Matthew13:24-30 36-43: THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS

Introduction. Read Matthew13:24-30, 36-43.

When Jesus explained the Parable of the Weeds he said, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world." See vs37and38. This statement puzzles me. As soon as a farmer sows seeds in the world he creates a field. We talk about a farmer sowing seed in his field not crops in the world.

The parable is about the crop growing in Jesus' field, namely, the church in its broadest sense. Satan, the enemy, is intent on spoiling the church. Jesus illustrates this by likening Satan to a man who introduces weeds into a crop of wheat. The weed in question is lolium temulantum or darnel ryegrass. It is one of the very few grasses with poisonous seeds.

We will, perhaps, understand the parable best by comparing the two plants that end up in the farmer's field.

(1) The sown plants.

The two kinds of seed, the wheat and the darnel, represent Christians and non-Christians both of which end up in the field which I take to be the church. The two seeds differ in their:

(a) Nature. Once the two sowings take place subsequent developments depend upon the seeds nature - the plants DNA - more than anything else. It is inevitable the wheat seeds produce a wheat plant and the darnel sees a poisonous weed.

This is a reminder that Christians are different from non-Christians in their nature. They have been born again. They leave one family for another. As John put it: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. Jn1v12.

(b) Ownership. The good seed, the wheat, is owned and sown by the farmer. The bad seed, the darnel, is owned and sown by the farmer's enemy.

Christians belong to Jesus. We sometimes sing:

          Once I was lost in sin's degradation,
          Jesus came down to bring me salvation,
          Lifted me up from sorrow and shame,
          Now I belong to Him;

          Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me,
          Not for the years of time alone, But for eternity.

The poisonous seed belongs to the farmer's enemy. So Satan is able to deploy dangerous non-Christians within the church to hinder the spiritual development of true believers. All sorts of non-believers have played havoc with the fellowship of the saints from earliest times. The church at Corinth in the time of Paul was being spoiled by false apostles. See Paul's opposition to the "super apostles.

(c) Potential. A grain of wheat, one seed, has the potential to produce an ear of wheat containing as many as 50 grains. So an individual Christian has the potential to make many others. Through the years the yield of the church has been spectacular.

The darnel seed just produces a plant that makes it harder for the wheat to grow. So non-Christians can often reduce the effectiveness of a church. They are not much interested in prayer or evangelism. They may be supporters of all sorts of other activities - socials, sports and sing-songs. If as much energy was expended on prayer as social functions then the genuine Christians in the church would ripen faster.

(2) The growing plants.

The two very different species of plant are:

(a) Together. Christians and many non-Christians will be found together in the church just as the wheat and darnel grow together in the farmer's field.

It is understandable that Christians are keen to associate with one another. They are united by their love for Jesus, their dependence upon Jesus and their desire to serve him. If football supporters band together so surely should Christ's supporters.

However, we must be aware that non-Christians can be found in Christ's church for very different reasons to those above. Here are just a few such reasons: Family connections, the company, the high quality music, to make useful contacts, for old times sake, to acquire a veneer of respectability, as an insurance against going to hell - and so on.

(b) Alike. It is very difficult to tell growing wheat and darnel apart in the early stages of growth. It is often difficult to distinguish between a Christian and church going non-Christian. Many non-Christians have attractive personalities. They may be warm-hearted, generous, amiable and kind. Superficially they are all a Christian should be.

(c) Left. Jesus points out that it is foolish for a farm hand to attempt to pull up the darnel growing with the wheat. It is hard to tell the two plants apart and in the process of uprooting the darnel some of the wheat would undoubtedly be damaged.

If the church authorities start passing judgment on some who attend church with a view to making them feel unwelcome, a great deal of harm will result. Mistakes are very likely and some genuine believers are sure to be hurt and even damagesd.

I can recall being dropped as a preacher by several churches because judged unsound. This undoubtedly distressed some who profited from my ministry.

I belong to an association of churches that only permit baptised believers to stop to communion. This is deemed a way of ensuring that only true Christians participate in the Lord's Supper. It is a practice that has caused a lot of unhappiness through the years.

(3) The fruiting plants.

Both wheat and darnel produce fruit - but there is a big difference in:

(a) Appearance. The ripe wheat is golden whereas the ripe darnel is almost black. The fruit of the 2 plants is also of a different shape.

I think the genuineness of the Christian becomes more apparent as the Christian and non-Christian age. The genuine Christian can be identified by the following characteristics: a growing enjoyment of corporate worship, a stronger commitment to prayer, a closer bond with other believers and a desire to be with Christ - that is far better.

(b) Quality. Wheat is a sweet and wholesome grain that is the main ingredient of bread - the staff of life. Darnel produces small, dark and poisonous seeds.

There is ultimately a tremendous difference between the fruit of the Spirit and the acts of the sinful nature. Both are described in Galatians 5. The fruits of the Spirit are: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The acts of the sinful nature are: Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkeness, orgies and the like.

(c) Destiny. At harvest the darnel is pulled up first and then burned as so much rubbish. The dried grass will flare up and be gone in a minute. This is not a picture of everlasting anguish and torment. It is a picture of what will actually happen. God will take all those who reject his Son and destroy them like so many bundles of dried, poisonous weeds. Fruitless, empty, slightly poisonous lives will be annihilated in God's 'fiery furnace.'

The precious wheat will be gathered safely into the barn. This is a rather downbeat picture of the glorious future of the righteous. Barn storage is not very exciting! So, Jesus says of the righteous soul: Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. v43.