Summary: The fourth in a series on the Parables of Jesus, this three-point expository sermon explores the parable of the wheat and the tares, focusing on the wheat which is deceptive, damaging, and destined for destruction!
PARABLES OF JESUS ǀ THE WHEAT & THE WEEDS
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/23/14
I know the forecast is calling for frigid temperatures and frosty condition this week, but I’m so thankful for the brief preview of spring we had last week. Two days of 50o temps was such a welcome reprieve from the snow and ice we’ve been having. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for spring to arrive. Spring brings so much warmth and color and new life. Flowers start budding, grass turns green again, blue skies and rainbow fill the air. One of the big things Ashley is looking forward to this Spring is planting a new garden. There’s something about feeling the dirt between her fingers, and the hope of seeds turning into five-foot tall tomato plants, or a high-bearing pepper plant that she finds enticing. To me, gardening just sounds like a lot of work. Hoeing, tilling, planting, fending off the bugs that think your bean plants were planted just for them, and of course the endless weeding that goes along with it.
I don’t know if Jesus ever had a garden, but a lot of his parables have to do with seeds and soil. Apparently he wasn’t very fond of weeds either, as evidenced by the parable of the wheat and the weeds. He tells this story in Matthew 13 along with several other parables about planting and harvesting. Here’s what he says:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ ‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
Jesus goes on to explain that he, himself, is the farmer in this story, his workers are heaven’s angels, and the enemy that infiltrates his field is the “evil one” or devil. But it’s the weeds that I want to focus on today. The wheat represents believers who have been born again into God’s Kingdom. But the weeds represent everyone else—the run-of-the-mile heathen, the internet infidel, your next-door neighbor, you sweet Aunt Mable, anyone who hasn’t been born again into God’s Kingdom.
Like the weeds in the parable, unsaved souls tend to share certain characteristics. So I’d like to highlight three features of the weeds in this parable.
First, the weeds are deceptive because they can be easily confused for wheat. It’s hard to tell the difference. In fact, most scholars believe that Jesus was describing a specific type of weed known as Bearded Darnel. Darnel typically flourishes in the same fields as wheat and the similarity between these two plants is so great that in some regions darnel is referred to as “false wheat.” The wheat and the weed are almost indistinguishable until the ear appears.
It reminds me of a story my mom shared with me about her sister-in-law, Maura. She and her husband had just bought their first house and Maura was especially excited about having a garden of her own. There was already a garden in the backyard, but the house had sat empty so long that the garden was overrun with weeds. So Maura grabbed her gloves, dug her hands into the dirt, and started ripping out weeds fast and furious. She’d been at it for a couple of hours when her next-door neighbor comes running out of the house in a panic. Apparently the garden belonged to her neighbor and those weren’t weeds; rather she pulled up an entire patch of asparagus.
If the workers in the field started pulling weeds, they probably would have had about as much luck as aunt Maura. Later, Jesus explains to his disciples: “The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one” (Matthew 13:37). The similarity between the wheat and weeds, however, is reminder that we can’t always tell the difference. The world is filled with believers and unbelievers—people who are saved and people who are lost. But you and I aren’t always in a position to tell which is which.
A few chapters earlier, Jesus said, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NLT).