Beheading of John the Baptist

(Matthew 14:1-12)

At the beginning of this chapter we see the circumstances that led to the beheading of John the Baptist. There are a few interesting point and lessons to be learned from this event, both historically and spiritually. The beheading of John the Baptist unfolded in the following manner.

First we see that John the Baptist had been imprisoned by Herod because John the Baptist had told Herod that it was unlawful for him to take his brother Phillip’s wife, Herodias, as his own. Basically John the Baptist told Herod he was committing adultery. Herod was angry and wanted to put John the Baptist to death, but he feared the people who held John the Baptist to be a prophet.

A feast was held for Herod on his birthday, and as an aside this is the only time in the New Testament that we see a birthday being celebrated. Evidently the idea of hold a birthday celebration goes back quite a long time. At this birthday feast the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and all of his guests and this pleased Herod greatly. Now perhaps Herod had had too much to drink or was emotionally overcome by the event, but he then did what can only be described as a foolish thing.

Herod was so pleased or perhaps entranced by this dance that he offered the girl anything she wanted, even to the value of half of his kingdom. Indeed he swore an oath to the girl to give her whatever she wanted, and there were many witnesses to his oath. This was a rash statement made under the influence of emotion. He was certainly not thinking straight when making this statement.

Now Herodias, the mother of the girl, also bore a grudge against John the Baptist, because he too would have accused her of adultery. Seeing the opportunity she prompted her daughter to ask for the beheading of John the Baptist and to be given his head on a platter. Herod was sorrowful and realised the rashness of his oath and his statements. But he could not or would not back down and lose face in front of the guests and so ordered it to be done.

The lesson for us here in Herod’s example is that we must watch what we say. We should never make rash statements nor make any important decisions in the heat of emotion or the passion of the moment. We have been instructed to let our yes be yes and our no be no, (James 5:12) but we must first think through the consequences of our words. The tongue is a fire and no human being can control it as James also wrote. (James 3) We are fortunate that the Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation in our lives to bring us into the likeness of God. No human being has the power to control the tongue. But through the working of the Holy Spirit over time, this may be achieved.

Finally we must take the advice of James once again when he said, “Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20) Listen carefully to what is being said and then think it over before saying anything or making a decision. If the statement makes you angry or touches any emotion at all, do not make a decision while under the influence of emotion. You must stop and weigh things in the light and strength of reason, not emotion, and then you have a chance of making the right choice or saying the right words. Above all else, if it is an important decision, put it in the hands of the Lord with prayer to guide you. And wait for him to do so.

A Prophet is Without Honour

(Matthew 13:53-58)

There are three valuable lessons in this last section of Matthew 13, culminating with the teaching that a prophet is without honour in his own country and house. In this part we see him finish his parable teachings and returning to his own home country.

Firstly though we see an insight into Jesus earlier life and his family life. Contrary to how he is often portrayed, Jesus was part of a wider family. We know that his mother was Mary and his earthly, though not biological father was Joseph. However Jesus is often portrayed as an only child. This was not the case for here we see there was an extended family. He had four brothers who were names here as James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and he also had a number of sisters who were not named. The sisters were described as “all his sisters” who could mean three or more, and definitely at least two, although you would expect if there were only two they would say “both his sisters.” (Vs. 55) So Jesus understood the issues and problems as well as the benefits of family life.

Secondly we see that the people of his hometown all recognised him. They knew who he was for he had grown up among them. This was Jesus, the carpenter’s son who played and worked in their streets and villages as a child and young man. They were puzzled because they had heard about him but when he came and taught with such wisdom in their synagogue, they were astonished. However they did not recognise him as the Son of God. Thus they took offence for they were hardened of heart because of their familiarity with the old Jesus, not this teacher of God’s Kingdom bring the good news of the gospel. They could not accept that this was the same person and so they did not believe in him.

We see also that because of their unbelief and lack of faith, Jesus did no mighty works there. Why? Because the works that he did were based on faith. The people had to believe that God could do the works that Jesus did before they would come to him for his help. For example, if a person did not believe Jesus could free them from a sickness, disease or infirmity, they would not come for healing. Over and over we see this when Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well” (Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34, Mark 10:52, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:42) Without faith the people would not come. Was the power Jesus had lessened because the people did not believe? Absolutely not. But if they did not come and ask for healing through a lack of faith, then they would not get healed. Jesus did not force his will or his healing power on anyone. They had to make the first move, and the first move is faith. The people did not believe for they considered him to still be the carpenter’s son rather than the Son of God.

Finally we find Jesus make the statement that a prophet is without honour in his own country, land and house. This is the same as saying that familiarity breeds contempt. In his own house and country a prophet was nobody special. Everyone knew them for they had grown up together so they knew the person’s behaviour, strengths and weaknesses. A prophet in another place is among strangers who do not know these things and so they listen for all they have to judge the character of the person is what they see and hear. But in his own home a prophet is just a brother or son and part of the wider family unit.

Even Jesus had this experience and it was included here to show us an insight into the nature of man. Often when we try to bring the good news to our own family and friends we too are treated with a lack of faith. These people know our past and us. If we had a colourful past they will not believe this is the same person speaking to them as the one they knew. And so they too may take offence as they did with Jesus. Sometimes the people closest to us who we may want to bring the message of the gospel to are the hardest to convince. With them we need to adopt a silent approach so that they may be won over by observing our changed behaviour. The apostle Peter wrote of this very thing saying, “Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behaviour of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behaviour.” (1 Peter 3:1-2)

So we can take heart from these lessons and understand that if we are rejected by those we know best, it may be that it is not the right time for them. They may need to be convinced not by words but by seeing the changes in our life.

Treasures New and Old

(Matthew 13:51-52)

This section concludes the parable teachings that Jesus gave to his disciples at this time. He also provides a valuable lesson here on the methods by which they were to pass on this information. He describes here how they are trained and were to train others. To understand some of this it was necessary to refer to the original Greek so that the full meaning of the words could be extracted.

First Jesus asks the disciples if they have understood all that he has tole them, to which they said, “Yes.” He then wraps up the section with a comment about the training of scribes for the kingdom of heaven and how they were to teach.

First we should consider the word scribes. Although Jesus often upbraided the scribes of his time, he is now not talking about those men and what they taught. Here he is talking about a scribe in a general sense. In Jesus’ time the scribes were the learned men. They could read and write and had knowledge. There were no printing presses at the time and so the scribes were employed to hand copy documents and books for distribution. It was necessary that they were accurate so that the meaning of the texts were not distorted or lost, and for the most part they were good at this function.

We see then that Jesus is talking about a specific type of scribe, one who is trained for the kingdom of heaven. So these people he is referring to are the teachers and preachers of the gospel. They are the learned people of the good news of the kingdom of God and who are entrusted with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the means by which people can enter the kingdom of God.

He likens these people to a householder who brings out treasure. However the original Greek word for “householder” is better translated as the “master of the house.” This master is the head of the house who in that house is the person in charge or a person of authority. In relation to the house of God, Jesus is the master of the house and the one in charge. And the scribes of the kingdom of heaven are like the master of the house, who is Jesus. The work of the New Covenant in our life is to transform us into the image of Christ so that we truly can be like the master of the house. So the teachers and the preachers of the New Covenant are to be like Jesus who is the master of the house.

Now the master of the house brings out treasures new and old. If we think about an event about to take place in a great house, say like a wedding, the house is decorated. And the decorations will often be valuable and some will be old, like family heirlooms, and some will be new that were bought for the occasion. These things are taken from the storage in the house, which may have been a locked treasury in days gone by. It is a place where items of great value are kept for just such occasions. The treasures new and old that we have are likewise of great value, for the teachings of the kingdom of God are teachings of life.

When a teacher then is bringing forth the message of the New Covenant, he may and should bring forth this treasure in both old and new things. A teacher needs to use all of the information, knowledge and wisdom they have gained through trial, error, experience and study to bring forth the message. It may be things they have learned many years ago or may be knowledge acquired just recently. It may be examples from the Old Testament or doctrine from the New Testament. Whatever it is, the teacher needs to bring forth what is appropriate for the lesson and time at hand. They cannot just continue to drone about the one thing constantly but as the people learn and grow, the message needs to grow too.

This is a valuable insight into the way that Jesus showed the disciples to teach the new covenant. It is interesting that he used the analogy of a scribe, for the scribes of his time were anything but flexible in their teaching. And in essence he is saying that to bring forth treasures old and new is to be flexible in how they should teach. Not to compromise the message, but to apply it the best way to the situation. The scribes of that time though were rigid and inflexible. They taught the law in a legalistic and rigid manner. But as Jesus showed, they ignored the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23)

Paul knew this too, for he said, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law–though not being myself under the law–that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law–not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ–that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22) Paul took this message to the people using old and new methods to teach it in a way they could understand the message.

There is wisdom in this teaching for any who teach the gospel not to be dogmatic or rigid. Learn the truth and apply it to your life and the way it is taught. Speak to people using the old and the new treasures of the covenant as Jesus did so that we too can be like the master of the house in our preaching and teaching.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

(Matthew 13:47-50)

This parable of the kingdom is about the end of the time when Jesus comes to judge the world. We saw earlier that he will allow the weeds to grow with the wheat and they will be separated at the end of the days. This parable is saying much the same.

The net will be cast into the sea of peoples and all people will be gathered into it. Like each of the fish caught in the net they will be judged and graded. All people will be judged as well and it will be determined whether they are fit for the kingdom of God or worthless. Those deemed fit will go into his kingdom to live eternally with God & Jesus Christ. However those who fail to meet the test will be sentenced to punishment and will be thrown into the lake of fire with Satan and his demons.

This is a warning. If we want to avoid judgement we are to make the right decisions now. Now is the acceptable time of salvation as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:2. If we ignore his warning and follow the ways of this world, then we choose the path of destruction.

It is my hope and prayer that I will achieve the right to enter God’s kingdom. It is also my hope and prayer that all who read this will heed of Jesus’ warning and seek out the truth for him or herself.

Parable of the Merchant Seeking Pearls

(Matthew 13:45-46)

This parable is similar to the previous one where a man finds a great treasure in a field and covers it until he can buy the field. However a few nuances make this parable slightly different.

In that previous parable (verse 44) the man discovers a treasure hidden in the filed. He didn’t know or expect it to be there for he wasn’t looking for treasure. He just stumbled onto it and realising his luck, took full advantage of it. Some Christians come to the Lord that way. They are not necessarily looking for God, but they stumble across him and realise this is what they have been looking for all their life.

However in this second parable of the merchant seeking pearls, we see a different perspective. In this case the merchant is looking for pearls of value. He is searching and seeking diligently to find a valuable pearl. Then again we see he finds one pearl of immense value, so he goes and sells all of his possessions so that he had sufficient money to but that pearl.

There are people who likewise are looking for the truth. They have been through all kinds of systems, religions and philosophies but nothing satisfies. These are the other lesser value pearls. While some may provide a little value, some are rubbish and worthless. Then they find Jesus, Jesus may find them and they discover the fullness of what he offers. In comparison to everything else they have been looking at this is awesome. So they give away all they have and as Paul wrote when he found God, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)

Paul had discovered the pearl of great value in Jesus Christ. He was a perfect example of the man described in this parable. Paul was searching for the truth but until Jesus revealed himself to Paul, his life was going in the wrong direction.

The lesson here for all of us is that when we find such a valuable asset, whether by stumbling on it like treasure in a field or seeking a pearl of great value, make it your own. There is nothing that compares to the worth of knowing and being known by Jesus Christ.

Hidden Treasure Parable

(Matthew 13:44)

What would you do if you found a hidden treasure in a field? Let’s say you found gold nuggets or diamonds. Would you go and tell everyone about it? Would you tell people where you found it? Not likely. The hidden treasure parable is saying the same thing.
The hidden treasure parable tells us that find the truth of the gospel is like finding hidden treasure. It is of inestimable value. Like finding hidden treasure in a field, you should not go and tell everyone about it. Keep it to yourself, at least for the time being.

When a person first finds the truth of the Kingdom of God, they experience great joy. Here at last is something that can fill the gap, the emptiness or the longing in their lives. Many people experience emptiness before coming to the Lord because they find this world offers nothing permanent. There is no hope in this world, but in Jesus there is the promise of peace, joy, salvation and eternity.

So the parable of the hidden treasure says that when a person comes across this great treasure they should cover it up. Don’t race off and tell everyone about it. First make sure you have it for yourself. In the parable of the hidden treasure Jesus said the man went and sold all that he had to buy the field. By this means he could ensure that he had full right to the treasure. That it was his and his alone.

Some people believe that as soon as you become a convert you ought to be out on the streets evangelising the world. They point to the great commission, which is to preach to the entire world. But how is a person to do that if they don’t yet fully understand it for themself? When people ask them questions they can’t answer they do not put their best foot forward in Christ.

Instead, the message in the hidden treasure parable tells us that we should make sure this treasure from God is our own first. We must first understand the teachings of Christ and God’s Kingdom before we go out and tell everyone about it. This is what he means by selling all we have to buy the field. If a person does not do this, then others can mock, cajole or do many things to drag them away from the Lord and they will lose this great treasure. To lose this hidden treasure of God that leads to life would be a great tragedy.

Jesus and the Parables

(Matthew 13:34-43)

Do you understand Jesus and the parables? Do you know why Jesus spoke to the people in parables? In this section we see the reason why he did so and also how we can learn to understand the parables of Jesus.

The section begins with Jesus leaving the people and going into a house with his disciples. In relation to Jesus and the parables we see that he said nothing to the rest of the people without a parable. This was to fulfil the words of one of the old prophets who said, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:35, Psalm 78:1-4) So the point of Jesus and the parables is to bring forth knowledge and insight about the kingdom of God. But he does this in parables so that it can be given to those who seek it out, but will remain veiled to those who do not. For them they are just interesting anecdotes, but to the people of God they give powerful insights.

We see that the disciples also questioned this matter and sought understanding. They came to him privately as they often did and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” (Verse 36) Now I will not go into that explanation as I did that several posts earlier, but what we need to see here is the process of what is happening. Back in verse 11 Jesus said to the disciples, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” They were following him and looking for the truth and Jesus gave it to them willingly and gladly. All they needed to do was ask. And because they asked he explained all of the parables, privately and away from the rest of the people.

The teachings of Jesus are not teachings of this world, but are teachings of the spirit. In order to understand the things of the spirit we need a spiritual interpreter to show us these matters. With Jesus and the parables, the disciples had such a spiritual person, for Jesus is the Son of God. But what about the rest of his people? Jesus promised to send a Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, after he had been put to death. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to be our teacher and guide so that we could understand the mysteries of the New Covenant including the teachings of Jesus and the parables. Jesus said, “…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

The Apostle Paul also wrote, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-14) So again we see that the mysteries of the New Covenant remain veiled to those who are not of Christ, for they do not receive the Holy Spirit so they can learn and understand. But for those who come to him, who ask for the Holy Spirit and who seek to know the truth of his word, he reveals it.

As a result we see in the final words of this section, which relates as much to Jesus and the parables in general as it does to this particular explanation, that, “The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” And he ends the section with an urgent command to his people saying, “He who has ears, let him hear.” That is, listen to what Jesus says and learn the lessons of the kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is Within You – Parable of the Leaven

(Matthew 13:33)

This short parable of the leaven is talking about the kingdom of God within you. It is similar to the previous parable of mustard seed, but there are some marked differences. There are many commentators who have placed a negative connotation on this parable of the leaven because Jesus uses the analogy of leaven as something evil in other places. How ever in this scripture he is comparing this analogy to the kingdom of heaven, which is good, and so it should be seen in the light of something good.

Leaven is important to the making of bread because it causes the bread to rise and makes it soft and palatable. The way leaven works is through an organic process. As it sits in the flour mixture it slowly expands and works its way through the flour until all of the flour becomes activated by the yeast or leaven. Leaven improves the quality of the bread.

In the parable of the leaven we see a more personal view as it shows the kingdom of god is within you and how the gospel works to transform you. First we see a woman “hides” a piece of leaven, which is yeast or yeast affected dough, in three measures of flour. The act of hiding this leaven is interesting and the process of hiding something is seen in other places as well. We see in verse 44 of this chapter that a man found a hidden treasure and covered it up till he could acquire the field and own it fully. Similarly this woman hid the leaven in the flour.

When a person hears the words of the kingdom, if they do not fully understand it, the evil could snatch it away if they are not careful. This was like the birds taking the seed in the parable of the sower. (Matthew 13:4, 19) Thus by hiding it they can meditate on it and learn more so that the word expands and grows in them, transforming them in the same way that leaven transforms flour to make bread. It is a slow growth as the words of the kingdom of God work on your life.

Like the leaven is in the flour, the words and the truth of the kingdom of God is within you. The teachings of Jesus act on your life from within, working from the inside out. The work of transformation is a work that occurs by the Holy Spirit on your own spirit. It starts within and changes your life from within, just as leaven transforms flour from within. This work of transformation is a long slow process, which is also why we speak of walking with Jesus. We do not run with him but we walk. Walking is sustainable for a long time, and suggests a slow but steady progression to reach a destination. Leavening a lump of dough is also a slow process and progression until it is fully ready for baking. And we are being slowly transformed by the working of the truth of the gospel as we grow from within until we are changed into the image of Jesus.

The Parable of Mustard Seed

(Matthew 13:31-32)

Jesus gave a number of parables concerning the kingdom of God and the parable of mustard seed seen in this section is particularly interesting. The parable of mustard seed has been interpreted many different ways. I believe there is both a meaning for the community of God’s people and for the individual in this parable.

Let us take a literal look at the parable first. There are several key elements, the first of which is the mustard seed that Jesus describes as the smallest of seeds. Then there is the bush or tree that it grows into, which is described as the largest of shrubs. This tree is so large that birds come and nest in its branches. The two significant points here are the dramatic transformation from tiny seed to large tree, and the sheltering of birds in this tree.

The kingdom of heaven will start out small, like a tiny mustard seed. When planted in a field it will grow into a large mustard tree. If we consider this from the perspective of the community of God’s people, his church, then that is exactly what has happened. From Jesus’ beginning the Christian movement with a band of a dozen or so disciples, it has grown to millions of believers and changed the course of this world.

Whether the modern church is representative of the kingdom of heaven is questionable, just as the religion taught by the Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees was not representative of the truth of the Old Covenant. There are many things taught in the modern church that have no basis in the scripture. There are also some teachers and preachers that twist scripture to their own purposes. Yet even in the church described as Babylon in Revelation there are people who are God’s people and part of the kingdom of heaven. He says, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:4-5)

When Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven in the parable of mustard seed, he is not necessarily talking about the physical church. Clearly there are people who are part of God’s kingdom that were found in the false church known as Babylon in Revelation. So the Kingdom of heaven cannot be described simply as a church. Instead it is the community of true believers who come to Jesus and worship according to the truth. This is evident when we see Jesus say elsewhere, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21) Also in Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So the kingdom of God is not a physical place, but a spiritual place. Jesus also said that, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

When we meet together in Jesus’ name he is there with us in the spirit. Truly then the kingdom of heaven is in our midst when we meet together for the King himself is with us. And the kingdom of God is not about church buildings, protocol, laws and regulations, but how we live our lives in accord with the words of Jesus. The true kingdom of heaven that is in our midst exists in the spiritual realm amongst the community of those who worship God according to the truth.

So how does this apply to the parable of mustard seed? We see the kingdom begins as a small seed. Within that seed is the tree that will grow if it is planted, fed and watered. In the same way the kingdom of God may start with us as a single word and a grain of faith, as faith is also compared to a mustard seed elsewhere (Luke 17:6) As a community the kingdom of God begins with one person as it did when Jesus began his ministry, and when Paul went from town to town preaching the words of the kingdom. And within each of us as individuals it began likewise with a single word, or belief.

Then as we learn and grow, the kingdom expands. At an individual level our knowledge grows and we learn how to be stable in the word, not tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. At the community level as people come to the kingdom it too grows and expands.

Which brings us to the second critical point in the parable of mustard seed being the birds that come and nest in the branches of the tree. When we consider this analogy we need to understand why the birds come. They nest in trees for protection from predators, security, comfort, rest and stability. These are exactly the same reasons why we come to the kingdom of heaven. We too as individuals and as a community of believers come to the Lord and his kingdom to find protection from the evil one, rest, security, peace and comfort from the problems of this life.

The kingdom of heaven provides these blessings in abundance and in the future the hope of an eternal salvation in God’s kingdom. May that day hasten and come soon.

Weeds Among the Wheat, Wheat and the Tares

(Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

Jesus provides another parable of what the kingdom of God is like in the parable of the weeds among the wheat, or as the KJV states, the tares among the wheat.

While we think of weeds in many ways and varieties, the original Greek word translated as weeds among the wheat or tares among the wheat was actually quite a specific type of weed. The word used was “zizania” which is a weed commonly known today as darnel. In it’s immature form it is very similar to wheat, but when the heads of grain appear than it can be distinguished quite easily from wheat. When wheat is fully grown the head of grain is quite heavy causing the head to droop on the plant and the grain is golden brown in colour. Darnel grains though are much smaller and are black. The effects of eating darnel are quite toxic for both man and livestock. Some of the symptoms noted when eaten are sleepiness, drowsiness, hypnotic episodes, convulsions, drunkenness, intoxication, trembling, inability to walk, hindered speech, vomiting, stupefaction and dim-sightedness.

Now knowing what these weeds are like and the effects of their consumption, we see this parable of the weeds among the wheat or tares among the wheat in a different light. Jesus gave us the parable in verses 24-30 and then at the disciples’ request he explained what it meant in verses 36-43. His explanation of the parable was, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, and the good seed means 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.”

There is a challenge for us today because the weeds are still among the wheat. We must understand first that the field is the world and the wheat is the sons of the kingdom. Where are the sons of the kingdom? They are in the churches of God worshiping the Lord. Jesus says that the enemy, the devil, has sown his weeds, the tares, among the field of wheat. So where are these evil ones? They too are among the churches. But their purpose is not to worship the Lord but to destroy and tear down God’s people.

As darnel looks like wheat in it’s early stages of growth, so too these people will look like Christians. They are well disguised, which is why they can grow and flourish in the churches almost undetected. In the end they will be rooted out from among God’s people and destroyed at the time of judgment. Their destructive influence in the cunning ways of the devil can uproot people, families and entire churches. This is why Jesus said in the parable to let them grow up with the wheat and they would be dealt with at the close of the age.

But in the mean time how are we to know these people and deal with them appropriately? Jesus said earlier in Matthew 7:16, “You will know them by their fruit.” It is what these people do that will distinguish them from the true believers. They will be hard to detect initially for they are well camouflaged, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, but their evil will come out for they will be unable to hide it. It is part of their heart and who they are. As the heart of a seed of darnel is black, so too the hearts of these people are black. Their desire is to overpower and take control of the church or the people of the church for their own ends, not the glory of God.

So why has Jesus allowed these people to continue in the church? There are several reasons. First in the explanation of the parable he says that if he were to root them up it may pull the wheat up at the same time. If you consider a field of wheat, it is like a carpet. Unlike a vegetable plot that has rows and access paths between the plants where weeds can be easily identified and removed, in a wheat field the tares and the wheat are closely intermingled. If you pull one up you may uproot the other at the same time. If you pull the darnel out while the wheat is still immature, then the wheat will never grow and come to maturity. Some of the weeds in the church may be very close to the true believers, perhaps even family members. If the weeds were removed, you could remove the rest of the family at the same time and the good people would be lost along with the bad people. They would not have the opportunity to learn and grow and come to maturity.

Our challenge is to gain as much insight as possible from the Lord so that we can distinguish the weeds from the wheat. Our job is to become mature in Christ so that we can see these people for what they are and beware of their false teaching and destructive influence.

In the end Jesus will deal with these people. If they are too destructive he will have them removed at the right time or will take his people away from them. If not, then he will deal with them at the close of the age. The evil will be gathered and go into judgment of fire while the wheat, those who follow Jesus, will be gathered into his kingdom and receive eternal life.