Friday, July 21, 2017

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 No Wheat without Weeds

KEY TEXT: Matthew 13:24-30 He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds (KJV: tares) among the wheat and went away.  So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.  And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?'  He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?'  But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" 

KEY THOT: Jesus told many parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13 (parables of the sower, weeds, mustard seed, leaven, hidden treasure, pearl of great price, and the net). Parables need to be interpreted to understand the truths about the kingdom of God hidden within the symbols. While Jesus told these parables publicly to the crowds, he only interpreted the meanings privately to the disciples. 

In the parable of the weeds, a man sowed seeds of wheat but his enemy came at night to sow seeds of weeds among them. So the wheat and weeds grew up together into plants. When the servants saw the weeds among the wheat, they wanted to go out to pull out the weeds. The master told them to leave the weeds alone until harvest, lest "in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them" (v.29). During harvest time, he would tell the reapers to gather up the weeds first to burn them before gathering the wheat into his barn. For it is only at the harvest that it is easy to tell the wheat from the weed because only the wheat have grains that are then cut and gathered.

The interpretation of this parable was given in verses 36-43:

The field is the world; the good seed is the children of the kingdom; the weeds are sons of the devil; the enemy is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age (second coming of Christ); and the reapers are angel. This is how Jesus concluded: "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace" (vv.41-42).

The main lesson of the parable of the weeds is that wherever good seeds of the kingdom are sowed, we will find the devil's agents among them to cause distraction, disruption and destruction. As the wheat look almost identical to weeds before they are ripe (see picture insert), it is almost impossible to tell them apart until harvest time when the wheat grains appear. Furthermore, the weed and wheat plants are so intermingled at the roots that in pulling out the weeds, the wheat may also get uprooted.

It may come as a shock to many that within churches, the devil has his own agents masquerading as Christians in the membership as well as in the leadership. They look like believers and talk like believers but they are not true believers but religious fakes that have infiltrated and are thoroughly assimilated into the church life. They show their true evil nature only when the Spirit of God moves powerfully in revival. As leaders, these weeds will oppose the revival or as members they would exhibit weird demonic manifestations that often frighten the faint-hearted.

In church history, such weeds have appeared as persecutors of the faithful or as as religious and demonic fakes, counterfeiting the true manifestations of the Spirit. That is why the gift of discerning of spirit is very important in revivals. We cannot simply accept every supernatural manifestation as from God but must have discernment to separate the weed from the wheat. Personally, I have seen such deception happening in my own experience, much to my grief as believers got deceived and fell away from true faith.

But it would be a mistake to throw away the baby with the bathwater.

We cannot and should not stop sowing good seeds for fear of getting bad seeds. In fact, this fear of getting weeds has prevented some churches from even sowing good seeds of revival. But the reality is this: no church can have wheat without weeds. If a church is afraid of weeds, it won't get wheat as well. And such churches will not grow. And churches that are not growing are dying, for it is the characteristic of living organisms to grow.

Let's be partners with our Lord Jesus in promoting revival, not with the devil in undermining and opposing it.

Abba-Father, thank You for this parable of the weed, to warn us against the enemy's work and also to encourage us to persevere in seeking good seeds of the harvest, despite demonic opposition and sabotage. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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