The Parable of the Wheat and Tares

Parables of Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  54:41
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What are parables?

Instructive stories that contain symbolic significance for a spiritual life
C.H. Dodd defines a parable as “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its application to tease it into active thought”
The term parable can encompass a broad range of meaning, including narrative stories, proverbs, riddles, and even one-liners.
For instance, Jesus’ warning against casting pearls before swine may be classified as a parable. Matthew 7:6
Matthew 7:6 NKJV
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
The church must not endlessly continue to bring the gospel message to those who scorn it. To be sure, patience must be exercised, but there is a limit. A moment arrives when constant resistance to the gracious invitation must be punished by the departure of the messengers of good tidings.
pronounced a curse upon Capernaum, which had failed to take his messages to heart and to apply to itself the lesson taught by his mighty works (Matt. 11:23).
Matthew 11:23 NKJV
And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
It should be acknowledged it is not always possible to restrict a parable to one lesson; for instance, the parable of the Prodigal Son was designed with more than one point in mind.
Some of the best-known Gospel passages are parables. The word “parable” occurs 48 times in the Synoptic Gospels and twice in Hebrews (Heb 9:9; 11:19). Although Jesus used metaphors such as light, vine, gate, and shepherd in the Gospel of John, none of His teachings recorded there are typically classified as parables.

Jesus and Parables

Parables were Jesus’ preferred method for instructing crowds, and they amounted to one third of His recorded teachings.
Jesus occasionally explained His parables, but most of them went unexplained
the parables served two purposes, to reveal and conceal Mark 4:22-23
Mark 4:22–23 NKJV
For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
the parables were meant to enlighten those unenlightened with the truth and to harden those who had a hard-heart. Jesus explains the hard-hearted more clearly in Matthew 13:13-15
Matthew 13:13–15 NKJV
Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
They could understand the parables because of the insight that God gave them, but God did not give this insight to those who rejected Jesus. The word of God is always effective: it brings enlightenment or judgment—enlightenment to the disciples, judgment to those who rejected Jesus.

Common Features in Jesus’ Parables

normally introduced with a question-Jesus spoke many of His parables in response to a question
The parable of the Good Samaritan answers “who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:30-37
The parable of the Mustard Seed answers “what is the kingdom of God like?” Luke 13:19
The parable of the Unmerciful Servant answers “how often shall I forgive my brother?” Matthew 18:23-35
Jesus used everyday images-from agricultural, to a judge, to pharisee and tax collector praying in the temple, etc.
Jesus left His characters nameless-to maximize the broad application of the parable.
Jesus used the kingdom of heaven often in his parables.
Which leads to the cluster of short parables in Matthew chapter 13 from verses 24 through 52 which presents the kingdom as both present and future reality.

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares

Matthew 13:24–30
Matthew 13:24–30 NKJV
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who 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 grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”
Jesus uses agricultural language again in addressing the crowds of people more so than His disciples.
It should be noted that this is one of only a few parables that Jesus explains to His disciples and is only found in Matthew.
This is the first in a series of parables specifically referring to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says, the kingdom of heaven is like… Matthew used a verb in the aorist passive tense form. This is very significant because it indicates a change in the kingdom initiative.
Back in Matthew 3:2 John the Baptist says, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Then in Matthew 4:17 and Matthew 10:7 Jesus says, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The change is a result of Israel’s rejection of Jesus.
In these parables Jesus did not mean that any single person or object in the parable symbolized the kingdom. The narrative itself communicates truth about the kingdom.
Let’s read Jesus’ explanation of the parable beginning in verse 36.
Matthew 13:36–43 (NKJV)
Matthew 13:36–43 NKJV
Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
the man is the Son of Man
the field is the world
the good seeds (wheat) true believers
the (tares) are the sons of the wick one
the enemy is the devil
the servants are the angels
the servants or reapers will gather the (tares) first and cast them into the furnace of fire
then the wheat (true believers) will shine forth in the kingdom of the father.
the kingdom of heaven is present in us now and will come when the Son of Man returns
There are several implications that affect us right now.
1. good and evil will always be found together in the professing church until the end of the world
2. the visible church is set before us as a mixed body. It is a vast field in which (wheat) and (tares) grow side by side. We must expect to find (believers) and (unbelievers), all mingled together in every congregation.
3. the purest preaching of the gospel won’t prevent this.
In every age of the Church, the same state of things has existed.
It was the experience of the early church Fathers. It was the experience of the Reformers; it is the experience of the best ministers at the present hour.
The devil, that great enemy of souls, has always sown “tares.”
4. prudent and strict discipline won’t prevent this. The church won’t ever succeed in obtaining a perfectly pure communion. Hypocrites and deceivers will always creep in. However, we must be careful that our zeal to protect the church don’t root up the (wheat) with them.

“Those who are tares to-day, may be wheat to-morrow.” Augustine

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