Study 3 THE WEEDS AND THE WHEAT
TEN OF OUR LORD’S PARABLES
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43
In studying the Kingdom parables of Matthew 13 we must understand exactly what ”the kingdom of heaven” means. It does not refer to heaven itself (John 14:1-3); nor does it refer to the Church. The Church is mentioned only once in this Gospel (Matthew 16:13-20), and while it is true that the Church is within the Kingdom, the Church is not the Kingdom. The expression “the kingdom of heaven” is used in at least two ways: (1) John the Baptist used it (Matthew 3:2); it refers to the Messianic earthly rule of the Lord Jesus, the Son of David. The King was about to come and set up His earthly kingdom, but He (the King) and the kingdom were both rejected (Luke 19:14; John 1:11). (2) As used in Matthew 13, the expression refers to Christendom, i.e. professing Christianity during our Lord’s bodily absence from the earth.
This parable tells us something about the visible professing Church that is in the world today. The teaching here does not concern the Church which is His Body (Ephesians 1:22-23), that living organism of born-again (1 Peter 1:23), redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-19), men and women, but of that larger, visible organisation which we call Christendom, and which consists of all who profess the name of Christ who are grouped together in many denominations.
With all this in mind, let us begin by noticing the details of the parable in verses 24-30, and the Lord’s explanation of it in verses 37-43.
- (1) The SOWER is the SON OF MAN (verses 24, 37). He is the Sower, or Farmer, mentioned in our first study, but in that parable we (Christian preachers, teachers, evangelists) are also sowers!
- (2) The FIELD is the WORLD (verses 24, 38). The sphere in which the Son of Man is sowing today is the whole world. Christendom is worldwide (John 3:16).
- (3) The SEEDS are the SONS OF THE KINGDOM (verses 24, 38). In the parable of the Sower the seed was the Word; here the seed consists of the redeemed, those who have been born again, planted by Christ in the world; they contain true life, for they are ’wheat’ - living, fruitful seed.
- (4) The WEEDS are the SONS OF THE EVIL ONE (verses 25, 38). There are two sowers - one sowing wheat, the other sowing weeds, and the wheat and weeds are mixed together - Christ’s picture of the professing Church today - a Church consisting of the saved and unsaved.
- (5) The ENEMY is the DEVIL (verses 25, 26, 27, 39) – a real personality who is very active today in sowing weeds where the Lord has sown His wheat.
- (6) The HARVEST is THE END OF THE AGE. How solemn these words are!
- (7) The HARVESTERS are the ANGELS (verses 30, 41, 42). These words are more solemn, and are supported by the testimony of many other Scriptures.
What are the main lessons we can learn from this parable?
1. In the professing Church there will always be the wheat and the weeds.
Failure to recognise this has often led God’s people to become discouraged; we can lose heart. Also those who are not Christians, because they have not recognised that the wheat and weeds grow together, have stumbled when they have seen inconsistency in the lives of those who profess to be Christians. In every church there are the children of God (John 1:12-14) and the children of the Enemy (John 8:38-45).
2. The Devil’s objective is to mix evil with good, to hinder the growth of the Kingdom.
It all began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). Since then Satan and Christ have been in deadly conflict: the Devil tried to interrupt the line through which Christ would be born; when He was born, Satan tried to murder Him (Matthew 2:16); in the wilderness he tried to overcome Him (Matthew 4:1-11); through His disciples he tried to deflect Him from the divine purpose (Matthew 16:21-23); finally he saw Him crucified - but, praise God, the Saviour rose again, and ever since it has been Satan’s aim to overthrow His Church. Satan has been sowing weeds, and this explains the divisions, false teaching and heresies that exist in our churches.
3. The Weeds look like Wheat, so we must never try to separate them, in case we uproot or spoil the Wheat.
The darnel is a weed which grows up with the wheat, but the difference cannot be seen until the blossom comes. How impossible it would be to separate the wheat from the darnel!
4. The Weeds actually spoil the Wheat.
When the blossom appears on the darnel it contains a poison which is blown over the wheat and threatens to destroy the fruit. This tells us that mere professors in the Church, those with no spiritual life, adversely influence the Christians. How important it is that we do not become ‘poisoned’! Look up Romans 16:17.
5. While the Sons of the Kingdom are asleep the Devil’s work prospers.
How sleepy God’s people have been through these 2000 years! While Christians have slept, the forces of evil have gained ground. The sleep of the Church has been the Devil’s opportunity. Look up Matthew 26:40; Luke 22:45-46; Romans 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:6. Remember, the Devil never sleeps!
6. The solemn fact of judgment and of future retribution is certain.
Read Matthew 13:30, 42; compare Revelation 14:18-20 and 20:11-15.
7. The Lord Jesus will be victorious and will gather all His own together to be with Him for ever.
The time of fearful separation is surely coming - fearful for those who are mere professing Christians, but wonderful beyond words for those who are the Lord’s. Read Matthew 13:30, 43; Ephesians 5:25-27!