to

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

For the Christian there are three unalienable rights to:

1. Eternal Life

2. Liberty from sin and

3. A personal relationship with God – to be able to call him our heavenly Father

But with those rights comes one major responsibility to righteous living or expressed more simply to

1. Christian Discipleship

Christian discipleship is not about “being happy” (as the American Constitution might suggest) .

It is, in my opinion, about being OBEDIENT to the will of God – listening to God and living our lives as he tells us to do.

Father Canta – la - messa said this recently:

Being in the likeness of God, Jesus had the “right” to happiness but he chose obedience- suffering on the cross. And what happened? God exalted him and made him Lord” (C of E Newspaper 15th July 2005 p. UK3)

If we want to be exalted in God’s kingdom, we need to learn to obey.

Story: In the Old Testament, in 1 Sam 15:22, the prophet Samuel said this to King Saul:

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and

sacrifices as much as in obeying the word of the Lord.

To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

And listen to this:

For rebellion is like the sin of divination and

arrogance like the evil of idolatry

But just in case you think this is simply Old Testament, you find a similar thing in Hebrews 3:12-19.

The writer - speaking about the Exodus and the Generation who disobeyed God and so did not enter the promised land - said this about them.

"And to whom did he swear that they should not enter into him rest, but hose who did not obey".

If obedience is important for the disciple, then we need to look at what God tells us to do.

2. The Great Commission

Jesus just before his Ascension gave the Church a single great Commission.

Jesus said:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them inn the name do the Father Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Mt 28:18-19)

Do you see that important little word again – obey.

Note what Jesus said: "Teaching them to obey."

The Christian is not someone who lives to please himself. He lives to please God.

Therefore, if we are going to take Jesus seriously in our lives, we need to orientate our church life to reflect this command.

If we come to church to worship and obey God, then may I suggest that we need to have a healthy concern for the lost in our towns and villages – for those who do not know Christ.

If we want to see growth in our churches, we need to heed to words of the Lord. He has given us the Church clear instructions as to what he wants us to do

And the consequence of this is this:

It might mean we need to rethink our vision of what Church is all about.

For, in the words of one of our former Archbishops of Canterbury William Temple:

“The church is the only organisation that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”

If we exist for the benefit of our non-members, then I think the challenge was put very nicely by the ’Sunday Times’ journalist Matthew Parris – a man, who by his own confession, is not a Christian. Parris wrote:

’The New Testament offers a picture of God, who does not sound at all vague. He has sent His Son to earth. He has distinct plans for each of us personally and can communicate directly with us. We are capable of forming a direct relationship, individually with Him, and are commanded to try.

We are told that this can be done only through his son. And we are offered the prospect of eternal life – an afterlife in happy, blissful or glorious circumstances if we live this life in a certain manner.

Friends, if I believed that, or even a tenth of that, how could I care which version of the prayer book is used.

I would drop my job, sell my house, throw

away all my possessions, leave my acquaintances and set out into the world burning with desire to know more and, when I had found more, to act upon it and tell others.

Far from being puzzled that the Mormons and Adventists should knock on the door, I am unable to understand how anyone who believed that (which) is written in the Bible could choose to spend their waking hours in any other endeavour.’ (Matthew Parris).

Obedience to the will of God, is I would suggest to you, the difference between the Wheat and the Tares in Jesus’ parable this morning.

Because at the end of the day, that will decide whether you are working to promote the kingdom of God.

Will what you do will be brought into God’s barns or will what you do be consigned to the fire.

The choice is yours!