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 among the wheat and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25 (ESV)
My dad did not outwardly appear to be a very spiritual man. However, on one occasion he conveyed to me a very powerful spiritual reality. As the day drew near for me to be baptized and officially join the church, he stopped me one day in our dining room and asked if I understood what I was doing. I assured him that I did. At this he responded, “There are a lot of people who have their name on the church role who will die and go to hell.”
Jesus completed the parable concerning the wheat by saying, “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.’” (Matthew 13:26-30 ESV)
In Jesus’ day it wasn’t uncommon for a person who was angered by another to go by night and sow bad seed or tares in the other’s crop. Tares or darnel grass grow in Palestine and looks much like wheat. Tares, however, produce no grain or a grain that is harmful if eaten. To separate the tares from the genuine wheat is difficult not only because they look so similar but also because the roots of the tares intertwine with the roots of the wheat. If the tares are pulled out before harvest time the crop would be injured. As such, the tares and wheat are allowed to grow together until harvest at which time they can be separated.
In the midst of the church today there are people who look like good wheat but are in reality tares placed there by Satan. Some of these people may have had some kind of spiritual enlightenment and go through all the motions of being a Christian but have not experienced an inward change. Jesus addressed this when he said that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. The people to whom Jesus referred had performed many miracles in his name, but he told them he never knew them and called them workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus even rebuked church leaders for their hypocrisy. He told them, “So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:23-28).
Luke records another occasion when Jesus addressed a group of people who seemed to know him, but he did not recognize them (Luke 13:24-28). Some of these people are easy to discern but many are not. Should man try to weed these people from the church no doubt some true believers would be targeted and thus harmed. God alone knows the heart of man and is able to accurately judge between the two; which he will do at the end of the age (Matthew 25:31-32).
At his disciple’s request, Jesus explained the parable of the wheat and weeds to them. “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 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. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:36-43 ESV)
That’s why we praise him!