By Ryan Shaw
The parable of the wheat and the tares is the second parable in Matthew 13 (24-30; 36-43) which Jesus gives and interprets Himself. Jesus spoke this parable to the multitude yet the interpretation was given only to the disciples themselves.
The first focuses on Jesus’ method of introducing His Kingdom in the world through sowing “sons of the Kingdom” to produce fruit.
This second parable highlights the work of Satan to disrupt God’s work, by sowing sin into the world and hindering Jesus’ work of restoring His Kingdom to its original intention before the fall.
The picture is of two sowings. The first sowing was a perfectly natural sowing, according to the true order of things. The owner sowed with the view of a complete harvest in mind.
Then an enemy came and sowed with the distinct plan of thwarting the harvest. It was an unnatural act of sowing, to spoil, to destroy and to hinder the original purpose.
The owner says, “an enemy has done this,” yet instructs his servants to leave the field alone until the harvest. Then no mistakes will be made as to the difference between the seed types.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Psalm 24:1).” Though an enemy has entered His domain and brought devastation, Jesus is the supreme owner.
The enemy sows bad seed in the field. His method of “sowing” is crucial to understand. He does so “among the wheat.” Mixing counterfeit with real it is difficult to tell the difference at first glance. His form of deception imitates the wheat, producing harm as time goes on.
His “ministry” of imitation is a primary scheme used to gain a foothold in the lives of believers and unbelievers alike. He is not creative, merely imitating what God has created.
The books of Acts reveals much of this imitation among believers. Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) were of this sort as was Simon Magus who tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). The New Testament speaks of those who “crept in” to the fellowships of believers, who were “not of us (Jude 4).”
At first glance they appear like the true wheat. Yet they speak “another doctrine” with false teaching. They teach a people-pleasing message, minimizing the place of the cross, building confidence in a false message of grace apart from repentance and forsaking sin. We find this same message growing in popularity in parts of the church today.
Satan’s scheme is to destroy God’s testimony by introducing an imitation form of “Christianity” which is nothing of the true sort. This happens within the confines of the professing “church.”
The imitation is extremely religious though against the heart of God. These profess the name of Jesus holding to some fundamental teachings yet have mixed these with poisonous lies, twisting Scripture to their own ends. Their spirit is not the “spirit of Jesus” but the “spirit of the age.”
“Tares” are not evil-looking people blaspheming Jesus as Lord. We must get out of the mindset these will be apparent to all believers as they speak outright lies. Absolutely not!
They generally speak orthodox doctrine yet with a spin. The main problem false teachers had in the New Testament is called, in theological terms, “Antinomianism”.
It refers to teaching God’s grace as obtaining forgiveness apart from repenting of sin and turning from it. This issue was all over the ancient world and is equally prevalent today. It is the communicating of Christian freedom, giving the false impression we can be forgiven while continuing in willful sin. It provides comfort as people continue in sin.
It is an affront to the cross and holy heart of God. Instead we call people to repent, fighting within their hearts against the particular sin and walking in fellowship with Jesus with all their heart.
Satan presently has his own growing “church” within the true “church” and is preparing to bring forth an imitation “Christ.” An important reminder is Satan often influences as an angel of light. We wrongly assume all is evil which is outwardly so and all is holy which is conservative, moral, “good” and religious.
This is part of the deception of the “religious” spirit. It is the latter that are Satan’s most deceiving weapons. The attempt to think our morality, goodness and knowledge is what is necessary instead of the cross of Jesus.
Satan has sown an imitation form of “Christianity” around the world. This imitation paints “Christianity” as a “western religion,” making it difficult to be accepted widespread across certain Asian cultures as well as those of Arabs and other middle-eastern cultures.
This imitation form of “Christianity” reminds billions of people of the horrendous history of Christendom and its barbarous actions. It makes the “forms” of Christianity the focal point instead of the substance of true discipleship and the New Testament standards of the church.
This form of “church” is often a western model transplanted globally. Buildings, worship styles, etc. These and many other assumed forms are keeping millions of unbelievers from ever thinking they would become “Christians.” The term itself “Christian” is an unnecessary “form” and a hindrance for millions.
Due to the negative history and assumed western imperialism connected to this term, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus would never imagine becoming a “Christian” and being called by this name. This would be so even if they sought to believe in Jesus. In these cultures, alternative terms need to be adopted.
This heightens the need for Message Bearers to strip the gospel of all its cultural hindrances. We want to see it incarnated among people in a simple, complex free, culturally relevant, means.