THE PARABLE OF THE TARES
Matt. 13:24-30 ; 36-43
Jesus told the story of a farmer who after due preparation sowed his field with wheat. Before the seed sprouted, an enemy came at night and sowed the field over with tares. Tares is s a noxious, weedy rye-grass called darnel and was very common in the East. The Jews considered it a degenerate kind of wheat. The roots of this weed intertwined with the roots of the wheat, and if you pulled it up you would root up the wheat also. So, it was impossible to weed the field and could not be separated until the harvest when it could be clearly identified. When the situation was discovered the servants wanted to pull up the tares, but the owner knowing the pernicious nature of tares and unwilling to endanger the harvest forbad them to do anything. He said, “Let them both grow until the harvest then we will separate the tares and burn them and put the wheat into the barn.
At the request of the apostles, Jesus gave an explanation of this parable. The farmer who sowed the seed represents Jesus, and the seed is the gospel of Christ. The wheat represents true Christians and the tares represent the children of Satan. The field is the world where the seed of the gospel produced the church in all parts of the world. The enemy who introduced evil into the church is Satan.. The harvest is the end of the world when the angels shall gather out of the church all evil, and then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the everlasting kingdom of God in heaven.
Before I comment on this parable I would like to point out that this is a controversial parable. Some believe this parable teaches that there will always be good and bad people in the church and evil cannot be completely rooted out the church. Others affirm this to be a picture of two entirely different classes in the world, Christians and non-christians, church members and non-church members. One consolation is that both explanations are true, in themselves, and taught clearly in other scriptures. The Bible clearly teaches that there will good and evil in the world to the end, and the Bible also clearly teaches there will be good and evil in the church till the end. While Bible believers differ on the application of the parable, both positions are scriptural truths.
It seems to me that the most important lesson taught by this parable is there will be both good and bad people in the church. Jesus revealed that in His Messianic kingdom there would be a mixture of tares
and wheat. The sowing of the seed refers to the preaching and teaching of the gospel, and when the gospel was preached in the world it drew forth both good and bad people. This has always been true. Not everyone who has claimed to be a Christian has been true to Christ. It is altogether possible that some people whose names have been added to the membership of the church were never truly converted. With so many divisions and false teachers in the religion of Christ and so much disregard for true doctrine, it is understandable how there cold be tares in the Christian religion.
A study of the first century church clearly reveals there were both wheat and tares in the church. Satan is an enemy of Christ and His kingdom, and Satan is one who sows these tares through false teachers.. Even among the chosen apostles of Christ there was a traitor. Judas was a disciple of Jesus and followed Him till he was identified at the last Supper and the betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane,. But he was not a true follower. The other apostles thought he was a true apostle, but he was actually a thief. Judas was an apostle but not a true apostle.
In I John 2:19 the apostle said of some of the members of the church, “They went out from us, because they were not of us.” Whoever these people were, they were once with true Christians, but they went out from them. One does not go out from a place where he has never been. They were Christians but not true Christians. They were drawn away by false teachers and false doctrines, forsook the church and shipwrecked their faith. This demonstrates that some people are Christians only in name. Whether these people were never sincerely penitent nor truly converted or whether they were truly converted and then deceived by false teachers I know not, but it clearly teaches that there are bad people in the church..
In Acts 20:29 Paul said t the elders of the church in Ephesus, “I know this that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, from among yourselves men will spring up, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves.” This shows that some would come into the church hypocritically, who wee not truly commited to Christ. Many of these were Jewish teachers trying to impose the law of Moses on Christians. Paul also said that others from within the church would arise speaking false doctrine in order to lead disciples away from Christ. In both instances we find bad people in the church. Where did these teachers come from? The gospel did not
produce them. Satan put these teachers in the church; and they became tares.. Satan sowed these tares right into the kingdom of Christ. In 2 Cor. 11:13,14 Paul said, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is not a great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.” Satan has placed his ministers and his apostles in the church. Tares include false teachers, hypocrites and immoral people. While some maintain the truth, others err and are greatly deceived. It is my understanding that this parable explains how evil was introduced into the church and continues to exist in the church in all parts of the world.
The Bible also clearly teaches that some, truly converted and for a while faithful, would later go back into the world and lose their souls. Jesus taught this in the parable of the sower. There was an immoral brother in the church at Corinth whose conduct was more scandalous than that of the heathen. (I Cor. 5). The church had hardly begun in Jerusalem when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the apostles about a benevolent contribution to the poor and were stricken dead. There will be both good people and bad people in the church until the end of time. This is the work of Satan and his aim is to destroy the church.
Finally, let us not conclude from these facts that we should not exercise church discipline today, for the Bible teaches this should be done. On the other hand earthly power and force cannot be used to exterminate religious error. The church of Rome put thousands to death for disagreeing with its doctrines, including burning at the stake. Protestant churches have shamefully persecuted those who disagreed with their doctrines. Within Christendom today, there are hundreds of different churches with different doctrines and all profess to be followers of Christ. All claim to be in the church Jesus built. It can be very difficult to know what is wheat and what is tares. Christians are not allowed to use peersecution or earthly force to root out error in the Christian religion. The final separation of the wheat and tares will be made by the angels at the end of the world. The main point in this parable is that there will always be good and evil in the church and that evil cannot be completely rooted out of the church.
This parable does not forbid church discipline. If a member of the church persists in sin and refuses to repent, we have no alternative but to withdraw fellowship in the hope of bringing him to repentance and
restoration. We can only imagine what one church in Nashville had to go through some time ago. How does a congregation cope when one of its leaders falls? The Minister was aarrested for stealing. On the Sunday after the Minister's arrest, the Elders made this statement, “We want to assure you that are committed to supporting our Minister in every way that we can. Our love for him and his family is unconditional. In so many ways, these are uncharted waters for us. There is so much we do not know.” The Minister was given a leave of absence with pay, but he was relieved of his preaching duties. Arrangements were made forr him to receive personal and financial counseling. We hope the very best for that preacher and the congregation.
If preachers can go bad, we can all go bad. James said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” In the famous prayer Jesus taught people to use, one of the petitions was, “Deliver us from evil or deliver us from the evil one.” Offer that petition often. .From this parable we learn that we should be wheat, not tares. Let us be sincere and devoted Christians. at all times, in public and in private. Let us be what we profess to be, a Christian in sincerity and truth Let us be what we appear to be to others, a new creature in Christ Jesus. Let us be what we profess to be, children .of God by faith in Christ Jesus.