What on Earth have we done with the Teachings of Jesus?
Jesus often spoke in parables. Earthly stories with deep heavenly meanings. There are those in the world who are like lost sheep. Those who need to be restored back to the fold. As Jesus told these few parables, He spoke in the presence of the religious leaders of the day – the Pharisees. They, like many religious leaders today, thought they had the monopoly on the grace of God and believed their place was secure in heaven. But Jesus came to challenge their self-righteous beliefs and call the ones who felt they had been forgotten. The weeds among the wheat.
God the Judge (from Psalm 75) We give thanks to You, O God Your greatness we proclaim. We tell of the wonderful things You have done Praise be to Your Name. God says ‘I am still ruling in My justice Through all the long delay I still uphold the order of the world. I will judge with fairness on the appointed day. Though every living creature trembles On the earth’s shaken face, Yet it is I who hold the foundations firm For I have set them in place. I warned the proud to cease their arrogance I told the wicked to lower their insolent gaze To stop being stubborn and proud To end their boastful ways.’ Judgement does not come from the north or south Nor from the east or west. Promotion and power come from God alone He brings one down, He causes another to be blessed In the Lord’s hand there’s a cup of sparkling wine. It is His judgement of the earth. He lifts it up. Then He pours it out and the wicked of the earth To the very last drop, drink the contents of the cup. But as for me I will glorify Him forever To Jacob’s God I will sing praises with all my might For cutting off the strength of the wicked And for increasing the power of the upright. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
The Weeds among the Wheat
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 in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
Henry says – In these verses, we have another reason why Christ preached by parables. All these things He spoke in parables because the time was not yet come for the more clear and plain discoveries of the mysteries of the Kingdom. Christ tries all ways and methods to do good to the souls of men, and to make impressions upon them. If men will not be instructed and influenced by plain preaching, He will try with parables.
How welcome should the gospel be to us
In Psalm 78, a Psalm of David it reads, ‘I will open my mouth in a parable.’ What is said there also applies to Christ’s sermons. He preached things which had been kept secret from the foundation of the world. The mystery of the gospel had been hid in God, in His councils and decrees, from the beginning of the world. Eph. 3:9. Compare Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; Col. 1:26.
If we delight in the record of ancient things, and in the revelation of secret things, how welcome should the gospel be to us? It was from the foundation of the world and has been wrapped up in types and shadows, which are now done away with. The secret things have now been revealed as belonging to us and to our children, Deut. 29:29.
Christ preached in parables which are wise sayings which help to engage attention and foster a diligent search. The disciples’ requested that their Master explain to them the parable of the tares or weeds (Matt. 13:36). Jesus sent the multitude away and it is to be feared many of them went away no wiser than they came. They heard the sound of words but that was all. It is sad to think how many go away from sermons without the word of grace in their hearts.
We must seek to converse with Him alone
Christ went back into the house, not so much for his own rest but for particular conversations with His disciples. The disciples laid hold of the opportunity, and they came to Him. Those who would be wise must discern and improve their opportunities, especially in conversing with Christ. We must seek to converse with Him alone, in secret meditation and prayer. It is very good, when we return from our assembling together, to talk over what we have heard. We then help one another to understand and remember it, and to be affected with it. For we lose the benefit of many a sermon by vain and unprofitable conversation after it.
See (Luke 24:32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”) (Deut. 6:6, 7 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts). It is especially good to ask of the ministers of the Word the meaning of the word.
The disciples’ request to their Master was, Tell us the meaning of the parable of the tares. This implied an acknowledgement of their ignorance, which they were not ashamed to make. It is probable they understood the general scope of the parable, but they desired to understand it more particularly. They who are more aware of their ignorance are more rightly disposed for Christ’s teaching. He will teach the humble (Ps. 25:8, 9). If any man lack instruction, let him ask of God. Christ explained the previous parable unasked, but for the exposition of this they ask Him. The mercies we have received must be improved upon, both for our direction and encouragement in prayer. Christ is always ready to answer such desires from His disciples.
Christ cares for it and the devil is at enmity against it
The main drift of the parable is to represent to us the present and future state of the Kingdom of Heaven, the gospel church. Christ cares for it and the devil is at enmity against it. Therefore there is a mixture of good and bad. The visible church is the Kingdom of Heaven even though there be many hypocrites in it, Christ still rules in it as a King. Yet there is a remnant in it, that are the true subjects and heirs of heaven, from whom, as the better part, it is denominated. The church is the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth.
Going over the particulars of the parable. He who sows the good seed is the Son of man. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the field, the Lord of the harvest. He is the Sower of good seed. When He ascended on high, He gave gifts to the world. Whatever good seed there is in the world, it all comes from the hand of Christ, and is of His sowing. These may be in truths preached, graces planted and souls sanctified. All are good seed, and all are owing to Christ.
Ministers are instruments in Christ’s hand to sow good seed. They are employed by Him and are under Him. The success of their labours depends purely upon His blessing. It may then be said, It is Christ, and no other, who sows the good seed. He is the Son of man, one of us, that His terror might not make us afraid. The Son of man, the Mediator has that authority.
The world is Christ’s field
The field is the world. It is a world of mankind, a large field, capable of bringing forth good fruit. The world here is the visible church, scattered all over the world, not confined to one nation. In the parable it is called His field; the world is Christ’s field. All things are delivered unto Him from the Father. Whatever power and interest the devil has in the world, it is usurped and unjust. When Christ comes to take possession, He comes whose right it is. It is His field, and because it is His, He takes care to sow it with good seed.
The good seed are the children of the Kingdom, the true saints. They are the children of the Kingdom; not in profession only, as the Jews were (Matt. 8:12), but in sincerity. They are incorporated in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ the great King of the church. They are the good seed and are precious as seed, Ps. 126:6.
The seed is the substance of the field; so is the holy seed, Isa. 6:13. The seed is scattered, so are the saints. They are dispersed, here one and there another, though in some places thicker sown than in others. The seed is that from which fruit is expected. What fruit of honour and service God has from this world He has from the saints, whom He has sown unto Himself in the earth, Hos. 2:23.
They are tares in the field of this world
The tares or weeds are the children of the wicked one. Here is the character of sinners, hypocrites, and all profane and wicked people. They are the children of the devil, the wicked one. Though they do not own his name, yet they bear his image. They do his bidding and from him they have their education. He rules over them and he works in them, Eph. 2:2; John 8:44.
They are tares in the field of this world and they do no good only hurt. The tares are unprofitable in themselves, and hurtful to the good seed, both by temptation and persecution. They are weeds in the garden. They have the same rain, sunshine and soil, as the good plants, but are good for nothing. God has so ordered it, that good and bad should be mixed together in this world. In this the good are exercised and the bad left inexcusable.
The enemy who sowed the tares is the devil. He is a sworn enemy to Christ and all that is good. He is an enemy to the field of the world, which he endeavours to make his own by sowing his tares in it. Ever since he became a wicked spirit himself, he has been industrious to promote wickedness, and has made it his business, aiming to counterwork against Christ.
In the parable the seeds were sown while men slept. Satan watches all opportunities, and lays hold of all advantages, to propagate vice and profaneness. He works against particular persons when reason and conscience sleep, when they are off their guard. We need therefore to be sober, and vigilant. It was in the night, for that is the sleeping time. Satan rules in the darkness of this world which gives him the opportunity to sow tares, Ps. 104:20.
This is wheat and that is tares
The enemy, when he had sown the tares, went his way (Matt. 13:25), that it might not be known who did it. When Satan is doing the greatest mischief, he studies most to conceal himself. His design is in danger of being spoiled if he be seen in it. Therefore, when he comes to sow tares, he transforms himself into an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11:13, 14. He went his way, as if he had done no harm.
The tares did not appear till the blade sprung up, and brought forth fruit, Matt. 13:26. There is a great deal of secret wickedness in the hearts of men, which hide under the cloak of a plausible profession, but it will break out in the end. The good seed and the tares, lie for a time under the clods. When at first they spring up it is hard to distinguish them. But when a trying time comes, and the fruit is to be brought forth then they can be seen. When good is to be done that has difficulty and hazard attending it, then you will discern between the sincere and the hypocrite. Then you may say, this is wheat and that is tares.
The servants complained to their master (Matt. 13:27); Sir, didn’t you not sow good seed in your field? No doubt he did. Whatever is amiss in the church, we are sure it is not of Christ. The rise of errors, scandals and the growth of profaneness, are matter of great grief to all the servants of Christ. This especially to His faithful ministers, who are directed to complain of it to Him. It is sad to see such tares, such weeds, in the garden of the Lord and to see the good soil wasted. It casts a sad reflection on the name and honour of Christ, as if His field were no better than the field of the slothful, all over grown with thorns.
An enemy has done this
The Master was quickly aware of how it happened (Matt. 13:28); An enemy has done this. He does not lay the blame upon the servants for they could not help it. They had done what was in their power to prevent it. The ministers of Christ who are faithful and diligent, shall not be judged by Christ. They also should not be reproached by men, for the mixtures of bad with good, hypocrites with the sincere, in the field of the church. All such offences will come and they shall not be laid to our charge, if we do our duty, even when it does not have the desired success.
The servants wanted to have these tares rooted up. “Will you allows us to go and do it quickly?” Note the impulsive zeal of Christ’s servants. Even before they have consulted with their Master they are sometimes ready to root out all that they presume to be tares.
The Master very wisely prevented this (Matt. 13:29), No lest while you gather up the tares, you root up the wheat also with them. It is not possible for any man to distinguish between tares and wheat, because he may be mistaken. Christ in His wisdom and grace would rather permit the tares rather than endanger the wheat. Certainly we are to withdraw from scandalous offenders, those who are openly the children of the wicked one. Though discipline may be applied but great caution and moderation must be used, lest the wheat be trodden down or even plucked up.
Have patience with them
The wisdom from above, is pure and is peaceable and those who are in opposition must not be cut off, but instructed, and with meekness. (2 Tim. 2:25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth). The tares, if continued under the means of grace, may become good corn. Therefore have patience with them.
The harvest is the end of the world, Matt. 13:39. This world will have an end, though it long continue, it will not always continue. Time will shortly be swallowed up in eternity. At the end of the world, there will be a great harvest-day, a day of judgment. At harvest all is ripe and ready to be cut down, both the good and the bad are ripe at the great-day, Rev. 6:11. It is the harvest of the earth, Rev. 14:15. At harvest the reapers cut down all that is before them, not a corner is left behind. So too at the great day all must be judged (Rev. 20:12, 13).
God has set a harvest-time (Hos. 6:11), and it shall not fail, Gen. 8:22. At harvest every man reaps as he has sowed. Every man’s ground, seed, skill and industry, will be manifested: see Gal. 6:7, 8. Then they who sowed precious seed, will come again with rejoicing (Ps. 126:5, 6), with the joy of harvest (Isa. 9:3). When the sluggard, who would not plough because of the cold, shall beg, and have nothing (Prov. 20:4). They shall cry, Lord, Lord, but it will be in vain. To those who sowed to the flesh it shall be a day of grief, and of desperate sorrow, Isa. 17:11.
Then shall the right
The reapers are the angels. They shall be employed, in the great day, in executing Christ’s righteous sentences, Matt. 25:31. The angels are skilful, strong, and swift, obedient servants to Christ. They are holy enemies to the wicked, and faithful friends to all the saints, and therefore fit to be employed. He who reaps receives wages, and the angels will not be unpaid for their attendance. He who sows, and he who reaps, shall rejoice together (John 4:36). That is the joy of heaven in the presence of the angels of God.
Let us pray, as David, Lord, gather not my soul with sinners (Ps. 26:9), but let it be bound in the bundle of life, with the Lord our God, 1 Sam. 25:29. Let them be sifted from the chaff of their own corruptions.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. It is their present honour, that God is their Father. Now are we the sons of God (1 John 3:2); our Father in heaven is King there. Christ, when He went to heaven, went to His Father, and our Father, John 20:17. It is our Father’s house, His palace and throne, Rev. 3:21. What honour is in reserve for them, that they shall shine forth as the sun in that Kingdom.
Here they are obscure and hidden (Col. 3:3), their beauty is eclipsed by their poverty, and their own weaknesses and infirmities. Reproach and disgrace clouds them. But then they shall shine forth as the sun from behind a dark cloud. At the great day they will shine forth publicly before all the world, their bodies will be made like Christ’s glorious body. They shall shine by reflection, with a light borrowed from the Fountain of light. Their sanctification will be perfected, and their justification published. God will own them for His children, and will produce the record of all their services and sufferings for His name. They shall shine as the sun, the most glorious of all visible beings.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. May I be one who has the word of grace in my heart and has a heart that is ripe for receiving Your Word. May I be in pursuit of wisdom and constant enhancement in my spiritual life. Cause me to always be conversing with Christ, seeking to converse with Him alone, in secret meditation and prayer. May I help others to understand and remember Your Word and to be affected by it. I declare that I am aware of my ignorance, may I always be positioned for Your teaching. Let my heart always be humble and so teachable.
Cause me to be an instrument in Your hand to sow good seed. May I be employed by You and so under You. I know that the success of my labours depends purely upon Your blessing. It may then be said, It is Christ, and no other, who sows the good seed. Cause me to be a person of sincerity. May I be incorporated in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ the great King of the church. Cause me to be part of the good and precious seed in Your hand from which fruit is manifest.
May I be sober and vigilant. May I not be impulsive in rooting out all that I presume to be tares. But I pray that in Your mercy do not gather my soul with sinners, but let it be bound in the bundle of life with You. Let me be sifted from the chaff of my own corruptions that You be glorified in and through my life and souls saved. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.