Matthew 13b

Matthew 13B: The Wheat and the Tares

In the first parable – the Parable of the Sower, we learned not all people react to the Word of God, the Message of the Kingdom the same way. In fact, 3 out of 4 did not allow the seed to germinate and come to fruition. The Incorruptible Seed was not allowed to take root in the heart. Only one out of the four was the good soil which received the Seed, the Word of God and went on to bear fruit in varying amounts.

Now if you are wondering why did the Lord Jesus choose this agricultural theme- it provided the perfect illustrations of the spiritual realm in the physical realm. In addition it was easy to recall.   He continues using these agricultural metaphors in this next parable as the Lord Jesus tells us the world is the field in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.  Let’s consider how this connects back to the beginning and see what transpired in the Garden in the Fall of Mankind.

Mankind started out in God’s Garden of Eden. The world began as God’s Garden, His field and it was perfect.   A garden where everything man needed was supplied by a loving and generous Creator- God. It was there where sin entered the world and the results were devastating. Spiritual death occurred immediately, eventual physical death- both foretold by God to Adam and in turn Adam to Eve.  Everything up until sin entered was perfect. From that time on evil existed in the world. And in this next parable, we see Jesus tells the disciples the field represents the world.

Genesis explains how the world became this field where evil exists. This parable tells us of the strategy of the enemy as he continues to sow tares in the world and how this will all end.

First let’s revisit what occurred in the Garden in the first sin and subsequent results. From a war that broke out in heaven, ( Revelation 12) that spread on to earth in Genesis 3- we see how the battle continues today. Read  today’s newspaper, catch 15 minutes of news on the television or listen to the prayer requests and you know evil exists and is spreading. First of all Lucifer was created as ‘ the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor- so I threw you to the earth.” ( Ezekiel 28)  Lucifer desired to be worshipped , he wanted to be God. This caused the war in heaven, a revolt where 1/3rd of the angels followed the Deceiver. The enemy and his followers were thrown out of heaven to the earth, although some were bound in an abyss. From Genesis 3 to the end of Revelation from Eden to Calvary, to this present time, we see what has happened and is happening and how we should be aware of it.  The Bible is the only book that reveals our past and our future and then tells us how we should live in the present.  Let’s look back to that fateful day when God came into the Garden and Adam and Eve behaved like children trying to hide from the All Seeing, All Knowing God.  Speaking to Lucifer, Satan, God tells him what will happen:   “ I will put enmity between your offspring ( the devil’s) and hers-( the woman) ; He ( God the Son) will crush your head and you will strike His heel.” ( Genesis 3)   God then tells Adam and Eve the horrific results of their disobedience.

Adam and Even not only lost their home, they could no longer eat from the Tree of Life. The ground was cursed – toil became painful, thorns and thistles became plentiful. The heartache of Adam and Even cost them their home, their relationship with God, and the pain of death and suffering of being a parent. Their son Cain, would murder his brother Abel.  What a painful life they endured, made even more painful by the fact of what they once had and lost.

Now as we read this parable we notice the phrase used often in this chapter: ‘ now the kingdom of heaven is like…”  Remember John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the kingdom that was coming.  After his baptism and testing in the wilderness, Jesus came preaching: “ Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Here Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a man( notice this is singular) who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone( men, plural KJV) slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds ( tares) among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, (fruit) then weeds ( tares) also appeared.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said: ’Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?  Notice the owner is not surprised. He knows who did this. “ An enemy did this.”   The servants then want to know if they are to pull up the weeds.  “ No, because while you are pulling up the weeds you might damage the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. First collect the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”

Now we are told in verses 36-43 the meaning of this parable. “  Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples  came to him and said- explain the parable of the wheat in the field.  He answered:  “ The One who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 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, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is at the end of the age, and the harvesters are the angels.  As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears let him hear.”

Quite often people speak of wheat and tares existing in the church. And although we can be sure there are unbelievers in any church building on any given day in church buildings throughout the world- Jesus did not identify the field as the church, but the world.  It is the world that lies under the power of the evil one.  The true church is the body of Christ of which He is the head. The true church consists only of true believers.  Whereas we are not to judge one another, we are told plainly what to do with a brother who professes to be a believer but continues to live in sin in Matthew 18 which describes the steps of church discipline we are to exercise. The world is the field. Then enemy is the one who sowed the weeds. The world is full of tares.   Notice the enemy’s strategy- he did it while men slept.   The kingdom of heaven exists today side by side with the realm of the evil one.  The realm of the evil one preaches tolerance and the message of why can’t we all get along together. It says to those who want religion- there are many ways to God. It calls dark – light and light- dark. It calls sin- good and acceptable and will not accept God’s Word as absolute truth.

The owner of the field and the one who planted the good seed is the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man. He is not alarmed with this condition. He knows who did it and his main concern is for His Wheat, the sons of the kingdom, the ones who are saved. He does not want to uproot the weeds because it might cause damage to the wheat, the true believers. He says wait until the harvest- which is the end of the age. And Jesus also tells us the harvesters are his angels.  They will uproot the weeds,and bundle them together and cast them into the fire.

We are not able to judge because during the growing phase because we cannot discern the difference between true and false believers. Weeds can resemble wheat in the early stages.  It was when the wheat formed heads or begin to bear fruit, the servants recognized the weeds.

The wheat the  true believers, the sons of the kingdom were gathered into the owners barn. Could this be a picture of the Rapture?  Well it seems to me it could be. That prior to the Tribulation where God pours out his wrath upon the world, the field, he gathers the wheat , his children into his barn- heaven.

The battle continues to this day- that began long ago in the spiritual realm of heaven and spilled out into the physical realm of this earth in Genesis 3. Know this- Satan’s policy will not be successful. The Lord Jesus said  “ I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ( Matthew 16)  I would call your attention to who it is that builds the church- the Lord Jesus. I am afraid today, many men are attempting to build what only the Lord Jesus can build. Their marketing and programs are the clever inventions of man’s belief in his ability he can build something that Jesus plainly tell us- only he will build his church.

The enemy came and sowed the tares among the wheat in this world hoping his tares would destroy the good wheat.  And while it appears at times- his tares are growing faster than God’s wheat, be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. The tares will not choke out the wheat. As frustrating as it is when you view the world through a Biblical viewpoint it brings great sorrow that we live side by side with ungodly tares.

However, the Lord’s word for us in the present is- let both grow together. Harvest time is coming. In the meanwhile , the first parable told us what to do in this world field today. We are to be sowing the seed, the Word of God, the Gospel.  “ Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing the noontide, and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves!”  In light of these parables- we see  we are to sow the seeds of the Word of God. But the harvest is the work of the angels at the end of the age.  As I consider this parable- could it the angels are the ones who are coming rejoicing bringing in the sheaves?  The Lord Jesus told us in Luke 15- of the rejoicing in heaven when one person repents.

One of the underlying themes we see in these parables is fruitfulness, harvest, sheaves being gathered in the barn,  productivity that multiplies -100 times, 60 times and 30 times.

Perhaps as you put these two parable together- you become aware of the seed in the first parable being called the ‘ word of the Kingdom, the word of God. And in this second parable the ‘good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom, the true believers.  So which is it?  It is both. What we see in the first parable is the incorruptible seed- the Word of God which takes root in the good soil.  The wheat is the fruit of the good seed – the fruit produced in the true believer. When the Incorruptible Seed, the Word of God takes root a new life is generated. We now have a new nature. The weeds have been uprooted, the hard soil has been broken up, the stony heart has been removed. Once again, God’s garden is planted. And He is there as our constant gardener. Pruning, cleansing, and promoting fruitfulness. John 15 explains this further in the agricultural language of the vineyard, Jesus tells us: “ I am the True Vine. My Father is the husbandmen (the vine dresser or gardener).  As the vinedresser , God is constantly pruning, cleansing  and performing those things He knows will allow us to bring forth much fruit.

What happened when the Seed took root, when we were born again. Our old nature was crucified with Christ. In Watchman Nee’s classic book, “ The Normal Christian Life”, he gives an excellent example from an orchard of how this happens in a chapter entitled; The Divide of the Cross.   Wanting to understand about trees bearing good fruit, Watchman visited a friend who owned an orchard of 300 fruit trees.  Here is the account of their conversation as Watchman Nee recalls what he saw and heard: “ I inquired if his trees had been grafted or if they were of the original  native stock. ‘ Do you think that I would waste my land growing ungrafted trees? What value could I ever expect from old native stock? So I asked him to explain the process of engrafting, which he gladly did. When a tree grows to a certain height, I lop off the top and graft on to it. Pointing to a special tree he said, ‘do you see that tree? I call it the Father Tree, because all of the grafts for the other trees are taken from that one. If the other trees were just left to follow the course of nature, their fruit would be small and consist mostly of thick skin and seeds. (  In other words good for nothing)  This tree, from which the grafts are taken, bears a luscious fruit the size of plum with very thin skin and a tiny seed, and of course all the grafted trees bear fruit like it. How does it happen I ask? I simply take a little of the nature of the one tree and transfer it to the other. I make a cleavage in the poor tree and insert a slip from the good tree. Then I bind it up and leave it to grow. But how does it grow? I asked. I don’t know, but it does grow. Then he showed me a tree bearing miserable fruit from the old stock below the graft from the good tree. If the old shoots are not pruned- this what they will continue to produce. ( The Ordinary Christian Life, by Watchman Nee.)

Now do you see what God has done?  God has done everything. There is only one Fruitful Life in the world and it is God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has been engrafted into millions of lives. New birth or regeneration is nothing more complicated for God than for this gardener to cut back or prune the old native stock, the old nature and take a portion of the life from the good tree and make a cleavage in the poor tree and engraft  the nature of the good tree into  and bind it together and let it grow.

He cut off my old nature , my natural Adamic stock by the Cross of His Son. His life is  then inserted in me. I am a partaker of His Divine Nature.

Jesus said I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly. ( john 10:10)

You see the seed planted in the first parable produces the good wheat in the second parable. The fruit of the Spirit is- love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. ( Gal. 5;22)

Do you want to see the bitter fruit of the old nature?  Here they are also described in Galatians 5- “ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like . I warn you, those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. “  Your old nature will continue to want to manifest these works of the flesh and must be cut back . This is why we are instructed take up the cross daily.  That is why the Word of God is alive and powerful and sharper that a two edged sword. The Word of God the sword- divides asunder the soul and the spirit the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Put on the whole armor of God and use the weapons we have been provided which are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of stronghold. Casting down imaginations  and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10 : 3-5)

It can be frustrated living in the fallen world where we are side by side with tares. In this world we have an enemy who goes about seeking whom he may devour. We are told by our Master- watch and pray lest you fall into temptation.

There is no scarcity in Gods’ Garden which he has planted in my new heart. And every day  a believer has the same opportunity that Adam and Even had in the garden God planted for them- we can walk with Him and talk with Him. And the True Vine and The Constant Gardener will tell us of His everlasting love and lovingly do what He knows is best to produce the most fruit.

Here will be the result- the more you know Him, the more you will love Him. In fact when God commands us to love Him with all our heart- He will then circumcise the flesh away from our heart that we might love Him with all our heart. And the more you love Him, the more you will obey Him and the more you obey Him, the more you will abide in Him and the more you abide in Him, the more fruit you will bear.  And guess what?  The more fruitful you are- the greater your joy.  This is the abundant life. The fruitful life.


How is your God planted garden doing? Is it flourishing?  Is it being pruned?  Is it going through a winter season ?

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14