Summary: This sermon deals with the parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
“Weeding Out the Kingdom”
Starting with last Sabbath, we have begun a series of sermons dealing with what have become known as the “Kingdom Parables” of Christ. Out of the eight parables that we will be featuring over the coming weeks, Jesus himself only explained two, the parable of the sower and the parable of the weeds. And out of these two, the disciples asked Him to explain only one and that is the parable that we will be talking about this morning. I’ll have to confess, I was a little disappointed that I drew this particular parable—I guess because it seemed quite self explanatory… But as I studied it more in depth, I have come to realize that it was with good reason that the disciples asked about this particular parable because it turns out to be much more complex and profound than I first expected.
Matthew 13:24-30 (Read)
Back in ancient Palestine, agriculture was how most people made their living. And in this time, there were no government buyouts our subsidies to help the farmer in case of a drought or blight or anything else that might adversely affect your crops. So needless to say, there was an awful lot riding on how well your crops yielded from year to year. That being said, if one had an enemy in that particular time and he really wanted to do him harm, he might would somehow sabotage his crops. One of the most popular ways to do this was to go into your enemy’s field and sow weeds among his wheat. To make things even worse they sowed a weed that was identical to the wheat. The only time that the difference of the wheat and weed was noticeable was right before the harvest. The weed often used for this purpose was what is known as the Bearded Darnel—again, it looks exactly like wheat until the time when the real wheat actually begins to bear fruit.
Most of us have driven by wheat fields when the stalks are so full that they actually appear to be bowing under the weight of the grain. Well, the bearded darnel doesn’t produce grain, instead it produces a bunch of little black seeds that could actually make a person quite ill if eaten. So because they don’t produce this heavy grain, instead of bowing down, they stand up straight and that’s how they can be identified among the bowing wheat.
Now I can imagine that as Jesus was telling this parable that the disciples were well familiar with the literal aspect of the story. They, no doubt had seen or heard of this particular trick being played on someone before. But they just couldn’t ascertain what the spiritual meaning of this parable could possibly be. So, after Jesus told another parable and went with His disciples into the house, they asked the Lord to explain to them what they were expected to take away from this story. (READ Vs 37-43)
Now there is some disagreement among scholars as to the exact meaning of the word “field” as used here in this story. You see, in His decoding of the parable, Jesus simply states that the field is “the world.” But does that mean the literal world at large.. or, the Christian church which is scattered throughout the world? Personally, I believe that Jesus is here talking specifically about the church being His field. I believe this for two major reasons: 1. The weeds were sown AMONG the wheat 2. The weeds and the wheat were almost indistinguishable from one another.
You see, if Jesus was talking about the field being “the world” and the wheat being the Christians, it wouldn’t make as much sense because you don’t find many unchurched “in church.”! Not only that but unlike the weeds and wheat, most of the time you can very easily tell the professed Christian from the heathen within a short period of time by how they live and act from day to day.
What Jesus was saying was that in that first century church and in this twenty-first century worldwide Christian church, there are, growing together, both wheat and weeds. Unfortunately, some SDAs seem to believe that the Adventist denomination is the wheat while the rest of the denominations are the weeds. Please understand that I am definitely NOT in that camp. I believe that God has His faithful people in nearly every denomination and that they are living up to the light that they currently have. I also believe that the devil has planted his seed in EVERY denomination. In fact, I suggest that we forget about other denominations for a moment and just look around at the people in this sanctuary. I want you to understand that it is very likely that we have both wheat and weeds right here in this little section of the Lord’s field. At this very moment, someone is thinking, “I know that’s right” and I have a pretty good idea who a few of the weeds are…”