Responsive Reading: Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43
Key Verse(s): Matt. 13:30
Background Scripture: Matt. 7:15-23
As we have seen the past couple of weeks, God is like a farmer that went into His field and scattered seed. Again, I say to you, no gardener scatters seed and wishes for the seed not to take root, not to grow, nor produce a crop to harvest. God is no different; He is heavily invested in His field as He is looking to have a good harvest. Every last one of us is a part of that field, and scripture repeatedly tells us that God is going to come and harvest His field. So, I ask you today, are you ready for His harvest? Will you be a part of the harvest of God?
The “Kingdom of Heaven”
I kicked off this series of sermons by taking a look at Jesus speaking of the kingdom of God being like a growing seed to all of those who had gathered unto Him by the sea (Mark 4:26-29). Today, we will pick up with Jesus sharing another parable to the same people: The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus stated that the “kingdom of heaven” is like a man who sowed good seed in his field (Matt. 13:24). The phrase “kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven” are often used interchangeably to speak of the eternal dwelling place of God. Throughout Matthew’s gospel, the phrase the “kingdom of heaven” is mentioned 32 times with 8 of those times appearing here in Matthew 13. I guess there must be some great significance to the kingdom (I say that sarcastically to all of you).
John the Baptist preached that the “kingdom of heaven” was at hand (Matt. 3:2); the kingdom wasn’t stationary as it was drawing near as the ministry of Christ was coming. When Christ began His earthly ministry, He also preached that the “kingdom of heaven” was at hand (Matt. 4:17); Christ – the kingdom of heaven – was now in the world. So, yes, heaven certainly is a location that’s been promised to the poor, the persecuted, the righteous, and the faithful (Matt. 5:1-12).
However, as we have seen in recent weeks, the kingdom of heaven is a phrase that has been used to speak of the spiritual state of our world as it applies to the kingdom of heaven. The phrase has been used to ask the question: is the world ready for the coming reign of the Lord because His reign is at hand. I ask all of you today, are you ready for the coming harvest of God?
Are you ready for the coming of God
Now, Jesus taught this parable to speak to the state of our world. As we already know, the owner and sower of the good seed in the field, is the Son of Man — Jesus (Matt. 13:37). Jesus then told the disciples that the good seeds in the field are representative of the sons of the kingdom – the true and faithful believers (Matt. 13:38). So, we should understand, there is some good in the world; they are those that genuinely believe in the only begotten Son of God.
However, we know that the field – the world – is not pristine. The world, we say, is a world of sin and it is seemingly getting worse and worse. From the parable of the sower, we know that three-fourths (75%) of the field is in terrible shape; there’s stony surfaces, thorny surfaces, and surfaces like the edge of a field. So, 75% of the world, at the least, has nothing to be harvested by God; plainly speaking, most of the world cannot be saved.
The Kingdom of Heaven Condition of the World
The reason I have preached about the condition of the world over the past few weeks is because the harvest of God is drawing near – He is coming. God desires for the seed He has planted to flourish but sadly, it has not truly flourished. So, why is that? Why is the world in such bad condition, spiritually?
Attack of the enemy
In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus gives us an answer to how this happened. Jesus explained that after the owner of the field had sown good seed, while men slept, had an enemy that snuck in and sowed tares in his field (Matt. 13:25). Why do you suppose the enemy did that? Simple answer: no enemy wants to see their enemy prosper, and this enemy was trying to ruin the owner’s field.
Now, after sharing the parable with the people, Jesus spoke to the disciples to give them more clarity about the parable. As we already know, Jesus was the one that sowed the good seed. The enemy that sowed tares, Jesus stated, was the devil (Matt. 13:39). The devil, we should understand, sowed tares because he doesn’t want to see the Lord, and those with Him, prosper.
Now, I want you to pay very close attention to when Jesus said the enemy sowed the tares; Jesus said that it was not while the owner slept but while men slept (Matt 13:25). Let’s be clear about this statement: Jesus was not saying that God went to sleep and the devil snuck around; God does not slumber nor does He sleep (Ps. 121:4)!
“While men slept” speaks to mankind – the world – being asleep, spiritually, after Jesus had sown the Word of God. If you think about it, mankind’s spiritual sleep actually began in the garden when Adam and Eve were asleep to the deceptions of the devil. Now, a few did begin to wake out of their sleep and received the law from the Lord, but others rolled over in their beds and kept sleeping after the law was given.
Jesus then stepped into the room, turned the light on to wake more of us up, but only a few woke up to the light; the rest chose to pull the cover further over their eyes and remain asleep. While many of us remain asleep, spiritually, Satan continues to sow tares in the field. If it is not clear, the devil is ruining the harvest of God because so many of us are still asleep while he is dancing in the field.
The world is a spiritual mess
So, there are tares all over God’s field. For those of you that may be wondering what a tare is: a tare is a weed that looks similar to wheat in wheat’s early stages of growth. Spiritually speaking, Jesus said that the tares in the field represent the sons of the wicked one (Matt. 13:38); they have grown from the seed of Satan’s doctrine. On that note, because tares look similar to wheat, that would mean that Satan’s doctrine is an imitation of God’s doctrine; it may look and sound right but it’s not right.
What makes matters worse is where Satan’s seed is able to take root and grow. In the parable, Jesus states that when the grain, the wheat, had begun to sprout, the tares also appeared (Matt. 13:26). Think about that statement for a moment: what ground can the wheat grow in? The good ground, right? So, even on the good ground where the good seed was able to take root, Satan’s seed is able to take root and grow among the good!
I want you to understand that this speaks to the results of Satan’s spiritual warfare against the Lord in our world. Let me remind you that Paul said that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). Jesus spoke of this when He warned believers to beware of false prophets who will come among sheep in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly, are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15).
So, to speak very plainly for a moment, Satan’s doctrine is all over the place; it is the world’s doctrine, and sadly, many people live by it. How widespread is Satan’s doctrine in the world? His doctrine lives in our homes, in our neighbor’s homes, our workplaces, in schools, other public places, and as Paul said, even in the church building today.
Again, I repeat to you, the Lord desires to have a good harvest, but the devil has worked to ruin the harvest of God! In every crack and corner of the world, Satan has sown his seed so that God has little to nothing to harvest. I tell you, I don’t know any gardeners that desire to ever harvest weeds, and you better believe Satan knows that! Do you believe that the tares of the field will be part of the harvest of God?
The Good With the Bad
Now, when the servants pointed out to the owner that tares were growing among the wheat, they asked if they should go and pull up the tares (Matt. 13:28). As we know, pulling up weeds is common to planters and to folks, like me, that care for their yard. Weeds are very harmful; they live off the same nutrients as good plants. So weeds can hinder the growth of the good in the field.
Though pulling up weeds can be helpful to good plants, if you don’t pull them up carefully, you may end up pulling up the good plant. With that in mind, the owner of the field responded to the servants, “No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them (Matt. 13:29).”
Some people often wonder, why does the Lord allow evil to exist with the good? The question is actually a good question if you truly desire to learn about God’s love, however, many people turn this question into a thought that implies God is asleep or just doesn’t care what’s happening. As I said earlier, such a thought couldn’t be further from the truth as the Lord is heavily invested in His garden; He tends to it all the time.
Why does the Lord allow the bad to grow with the good? It is because God does not want the good grain growing to be pulled up before it is ripe and ready to be harvested! In the key verse, we will see the owner say to the servants to “let both grow together” and wait until the time of the harvest to pull up anything.
Now, some view this as God not caring about evil, but the truth is that God does care about evil, however, His desire for the good grain to reach its full potential outweighs the bad. I repeat to you that God is love and in His love, the Lord is not going to cut you off from reaching your full potential. As we saw last week, the Lord tends to you; He prunes you so that you are able to reach your full potential and bear much fruit in the field!
You see, if God did not care about us, He would have simply burnt down the field and burned all of the good with the bad. However, as you have heard me say repeatedly the past few weeks, the Lord did not plant you to not see you grow and reach your full potential. So, yes, the Lord allows the bad to grow with the good because He has no desire to destroy the good as we are growing in His field.
The fear that many of us have is that the bad weed growing beside us will hinder us in our growth. Let me remind you again that the Lord knows what He is doing in His garden. God’s thoughts and ways, I remind you, are higher than ours (Is. 55:8-9). We will complain that the world is getting worse and worse, however, we must also realize that some good, some righteousness, has taken root and is also growing in the field.
Yes, there is bad in the world but God has given to all who are righteous, the food we need to grow into the fullness of Christ. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we should not be as children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:13-14). Because God has allowed us to grow to our full potential, we stand tall in the world of the one true doctrine of God; we are the testimony of the Lord’s work – the harvest of God!
The Harvest of God
Jesus once looked out at a field with His disciples, and He said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me … lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest (John 4:34-35).”
Wheat separated from the tares
A field that is whitened means that the grain that has been growing in the field has reached its full potential; it is ripe and ready to be harvested. If you were to see wheat in the field when it is ready to be harvested, it will appear as a whitened field. Any tares that may have been growing alongside the wheat will no longer look like the ripened wheat.
At the time of the harvest, the owner of the field, Jesus said, would send the reapers into the field and gather together the tares in bundles to be burned (Matt. 13:30). You see, by the time of the harvest, the wheat and the tares will no longer look the same; the wheat will have ripened in the field and shown its fruit.
Jesus explained to the disciples that on the day of the harvest, He will send the angels to gather out of His kingdom (the earth) all things that offend and practice lawlessness. You, the soul of the fully convicted sinner looks drastically different in comparison to the soul of the fully convicted believer. Not only that, but the fruit born from the believer and the sinner is also a great deal different as well.
Those who the devil’s doctrine took root in and grew to be a weed in God’s field; they produced rotten fruit that is of the world; they will not be a part of the harvest of God because their fruit is rotten. The Lord has determined that the weeds of the field are to be cast into the furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41-42); the place we call hell and elsewhere in scripture is known as outer darkness (Matt. 22:13; 25:30).
The harvest of God is made up of fruit that is holy and righteous; the fruit of the true, sincere, and faithful believers. Those who will be of the harvest of God are those that the Word of God took root in and grew. The Lord will recognize the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness, and self-control; this is the fruit of the harvest of God. As I asked last week, I ask today: are you bearing the holy and righteous fruit of God?
If you desire to be part of the harvest of God, you must first wake up out of your spiritual sleep to the Light of the world! After you have awakened, you must then take in the Word of God so that you can bear the holy and righteous fruit. In doing this, all of us as true and faithful believers will be separated from the sinners in the field by our fruit.
Through our faithfulness, and the Lord’s tender loving care, we will flourish in this world. While we may be growing among tares today, we don’t have to worry because our fruit finds favor in the eyes of God. Because our fruit finds favor in God’s eyes, we will be gathered with all of the good grain in His barn (heaven) as part of the harvest of God.