This chapter is based on
the following verses:
Matt. 13:24-30, 37-43
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."
"The field," Christ
said, "is the world." But we must understand this as signifying the church of
Christ in the world. The parable is a description of that which pertains to the kingdom of
God, His work of salvation of men; and this work is accomplished through the church. True,
the Holy Spirit has gone out into all the world; everywhere it is moving upon the hearts
of men; but it is in the church that we are to grow and ripen for the garner of God.
"He that sowed the good
seed is the Son of man. . . . The good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares
are the children of the wicked one." The good seed represents those who are born of
the word of
God, the truth. The tares represent a class who are the fruit or embodiment of
error, of false principles. "The enemy that sowed them is the devil." Neither
God nor His angels ever sowed a seed that would produce a tare. The tares are always sown
by Satan, the enemy of God and man.
In the East, men sometimes
took revenge upon an enemy by strewing his newly sown fields with the seeds of some
noxious weed that, while growing, closely resembled wheat. Springing up with the wheat, it
injured the crop and brought trouble and loss to the owner of the field. So it is from
enmity to Christ that Satan scatters his evil seed among the good grain of the kingdom.
The fruit of his sowing he attributes to the Son of God. By bringing into the church those
who bear Christ's name while they deny His character, the wicked one causes that God shall
be dishonored, the work of salvation misrepresented, and souls imperiled.
Christ's servants are grieved
as they see true and false believers mingled in the church. They long to do something to
cleanse the church. Like the servants of the householder, they are ready to uproot the
tares. But Christ says to them, "Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up
also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest."
Christ has plainly taught
that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not
committed to us the work of judging character and motive. He knows our nature too well to
entrust this work to us. Should we try to uproot from the church those whom we suppose to
be spurious Christians, we should be sure to make mistakes. Often we regard as hopeless
subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. Were we
to deal with these souls
according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope. Many who
think themselves Christians will at last be found wanting. Many will be in heaven who
their neighbors supposed would never enter there. Man judges from appearance, but God
judges the heart. The tares and the wheat are to grow together until the harvest; and the
harvest is the end of probationary time.
There is in the Saviour's
words another lesson, a lesson of wonderful forbearance and tender love. As the tares have
their roots closely intertwined with those of the good grain, so false brethren in the
church may be closely linked with true disciples. The real character of these pretended
believers is not fully manifested. Were they to be separated from the church, others might
be caused to stumble, who but for this would have remained steadfast.
The teaching of this parable
is illustrated in God's own dealing with men and angels. Satan is a deceiver. When he
sinned in heaven, even the loyal angels did not fully discern his character. This was why
God did not at once destroy Satan. Had He done so, the holy angels would not have
perceived the justice and love of God. A doubt of God's goodness would have been as evil
seed that would yield the bitter fruit of sin and woe. Therefore the author of evil was
spared, fully to develop his character. Through long ages God has borne the anguish of
beholding the work of evil, He has given the infinite Gift of Calvary, rather than leave
any to be deceived by the misrepresentations of the wicked one; for the tares could not be
plucked up without danger of uprooting the precious grain. And shall we not be as
forbearing toward our fellow men as the Lord of heaven and earth is toward Satan?
The world has no right to
doubt the truth of Christianity
because there are unworthy members in the church, nor
should Christians become disheartened because of these false brethren. How was it with the
early church? Ananias and Sapphira joined themselves to the disciples. Simon Magus was
baptized. Demas, who forsook Paul, had been counted a believer. Judas Iscariot was
numbered with the apostles. The Redeemer does not want to lose one soul; His experience
with Judas is recorded to show His long patience with perverse human nature; and He bids
us bear with it as He has borne. He has said that false brethren will be found in the
church till the close of time.
warning, men have sought to uproot the tares. To punish those who were supposed to be
evildoers, the church has had recourse to the civil power. Those who differed from the
established doctrines have been imprisoned, put to torture and to death, at the
instigation of men who claimed to be acting under the sanction of Christ. But it is the
spirit of Satan, not the Spirit of Christ, that inspires such acts. This is Satan's own
method of bringing the world under his dominion. God has been misrepresented through the
church by this way of dealing with those supposed to be heretics.
Not judgment and condemnation
of others, but humility and distrust of self, is the teaching of Christ's parable. Not all
that is sown in the field is good grain. The fact that men are in the church does not
prove them Christians.
The tares closely resembled
the wheat while the blades were green; but when the field was white for the harvest, the
worthless weeds bore no likeness to the wheat that bowed under the weight of its full,
ripe heads. Sinners who make a pretension of piety mingle for a time with the true
followers of Christ, and the semblance of Christianity is calculated to deceive many; but
in the harvest of the world there will be no likeness between good and evil. Then those
who have joined the church, but who have not joined Christ, will be manifest.
The tares are permitted to
grow among the wheat, to have all the advantage of sun and shower; but in the time of
harvest ye shall "return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between
him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not." Mal. 3:18. Christ Himself will
decide who are worthy to dwell with the family of heaven. He will judge every man
according to his words and his works. Profession is as nothing in the scale. It is
character that decides destiny.
The Saviour does not point
forward to a time when all the tares become wheat. The wheat and tares grow together until
the harvest, the end of the world. Then the tares are bound in bundles to be burned, and
the wheat is gathered into the garner of God. "Then shall the righteous shine forth
as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Then "the Son of man shall send
forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and
them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing
and gnashing of teeth."