As a prophet, Jesus reveals to us the will of God for our salvation. In the Parable of the Weeds (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43), Jesus helps us make sense of His sometimes-cryptic language found throughout His parables. We know that the Lord Jesus often employed parables, or visual stories with one big idea, to teach. In His love and mercy, the Son of God has given to us a glossary to help us properly understand the meaning in the parable of the weeds.
The parable, in its raw form, was presented to disciples and non-disciples alike. But the explanation was provided to the disciples alone, so that they might understand the mysteries that Christ withheld from others who were not His disciples.
When we take a moment to consider this parable, we observe that it is not very complex. It is the simple account of a master and his field. The master had his servants set up his field. This master was simply looking for a profitable return of wheat, yet while his men slept, a villain emerged. This villain, hell-bent on ruining this master’s work came, and spread weeds in his field. The villain’s work was successful, but not final. Upon learning of this vexing situation, the servants came to their master asking, “do you want us to go and gather [the weeds]?” (v.28 ESV) Now, the Master could have said, “Gather it all up! Burn it all! It’s all tainted.” But notice that instead, the master said, “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the 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.'” (vv.29-30 ESV) The Master instructed them to wait. Let the wheat grow. Let the weeds grow. And at the right time, other servants of the Master will take care of these two sets accordingly.
Jesus explained the meaning to this parable by providing for us what these symbols mean: “The one who sows the good seed [the Master] 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.” (vv. 37-39 ESV) Jesus used the images appropriate for a community of farmers to reveal the secrets of the kingdom of God. The weeds Satan dispersed are so dangerous because they look precisely like the wheat. The weed in question is called ‘bearded darnel’ (lolium temulentem), and it is poisonous. Here, we see the villainy of Satan! Satan’s desire was not merely the corruption of the field as a whole, but the death of those who would ordinarily eat from it. The devil is not a figment of imagination, nor a symbol for evil but is a creature, a fallen angel. Satan is not equal to God or Christ in power or ability. God is the Creator and infinitely above the created charlatan known as the devil.
What is the point of this whole passage? When we understand the sons of the evil one (the weeds) as those men and women who hate God or are apathetic towards Him and are still under the curse of their sin, we are taught that true Christians will always be surrounded by such individuals. We are called as the people of God, as sons of the kingdom, to have patience and endure. There will never be a perfect society this side of heaven. If we establish a ‘Christian world’ inevitably weeds will grow within it.
Therefore, God desires our eyes to be set where they ought to be, not on this world and its perpetual failures and fiascos in sin, but towards Him. Our eyes need to be fixed on our true home, the New Jerusalem. Our world screams out that this parable is true.
Evil takes on all new sorts of clothes in our age as our newspapers make clear. We need a remedy only Christ can provide. We must endure as the people of God. We must be zealous for Christ and trust that God will have the last word. Regardless of all of Satan’s attempts and the mirage of success amongst the weeds. God will have the last word and that word is justice. The weeds do not inherit the promise of eternal life, but eternal suffering with the devil and his angels. May we look to the Lord in hope, knowing that though we suffer now we shall be made like Him in glory.
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