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Summary: Lessons from the parable of the wheat and the tares.

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One of this year’s most-viewed programs...is a game show!

--Hosted by Howie Mandell, each week the particpant in the game is “tempted” by the host and an invisible banker to “settle” for a guaranteed prize rather than take a risk and remain in the game by opting for a large prize, with the highest of all being a potential $1 million. However, to stay in the game and have a chance for the big priize, the participant must move a choice: to refuse the deal by the banker or accept the offer. So, with much drama, a lot of pressure from the crowd, and some t.v. commercials interspersed in order to heighten the drama, finally Howie asks the participant the defining question, “Deal or No Deal?”

In earlier t.v. history, one of the most popular shows featured the drama and homespun wisdom of a rural family in mid-America.

--Richard Crenna played the role of the adult son and farm owner. Walter Brennan was the real star, playing the role of Crenna’s aging father. The family’s last name was McCoy and the show was called “The Real McCoy.”

--Actually “the real McCoy” is an idiom, a phrase that has made its way into the English language, meaning genuine, authentic.

Today, in the final message in the series we’ve entitled, “Pursuing Meaning,” we come to Jesus parable of the wheat and the tares.

--In essence, it’s a story that helps us understand that there are those in the world who are the “real deal” as believers, but there are also some in whom there has been “no deal”...some who are not the “real McCoys,” but are simply acting a role.

I invite you to open a Bible and turn once again to Matthew 13.

We’ve already read the story...it’s a story that requires an agricultural understanding. It was understood by those Jesus first told the story to.

Wheat was a major cash crop, but there was also at that time a weed called darnel. Darnel was a weed the looked like wheat but wasn’t. It was, in fact, poisonous.

The story: the sower sowed good seeds, but his enemy came along at night, while the owner’s men were asleep, and sowed darnel among the good wheat. As the wheat matured, the phony wheat became apparent, and Jesus uses the setting of the story to tell of the final results as a parable of the kingdom.

A parable is a real life story with a heavenly meaning. As with most parables, the characters in the story are symbolic.

In this story...

--The field owner is symbolic for Jesus, the Son of Man.

--The field is the world.

--The good seed are symbolic for genuine believers, the true disciples, Christians. They are identified by Jesus as “sons of the kingdom.”

--The “tares” are the “posers,” those presenting themselves as believers but aren’t really. Jesus identifies them as “sons of the evil one.”

--The enemy is the devil.

--Harvest time is the end of the age. (When time will be no more, and when judgment shall be meted out.)

--And the reapers are angels.

We’re going to focus most of our attention on the characteristics of the tares and characteristics of the wheat, but first...

LET’S NOTE THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATIONS WE CAN MAKE FROM THIS PASSAGE:

1) There are two families on earth.

--v.38 -- “...as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one.”

--They exist side by side...they are present even in church gatherings today as folks gather to worship.

--There are those who are genuine wheat, but there are also tares among them.

2) There are a lot of phony Christians.

--v.30 -- “...and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles...’”

--There are enough of them that in this story they can be gathered into bundles of bales at the time of judgment.

3) The world isn’t going to get better and better.

--v.41 -- “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness.”

--There are some who erroneously believe the world is going to be constantly approving and that eventually the whole world will become believers.

--That’s not what this passage says. Instead, at the end of time there are going to be many who commit lawlessness and are, in fact, stumbling blocks.

4) Non-believers face a fiery end.

--v.42 -- “and will cast them into the furnace of fire, in that place there shall we weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

--Notice: the weeping we understand. They will be in pain and they will rue their decision to not accept Christ.

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