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Parable of the Weeds

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

     Thank you for listening as we look into the Word of God and share the truths with others and certainly apply it to our own lives.

     The title of our sermon is: Parable of the Weeds.

Our text is taken from the New Testament.  The gospel of Matthew, chapter 13 and verses 24 thru 30.  Please listen to the Word of God.

     Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds 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?’  ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.  The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  No, he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them I n bundles to be burned: then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”

This is the Word of God.

     In the first parable of Jesus Christ in Matthew 13 “The Parable of the Sower” the focus is what happens to the good seed but in this second parable: “The Parable of the Weeds” the focus is what happens to the bad seed.  The theme is still “the kingdom of heaven is like…”  The thrust of the parable again is people’s decisions. Regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ during the secret or mystery phase of the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God – that is the church age in particular.  Yet there will also be decisions for or against Christ during the millennial phase of God’s kingdom.

     Matthew 13:24 “…the kingdom of heaven is like…”  Merrill F. Unger defines God’s kingdom as “all created intelligences, both in heaven and on earth, who are willingly subject to God and thus in fellowship with him.  The kingdom of heaven is any type of rulership God may assert on the earth at a given period.”  Someone has written “The kingdom of God is not realm but reign; not domain but domination.  The kingdom of God does not exist because of your effort.  It exists because God reigns.  Our part is to enter his kingdom and bring our life under his sovereign will.”

     From Matthew 13:25 “…while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat.”  These weeds are probably darnel, a type of weed that can hardly be distinguished from wheat until the head matures.  In some translations, the term “tares” is used.  Tares is a variety of darnel weed.  In ancient times, out of hatred or revenge an enemy would try to destroy or greatly reduce the value of an adversary’s wheat crop by sowing this weed.  It was actually a common enough crime that Romans had a specific law against this malicious act.  Matthew 13:26 “When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.”  It is not uncommon for a few weeds to grow up with the wheat; but a great quantity of weeds made it obvious that their crop was intentionally attacked.

     Matthew 13:27 “…where then did the weeds come from?”  The owner’s servants realized the seriousness of this intentional attack.  Matthew 13:28 “An enemy did this, he replied.  The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?””  That is pull up the weeds; the servants were concerned the weeds would weaken even overwhelm the wheat.  From verse 29 “No, he answered, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.”  The wiser owner of the field knew that more harm would be done to the wheat by pulling up the weeds.  The plant roots would have become closely intertwined.  Furthermore, the servants may have mistaken young wheat as weeds.

     In verse 30 “Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time, I will tell the harvesters, first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into the barn.”  Only at harvest time could the wheat be distinguished from the weeds with certainly.  The harvesters would be wiser than the servants to harvest only the wheat.  All of this foregoing agricultural detail the Master Teacher uses to illustrate the spiritual application which Christ reveals clearly in Matthew 13:36-43.

     Matthew 13:37 “…the one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.”  That is Jesus Christ who is also owner of the field according to Matthew 13:24. In Matthew 13:38 “…the field is the world.”  Whereas, the Son of God is the owner of the world obviously the enemy also has evil activity in the world.  Verse 38 also reveals “…the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.  The weeds are the sons of the evil one.”  So, the wheat represents the saved of the kingdom of heaven and the weeds represent the lost of the kingdom of the evil one.

     In verse 39 “…the enemy who sows them is the devil.”  So obviously the enemy of Jesus Christ and of the saved in the world is the evil one, the devil, who also has sons – those who belong to him.  Verse 39 also reveals: “The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.”  So, the gathering of the sons of the kingdom of heaven, the saved, is at the end of the age when Jesus Christ returns to this earth according to Matthew 24:30-31 by the Lord’s angels.

     From Matthew 13:40 “…as the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire.”  Reveals the destiny and demise of the sons of the evil one plainly.  Further elaborated by Jesus Christ in verses 41-42: “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.”  Whereas the sons of the kingdom of heaven also have an eternal destiny completely opposite.  Matthew 13:43 “…then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”  In stark contrast to the lost, the saved will radiate the glory of God.  From Daniel 12:3 “…those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens…”  Christ ends his explanation of the “Parable of the Weeds” with a warning: “He who has ears, let him hear.”

     John MacArthur, a fine expositor of scripture writes: “Every person who is uncertain about his relationship to God should ask himself if he is wheat or merely a tare that looks like wheat, if he is a child of God or if of the evil one.  If he does not belong to God, he can come to God, because God is in the business of making wheat out of tares, saints out of sinners.  Those who are sure they are sons of the kingdom should hear what Jesus says here in order that their attitude toward the world might be the merciful, compassionate attitude of their Lord – who has called them to witness rather than condemn, to love rather than hate, to show mercy rather than judgement.  In that way, we prove ourselves “blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we will appear as lights in the world.”  As according to Philippians 2:15.

     Brother Robert Garrett, another fine Bible expositor, insightfully writes: “This mystery phase of the kingdom is not what the Old Testament prophets prophesied concerning the kingdom.  Instead of being established upon the earth in power and glory, as the prophets declared it would be, the kingdom resembles a field in which wheat and weeds are growing together: It is the form the kingdom assumes under the administration of men during the absence of the King.  Be assured that the kingdom of prophecy has not been given up.  It has not been canceled.  It has not been transferred to the church.  The time of its setting up has only been delayed until these secret counsels of God have been accomplished.  Once this mystery phase has been accomplished and the King returns, the kingdom of Old Testament prophecy will be set up, then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

     Also, Warren Wiersbe, another fine expositor of scripture shares his insights regarding the “Parable of the Tares” or weeds.  “Satan cannot uproot the plants (true Christians), so he plants counterfeit Christians in their midst.  We must beware of Satan’s counterfeits.  He has counterfeit Christians from Second Corinthians 11:26 who believe a counterfeit gospel, Galatians 1:6-9.  He encourages a counterfeit righteousness from Romans 10:1-3, and even has a counterfeit church in Revelation 2:9.  At the end of the age, he will produce a counterfeit Christ as told in Second Thessalians 2:1-12.  We must oppose Satan and expose his lies.  But we must also sow the Word of God and bear fruit in the place where he has planted us.  Spiritual unity among true Christians is one thing, but religious uniformity among mere professing Christians is quite another.  Sometimes, it is difficult to tell the false from the true today; but at the end of the age, the angels will separate them.”

     So, listeners may the admonition of scripture be our heartfelt reality as believers.  Second Peter 1:10-11 “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” May this be true of each one of us.


     David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33