Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 Wheat And Tares.
Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven could be likened to a man sowing seed in a field. Matthew just finished recording that the seed is the word, and the soil is the hearts of people. Many of those who hear the word do so only from the wayside, in an uncultivated area as it were. Satan snatches the word out of the hearts of these persons, so that they never come to an understanding of the truth. Another group have stony hearts, too hard for the word to take root and prosper. A third group have too many thorns or weeds in their hearts, which are the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches. The last group are those whose hearts are made receptive to the knowledge of their sin and need for the saviour. These are those in whom the seed bears fruit, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (vv. 18-23).
Now with this parable of the wheat and tares, the seed remains the word sown, but now the distinction is made between the wheat, those who receive the word and bring forth fruit, and the tares, being those who are from seeds scattered by the enemy to try and choke out the wheat so that they do not prosper and bear fruit. This enemy, who is Satan, comes in darkness unawares, and plants the weeds. He has no power to prevent the wheat from being sown and growing up to bear fruit, and he also has no power to uproot the wheat. His only influence is to plant weeds to make it more difficult for the wheat to grow and bear fruit. The weeds absorb the same sun, water, and nutrients of the soil as the wheat, but to a far different end. These are the children of Satan, who enjoy the creaturely benefits of God’s unmerited favour.
God the Father loves his enemies as the Creator and sustainer of all things he has made. This was noted earlier by Matthew, when Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies. “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (5:45). With respect to spiritual matters, it is the Father’s intent that his true children by adoption grow and prosper in the world alongside the weeds or tares, for to uproot the weeds would involve uprooting the wheat as well. We have an example of this in the older testament where some tares of his enemies were allowed to live so that his people might in fact prosper thereby. The wicked will be driven from the earth “little by little” until the church of Christ inherits the land (Ex. 23:30). The two seeds will grow together until the knowledge of the glory of the LORD fills the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14).
Ultimately there will come a time of harvest and judgment. This time will not be a time to sow Messiah’s kingdom, as so many believe. Rather, this will be a time when the Messiah’s kingdom will come to the fruition determined by the Father. It will be a time of harvest, as the time of sowing will be past. However, first in order will be the uprooting of the tares to be thrown into the fire of judgment, then the earth will prosper, and the true children of God will also continue to prosper in it. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt. 5:5). However, despite what we find in this immediate passage, the disciples sought for a fuller explanation, which Matthew picks up at verse 36. There he makes the point that the sower of the good seed is Jesus himself, “the son of Man” (v. 37), and the field is the whole world (v. 38a).
“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” (vv. 38b-40). “This age,” is the age of the Messiah’s kingdom reign. Jesus is the sower, and the wheat are his family, and the earth is his domain. When he sends out his angels to gather, they will be gathering “out of His kingdom,” that is the earth at the end of this age! He will gather together “all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 41-42). Note it well, that which offends and those who “practice lawlessness” will be thrown into the fire of judgment.
The Messiah’s present kingdom reign is a theonomic one, where God’s law is taught and practiced throughout the whole earth. When Jesus returns to harvest his kingdom, the godly seed, those made righteous through the imputation of his righteousness, will then “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (v. 43a). In other words, the kingdom will be given back to the Father. “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under Hid feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’” (I Cor. 15:24-27a) “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (v. 43b).