Tares Amongst the Wheat
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30 (KJV)
“Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:36-43 (KJV)
The parable of the soils [hearts] and the parable of the wheat and tares are closely connected. There are, however, some differences; 1) the “Soils” represent the hearts of men; and the “field” is the world; 2) The “Seed” is the Word of God (vv. 3-9); and in the tares and wheat the seed is the fruit of God’s Word; 3) The “Sower” is not identified, and in the tares and the wheat the sower is identified as the “Son of man” (v.37). The parable of the soils shows the condition of the hearts of mankind with and without Him. The parable of the wheat and the tares shows the condition of the kingdom of heaven with the King away.
All the parables of Matthew give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Soils” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.
The man who sowed the good seed is the Son of man (vv. 24, 37). This is clearly a Scriptural identifying term for the Messiah, even the One who would give His life as the redeemer of mankind. He is Jesus Christ. He came to call many to Himself, to leave us in the world, for a time, that we might glorify His name, even in the midst of a wicked and adulterous generation.
The Good seed are the children planted in the kingdom of heaven in this world (vv. 24, 38). This shows with incontrovertible evidence that Jesus is speaking of the world in which we live. He tells us that the “Field” is the world. Jesus places each of His followers strategically in this world as it pleases Him. His disciples grow in the midst of the world’s children, and at some points the children of God are almost indistinguishable from the world’s children.
When Jesus speaks “But while men slept” there is probably a likeness to the lethargic behavior of Christians who get so accustomed to the world, and its ways, they just begin to go along to get along. I have often stated that “While we are sleeping is the most dangerous times of our lives”, and I still believe that to be so. What I am about to say is not meant to cause you to fear, but to illustrate the point that needs to be made. While you are sleeping someone could break into your house, come into your bedroom and kill you, and the only way you would know it is when you open your eyes in eternity. People have been known to be resting quite will in their sleep only to never awake in this world again. We are vulnerable while we sleep. “While men slept, his enemy came…” that is when the enemy comes. When God’s people are asleep to the things, the works, the evil of the devil is when lives slip into hell.
Evidence of Christian’s sleeping through attacks is clear when we look at court decisions of 1963, and 1973. In 1963 an atheist woman was allowed before our Supreme Court of the United States of America, and got the teaching of anything Christian, and the Bible thrown out of our Public Schools. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that abortion – the murder of unborn children – was legal. We slept through those tares that came into the field. Maybe they were our wake up call from God. It took long enough. Before there was really any action taken to begin persuading expecting young mothers to pursue other options, and giving them other choices millions and millions of babies had been slaughtered. May God forgive us.
There is some way, and I am unfamiliar with it, for the farmer to tell the difference between the wheat and the tares. It seems quite clear that it was known that the enemy had planted the tares, and the servants were concerned about their removal. The sower/farmer says let the tares remain among the wheat until the harvest. There was a way to identify and separate them at the harvest. During the growth, and maturing of the plants they were so identical, but at the time of harvest there would be a difference. Wheat when it is growing, and reaching for the sun, is green; and even its grains as they grow are green, but when they are nearing maturity, they begin to brown, and die. It seems likely that the stalk of wheat has died at its root; its attachment to the earth. Evidently the tares are still green and still attached to the earth. If that be true then there would be a clear difference for the people harvesting the crop. The Christian dies to the world – at the root – and brings forth much fruit for the glory of the Lord. The tare or worldly professor of Christ continues to cling to the earth, and lives solely for self only awaiting the judgment of the sun.
Satan’s seed is also in the world as imitators of God and His children (vv. 25-26, 38-39). For some reason, which most likely is his pride, the Devil has a vengeful mind toward God, and it seems especially toward the Son of God. He could not defeat Jesus on the cross, so now he goes about “like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus Christ came down to man, as man; to redeem fallen people for the glory of His name. The enemy, the devil, the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Just as Balaam was unable to curse the children of Israel in the wilderness for Balak, the king of Moab; but as his final act he told Balak how to curse them with immoral conduct (Numbers 25; 31:15-20); thus the devil uses infiltration, deception, apostasy, and heresy as means of attempting to destroy the work of God. He plants his children within the kingdom, within local churches, who are not genuine believers. They will attempt to change the structure of church doctrines, and plea for compromise from those who are standing on the principles of God’s Word.
Jesus has said, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). The devil knows that he is a defeated foe of Jesus Christ. Why then would he appear to be attempting the destruction of God, Jesus, and the Church? He hates you and me. We were made in the image of God; the crown of God’s creation. That is partly why he hates us. He hates humanity. Everything he does is connected to his hatred for God and us. He cannot stand the fact that Christians have gained eternal life, and will be in the presence of Jesus and His glory for all eternity. The devil cannot stand the fact that those who have believed Jesus and trusted His finished work are “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17).
One of the ways Satan works in the kingdom is through hypocrisy through hypocrites. These have the confession of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior, but do so either by deceit, or they themselves have been deceived. They are sometimes good, moral and well meaning people; at least in appearance. Some questions you might ask concerning your own heart: 1) Do I love God and His Word more than my own personal opinion or feelings? 2) Am I angered when I hear that my works, or the works of my friends and family are not good enough to get us to heaven? 3) When I see or hear of someone being born again is my heart filled with joy, or do I think, so what? 4) Do I love spending time with God in His Word and in prayer or do I find it time consuming, a bore, and unnecessary? There are several questions that could be asked of ourselves to find out our hearts condition with God. Your answers to these questions will show whether you are a true believer or a hypocrite.
In Jesus’s parable the tares are sown among the wheat under the cover of darkness, and while men slept. The tares are allowed to grow among the wheat so as not to uproot the wheat, since they are so identical while they are growing. Jesus, of course, knows the difference between those who are real and those who are false when it comes to His children in the world, and the children of the devil in the world. Why would He allow the tares to remain? It seems to me that one good reason for that is the fruit. The fruit bears out that there is a difference in the two, and it will be evident for all creation to see. Another reason could be that the Christian grows through suffering and persecution and trial or testing; and many times these “tares” will do just that within the kingdom. Paul warned of “wolves” coming in (Acts 20:27-31). The letter of Jude is a letter filled with warning of apostasy, heresy, and contending for the faith.
The tares could not be pulled out from the wheat because in doing so wheat would be uprooted. Uprooted wheat would not yield any fruit. There is coming a day when Jesus Christ will set all things right, the righteous will stand on His right hand, and those who have rejected Him and His finished work will be separated unto everlasting fire (Revelation 20:10, 15). In the BIBLE EXPOSITION COMMENTARY by Warren W. Wiersbe, he has written,
“What will happen to the tares? God will gather them together and burn them. It is interesting to see that some of this ‘bundling’ is already going on as various religious groups merge and strive for union. Spiritual unity among true Christians is one thing, but religious uniformity among mere professing Christians is quite another. It is difficult to tell the false from the true today; but at the end of the age, the angels will separate them.” p. 46, volume one, Matthew 13.
The servants respond by informing the landowner of the tares in the field (vv.27-28, 39). Remember the landowner has planted “good seed” (v. 24), and since this good seed is the “children of the kingdom”, then from the rest of Scripture and its teaching of sin, forgiveness, justification, redemption, and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ we must reach the conclusion that the seed is good only by the imputation of the goodness of Jesus Christ into this seed. It should not amaze us that the angels would be so protective of the King’s children of the kingdom, and the danger in which they have been placed. Angels are the ministering servants to mankind (Psalm 34:7; 104:4; Hebrews 1:14). These servants seem surprised that someone would hate their lord. They make a quick and rash judgment that if they had acted without the advice of their lord they could have done great damage to the crop.
Looking at this from the explanation side, we see the angels as being angry with their enemy, but they follow our Lord’s advice. Too many times we as Christians are too quick to make judgments, which may not be ours to make. We rush into situations without so much as a prayer, and think God is going to bless us. If we see a Christian brother or sister enter an establishment which is known for selling liquor, having dances, and all kinds of mischief happens in the place; how do we respond? Do we know why they are entering there? Do they have a family member who is there and having a problem? Are they in the establishment telling people about Jesus? That would certainly be the place where the tares would hang out, but the child of the kingdom would only enter an establishment for the aiding of a friend, or foe who needs help. In most if not all situations of this sort it would be wise to go in by twos, and not alone. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many perishing, condemned, and dying people in these dark, despairing, and lonely places.
The child of the kingdom – of God – should be slow to wrath and swift to patience, mercy, grace and love in the work of our Lord. It has been asked by many; “Since there is so much evil in the world, why doesn’t God just get rid of it?” I used to ask God that question until one day He gave me the answer which solved it for me; “If God were to rid the world of evil, He would need to rid the world of me.” In His mercy the Master allows the tares to grow among the wheat that there might be a harvest for His glory. Though tares cannot be changed into wheat, a deceived or deceiving man or woman, can be changed into a child of the kingdom. It is good that the preacher/pastor preach the gospel every Sunday morning and every time the Word is preached. There are ears who need to hear the gospel message, and with the quickening power of God’s Spirit, can save a deceived and deceiving soul from an eternity without Christ.
Could it be that the time of the harvest is determined by the condition of the fruit? (vv. 30,39-43) In John 4:35 Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35 (KJV). When the heads of the wheat are white the farmer knew and knows that it is time for harvest and the time is now. The harvest cannot be put off when the wheat is ready now. The farmer/landowner will be the one who makes the determination of when to harvest. Remember Jesus Himself is the sower/farmer/landowner in this parable.
As children of the kingdom we have no idea when the harvest is going to take place. We know it will, and we know the outcome for those who are not true to the kingdom. At the time of harvest the tares are bound, and notice it does not say that the wheat is bound. The tares will be bound and cast into the fire. This is not done in the threshing process; the threshing is reserved for the wheat; but the tares are identified, separated and bound for the fire; it seems stalk and all.
We must understand that Christians are in the world, but not to participate in the wicked deeds of the world. Our root is in Jesus Christ. The root of the tares are in the world and do not bring forth a fitting fruit. The fruit of the tare is poisonous, pride inducing, and wreaking in the scent of death. Those who are actors of Christianity are the ‘tares’ and go to the fires of hell. Depending on one’s own righteousness is rebellion against God, when He has provided that only the righteousness of Jesus Christ is sufficient. There will be no one in the presence of God throughout all eternity who has not arrived there through Jesus Christ.
The fruit of the righteousness of Jesus Christ in His children will shine in glory as the Son of righteousness shines in His glory. Jesus is the Son of righteousness. He is glorified in all who trust in Him.
-Tim A. Blankenship