This next parable we will discuss is part of seven other parables (including the parable of the sower) that have a common theme running through them. These seven parables are all about the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. Jesus uses these parables to teach and paint a picture of what the kingdom of God is like. In the parable we will discuss today, the parable of the weeds, Jesus tells the parable then gives an interpretation of it. We will look into this explanation to see why and how it is like the kingdom.
This parable takes place in Matthew 13
“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”” Matthew 13:24-30
This can seem like a confusing passage and a bunch of questions come to mind when we read this. Thankfully, the disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable, so we do not have to wonder what it means. Here is Jesus explanation:
““The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”” Matthew 13:37-43
Jesus makes a lot of interesting points in this parable and in the explanation. In the parable, the servants ask if they can go and pull up the weeds which could hurt the growth of the wheat. Interestingly, the owner tells them no because when they pull up the weeds, they will also pull up the wheat as well. Jesus is sort of making a cultural statement here. Remember this whole parable is about what the kingdom of God is like. So the kingdom is like a field which has both good and evil, wheat and weeds. Jesus tells us that the field represents the world which is part of the kingdom of God. The angels will “weed out” of the kingdom all evil and sin so that only goodness will be there and the righteous will shine.
The cultural statement is that the kingdom of God would not be Israel restored to its former state. There will be all sorts of people in the kingdom and some just might surprise us. Perhaps they may look like weeds but in reality, they are wheat. We may judge them and assume there is no way they could be part of the kingdom but God had other plans.
The servants did not have the ability to know the difference between the wheat and weeds and that is why the owner told them to leave them be. He wanted to wait until the harvesters came who would know the difference. Jesus tells us that these harvesters are angels who will get rid of all the evil in the world and the kingdom will be fully restored.
There is a vicious weed called the Bearded Darnel. While growing, this weed can look identical to wheat and you cannot tell the difference. As the plant reaches maturity, there are differences between the two most apparent in their fruit. What Jesus is saying here is that we may not be able to tell the difference between those who produce good or bad fruit until they do so. We may think they have only evil in their hearts until they fully mature and we realize they are actually good for the kingdom of God.
We can learn some valuable lessons from this parable. One is that we are not the ones to judge who is part of God’s kingdom and who is not because we may truly not know the difference. A second lesson we can learn is that even though the devil sows evil among the good, good will always prevail. Jesus wins in the end and those who are with him will stand victorious alongside him.