Monday, June 30, 2014

The Wheat And Tares

Matthew 13:24-30

“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)

Jesus had told his disciples that there were people who would not understand what he was trying to explain, no matter how he explained it.  Rather than wasting time trying to make them understand, he used a parable or story that illustrated the principle.  Those who were capable of understanding the principles would learn from the story and ask questions.  Others would accept the story at face value and not waste his time.

Jesus is reiterating what he taught in Matthew 7:21-23.  ”Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?   And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

There are people who get into the church who are not saved.  Many of them are Satanically inspired and are there expressly to disrupt and contaminate what God intended.  The natural response is to try to eliminate them just as one pulls the weeds in their garden.  Frequently we misidentify what we are pulling out, while other times the roots are so intertwined that bulling the weeds also rips the wheat out of the ground.  Either way we destroyed the wheat crop, which was Satan’s purpose in the first place.

Instead, Jesus said to let them remain.   The wheat heads would form above the tare seed pods and could easily be harvested without collecting the tare seeds.   Once the wheat had been harvested, the field could be burned off to destroy the tares. 

Many pastors develop a series of church standards in and effort to eliminate unbelievers.  Unfortunately, they usually do more harm than leaving them alone would do.  I Corinthians 11 addresses this problem using the illustration of hair lengths of men and women, and how many would demand people meet a certain standard. 

 I Corinthians 11:16 states, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.  Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.  For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.   For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”

Such standards were not from God, and godly men or godly churches would not insist on them.  That they were doing so implied they were not godly and was in fact causing conflict in the church, which as I Corinthians 3:3 makes clear, indicates an unspiritual condition.  “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”  Their efforts were actually hindering the work of God.  God does not need us to separate out the good from the bad because he has more effective ways and will separate them at the judgment.

This in no wise contradicts the teaching in Matthew 18:15-17 or I Corinthians 5 about dealing with those who are involved in overt sin.  A weed which is killing the good plants still needs to be removed.  The goal is to produce a crop, not just to kill the weeds. 

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Humans seem to believe that bigger is better.  As a result we focus on super churches and national organizations or movements to accomplish God’s plan.  Jesus points out that God uses a tiny seed to produce a giant plant in a single year.   Paul makes a similar point in I Corinthians 1:27-29.  “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Many times the big organizations or movements actually hinder God’s plan, sometimes because the bigger it is, the more room there is for tares.  Gideon was confronted with a multitude of Midianites that could not be counted.  He only had thirty thousand people show up to fight them.  Judges 7:2 says, “And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.” 

God would reduce the number from thirty thousand to three hundred men, just one percent of what originally showed up to fight, because he wanted them to know it was his power rather than their prowess that won the victory.  When it was finished they had killed a hundred twenty thousand of the Midianites, four times as many people as had shown up to fight. 

“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Matthew 13:33)

The story of the leaven or yeast in the flour taught the same principle as the story of the mustard seed in an effort to drive it home more firmly.

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35)

Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 78:2 by speaking in parables.  “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.”

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