How many of you have ever planted a garden? If you have, then you know that one of the biggest enemies of a good garden is weeds. Weeds will rob the soil of the nutrients that help your plants to grow and many times they will choke out good plants. What can you do? Well, you could take a hoe and chop down the weeds, but if you do that, you will probably chop down some of the good plants by accident.
Another way to get rid of the weeds is to buy some weed killer. This stuff will really kill the weeds. The biggest problem with weed killer is that it doesn’t know a thistle from a tomato plant. It kills every plant that it touches. Sometimes, it is best just to leave the weeds alone until it is time to harvest the crop. Then you can separate the weeds from the good plants.
One time, Jesus told a story that compared his church to a garden that was infested with weeds. Sometimes there may be people in the church that don’t really belong. They do things that aren’t very loving and they don’t seem to believe what the Bible teaches. They sometimes say hateful things about the other members of the church and try to hurt them. They are like weeds in a garden.
The parable of the wheat and the darnel answers two questions: How can good and evil coexist in this age? What should we do about it? The key to understanding this parable is to think in pairs: there are two planters, two plants, two plans and two prospects.
The field where the seeds are sown represents the world. The man who sows good seeds is Jesus. The man who sows darnel is Satan. Christians represent good seeds. Darnel represents evil people. The harvest represents the end of the world. The reapers represent the angels.
In Jesus’ day, after a field had been sown with wheat, a mischief-maker might sneak into the field and sow darnel over the original crop. Darnel looked almost identical to wheat, but it had no market value. Only at harvest time, when the crop was fully grown, could the farmer distinguish the true wheat from the worthless darnel.
In its initial stages of growth, darnel closely resembled wheat, and that resemblance made it almost impossible to identify. As the plants matured, the roots of the weeds and the wheat intermingled, making them almost impossible to separate. Any attempt to pull the weeds also pulled the wheat. Separation was necessary because darnel was both bitter and mildly toxic. If it was not removed before milling, darnel ruined the flour. The usual solution was to separate the grains after threshing by spreading them on a flat surface and having people remove the darnel, which was a distinct colour at this stage, by hand.
This is how Satan works. He will plant his seeds among Christians, including in the church. They will talk like Christians and use words that Christians use. When they do something evil, people will say, “I can’t believe that a Christian would do such a thing!” Maybe they were darnel among the wheat. Christians are capable of sinning, but some people are imitations.
The servants and the owner had two different plans for protecting the good seed. The servants wanted to uproot the tares sown by the enemy and dispose of them immediately. But the owner wisely insisted that both be allowed to grow until the harvest. Otherwise, the wheat would be destroyed because it could not be distinguished from the tares.
We will always have darnel among the wheat. We will always have plants that undermine the Word of God. It’s not our job to weed those people out. We don’t see their hearts. Our concern should not be who the hypocrites are, but whether we are hypocrites ourselves. Our job is to take care of ourselves, to take heed and make sure that we are true believers.
Because there are two sowers, evil is in our midst. We are uncomfortable today with the devil and for the most part preachers ignore it in their preaching. The ignored devil sneaks in by back doors through the appeal of the occult, the magical, the falsely supernatural, prophecy conferences, astrology, the New Age movement or other means. The devil doesn’t cease to exist because we say he ceases to exist. On the contrary, he reappears in more grotesque or subtle forms in popular or polite culture.
God allows the righteous and the wicked to live alongside one another, and He has decided not to tell us why. We must conclude that somehow and in some way, it glorifies God to allow this to happen. We must leave these questions with our faith in the character of God.
The situation will change one day, but for now we must remember that not everyone has faith. It’s useless for us to do the sorting. Our standards are lower than God’s perfect standards. Besides, a bad seed or evil person might turn out to be a good seed or a faithful, righteous person. If we do what we think is right by sorting what we think is evil from what we think is good, we might put the good with the evil and vice versa. If we try to rid the church of the weeds in its midst, we might not recognize its true members.
For example, an expert who was evaluating a potential football coach said of him, “He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks motivation.” He was talking about Vince Lombardi, who later became the successful football coach quoted for saying, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Eighteen publishers turned down a story about a seagull written by Richard Bach. His book, entitled “Johnathan Livingston Sea Gull”, was finally published in 1970 and in five years it sold more than 7 million copies in the United States alone. After legendary Fred Astaire’s screen test the director who evaluated him wrote, “Can’t act, slightly bald, can dance a little.” It just proves the old saying, “Ya’ just never know!”
We don’t know why God allows evil in the world, the church and our hearts. The parable doesn’t answer this, but it doesn’t ignore the problem of evil in our midst. It doesn’t even give an easy answer to the questions, “Will evil or good have the last word? Who’s going to win?”
Jesus rejected the idea of pulling up the darnel. He said that it is to be left alone until the harvest (or judgment). The wheat represents Christians and the darnel represents the enemies of Christianity. One day the Lord will send his angels (reapers) to separate the tares from the wheat. The tares will be burned, but the wheat will be gathered into the barn (heaven). Satan will do all he can to destroy Christians, but he will be fully exposed and dealt with at the final judgment.
The future of the darnel (the lawless) and the wheat (the righteous) are described in verses 40-43. The lawless are destined to experience the fires of hell, where they will live in eternal misery. Conversely, the righteous will live in eternal radiance and joy. Their King will also be their Father!
Satan does not sow thorns or briars or brush; he sows darnel, which is impossible to distinguish from genuine wheat until harvest time. In the world today, children of the kingdom are sown in a field where they are saturated, entwined, covered and surrounded by the children of the evil one-and sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. The true sower of the seed of salvation is God himself. Only He has the power to change hearts.
The righteous are those who come to Jesus in faith to be cleansed of their sin and guilt. Jesus will clothe them with His own righteousness. Every good seed that is planted in our hearts comes from God. He prepares the soil of our hearts. He will till it, but we must prepare the soil. We do this by the way we live our lives. We must allow the Word of God to inform, shape and guide all aspects of our being in the world. Part of this process includes sharing what we learn from the Scriptures.
This parable is a story of grace for us. As we consider our own lives and recall the mistakes we have made and the wrongs we have done, most of us are glad that we have had the time to change and work things out. Most of us are also glad that we have had the space to let the wheat grow and bear a rich harvest.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1305-1306)
- Augsberger, M.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 24: Matthew (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982, p. 18)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- The New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1-Matthew and Mark. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Jude Siciliano, OP, “First Impressions, 16th Sunday (A).” Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
- “Sower.” Retrieved from Christianity.email@example.com
- T.M. Moore, “Love Sows.” Retrieved from www.ailble.org
- Greg Laurie, “Cheap Imitations.” Retrieved from www.harvest.org
- Greg Laurie, “What Exactly is a Tare?” Retrieved from www.harvest.org
- Richard Neill Donovan, “Exegesis for Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.” Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
- Pastor Dick Woodward, “Why Evil?” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- “Weeds in the Garden.” Retrieved from www.Sermons4Kids.com