Looks can be deceiving
Scripture reading – Revelation 14:14–16: “And I looked and behold, a white cloud and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped.”
This text describes the 2nd coming of Jesus. As we read on in chapter 14 we find that there are actually 2 harvests taking place almost simultaneously. Both get reaped.
The 1st one reaped is the harvest of the wicked who fully developed their characters after the selfish image of the “prince of darkness” – they became “fully ripe”.
Then there is the 2nd harvest of the “godly”, they also fully developed their characters after the likeness of Christ – they “grew into the fullness of the stature of Christ”.
In last 2 sermons we studied the meaning of the phrase “the gospel of the
We have found out that the word gospel cannot stand alone. It has to be tied to “the
What does that mean? By accepting the gospel we exchange our citizenship.
We get transferred from one reality to another.
We are no longer citizens of the kingdom of darkness with all that it entails (its values, thinking, motivation, goals with resulting lifestyle, habits and behavior,).
We are delivered from this stark reality and are transformed into a brand new reality:
Colossians 1:12–14: “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
This is the kingdom of God’s grace and love where completely new motives, values and principles rule.
In our 2nd study we pointed that Jesus used a good number of parables to teach the realities of “the
We studied the parable of the Sower and 4 different kinds of soils.
What have we learned?
- gospel of the kingdom is offered to all to receive it and hold on to
- there are 4 basic types of responses (by the wayside – hard soil, shallow ground, ground that is uncultivated and allowed to overgrow with weeds, a good soil)
- (Briefly summarize)
Today we will look at another parable of the kingdom – “Tares among the wheat”.
Matthew 13:24–30: Another parable He put to them saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in the field; but while men slept his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them up in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
In our previous study in the parable of the soils we found a reference to Christ’s enemy – where?
Under the listeners represented by hard soils! Satan attempts to divert people’s attention away from the word, pay no attention to it and forget it.
Indirectly we can see him behind other 2 types of soil as well.
But in the parable of “the wheat and tares” Jesus exposes another reality that has caused much confusion to many people’s thinking. Skeptics blame the church and “the religion” for all the evils in the world. It also becomes an excuse that covers people’s unwillingness to submit to Christ’s Lordship.
Let’s read Christ’s explanation of this parable – Matthew 13:36–43: Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of
- Jesus is the One who sows the good seed into men’s hearts – His word and truth
- Jesus came to establish His church that consists of truehearted disciples
- Satan is active to corrupt Christ’s church by sowing wrong principles into peoples hearts, sowing errors and bringing unconverted into the church
- Then he turns the attention of unbelievers on those bearing false witness to discredit the whole Christian church blaming it for all the evils done in the world
- The OT Church got corrupted so badly at times that only a small remnant was counted as God’s true people (in Elijah’s time only 7000)
- Times before the flood – finally only Noah and his family
- Even among the disciples of Jesus was a rotten apple – Judas
- In the early apostolic church there was Ananias and Sapphira
- Heresies of Gnosticism, legalism or lawlessness and apostasy plagued varied churches in early apostolic times (see the epistle of 1 John, Galatians)
- In increased manner Christ’s church plunged into the dark ages. There were very few true followers of Jesus as they were persecuted, tortured, massacred by the corrupted official church drunk with political and economic power
- How do you see Christianity today – especially in the affluent cultures?
In our parable the servants felt that the best way to deal with this problem was to uproot the tares.
What did the Master told them would be a problem with such an approach?
Can we today in the much fragmented, confused and compromised Christianity accurately judge the genuinness and character of individual believers?
Master says – let them grow together until harvest.
We can only observe the external symptoms.
Some strong willed individuals can keep external control over much of their behavior
Some weak people who have not learned to live by faith and trust in the enabling power of God’s grace may appear as bad, uncommitted and inconsistent – sometimes looking even much worse than the strong willed self-righteous individuals.
Someone struggling with some bad habits or besetting sins may keep falling over and over.
How long has it taken for you to gain victory over some of your darling sins and selfish ways?
While God’s promises of victory over sin are many, their realization may take time.
Even in the church are the 2 classes of believers – the wheat and the tares and friends – the looks can be deceiving!
And we too can be easily self-deceived into a false security! Notice Christ’s warning to confident attitude of many professed disciples all through the ages – (Matthew 7:21–27: “Not everyone who says to Me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your name?’ And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness!’ Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house and it did not fall for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house and fell. And great was its fall.”
It really matters whether we are firmly grafted into Christ and have His living words as a protective and empowering influence in our lives and then live it out!
Can the Lord convert the tares?
Perhaps not in our parable, but in a real life many professed believers who wear the badge of Christianity when exposed to the power of God’s word, to a witness and example of God’s followers can by the miracle of God’s grace and love turn into wheat.
What lessons can we learn from this parable?
1) Don’t get discouraged by unconverted and false disciples in the church.
2) Rather than looking at others you and me need to ask ourselves this question: Really, is my profession and confession for real or have I been allowing the wrong kinds of seeds a receptive environment in my heart and life?
3) Am I just a hearer or simultaneously the hearer, receiver and doer of God’s word?