Jesus spoke all these things in parables to the crowds; he did not speak to them without a parable. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet:“I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”Matthew 13:34
My great uncle Dennis was a big man, tall and broad shouldered. He was a farmer and a pretty good one at that. He was also something of a character. He didn’t go to school for very long and couldn’t read or write beyond his own name. But, he could tell a story. He had a saying or story for every situation and was constantly telling one of them. I once heard him say someones house was so small “ you couldn’t cuss a cat without getting cat hair in your mouth”. Most of his stories were meant just to entertain. But every now and then he would dust off a moral tale meant to warn you away from doing something you shouldn’t be doing. As a young boy I enjoyed the entertaining or funny ones best. The moral stories were less to my liking. Some of his stories I heard many times. I think, having conversational skills and being able to spin a good yarn were more important in those days, before television and smart phones took over the world. The preacher at the local Baptist church was also given to telling some little joke or humorous tale before he got down to the serous business of saving your soul. Storytelling is just part of southerners DNA, we can’t help it.
Jesus must have been a southerner. He was given to telling his followers one story after another. In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew Jesus tells five in a row! That might have been a record even for uncle Dennis. Jesus’ stories were meant to accomplish the task of conveying important information to a specific group of people, his twelve Apostles and us. We who follow Jesus as his disciples and have the opportunity to inherit he kingdom with him should understand what he taught. In Matthew 13:10-16 we read. (New English Translation)
10 Then the disciples came to him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He replied, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not. 12 For whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 For this reason I speak to them in parables: Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand. 14 And concerning them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
‘You will listen carefully yet will never understand,
you will look closely yet will never comprehend.
For the heart of this people has become dull;
they are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes,
so that they would not see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 “But your eyes are blessed because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
I think in light of what Jesus says here we are supposed to study to understand what he says in these parables. He lets us know in no uncertain terms that it’s a great honor to be allowed to understand what he teaches. Armed with that information I want to concentrate on the second of these five parables. It’s known as the parable of the weeds. Before we read it I want to explain what the weeds are. It’s a plant called darnel. The scientific name is Lolium temulentum. It is an especially undesirable weed that bears an uncanny resemblance to wheat until the ears of grain appear. So close is the resemblance to genuine wheat that darnel is sometimes called “false wheat.” Darnel is considered poisonous; ingesting the weed causes feelings of drunkenness and can prove fatal. Under Roman law the sowing of such poisonous plants in someone else’s field was specifically prohibited. It was bad stuff. So, let’s read the parable carefully and see what we can glean from it. Matthew 13:24-30
24 He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat and went away. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the darnel also appeared. 27 So the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the darnel come from?’ 28 He said, ‘An enemy has done this!’ So the slaves replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather it?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the darnel you may uproot the wheat along with it. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burned, but then gather the wheat into my barn.”
With this parable we are fortunate to have Jesus explain it’s meaning to us because the Disciples specifically asked him to explain it to them. In verses 36-43 it says.
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world and the good seed are the people of the kingdom. The poisonous weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 As the poisonous weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears had better listen!
There are a few things here that are extremely important as they go against some current teachings. First notice that the darnel was planted immediately after the wheat. This means the darnel isn’t some new heresy that just came along in recent years but was something that is very old, almost as old as the gospel itself. Secondly, the wheat and the darnel look almost exactly alike. They are difficult to distinguish from each other and grow together. Thirdly, they will not be separated one from the other until the end of the age and we are not to be in the business of trying to weed them out. Forth, At the end of the age the angels will be sent out to remove and destroy the darnel (the people who are lawbreakers and those that cause sin). Only after this removal of the unrighteous will the people of God inherit the kingdom.
I believe with a careful analysis we can see from this parable that there is a VERY old heresy that looks very much like real christianity. It has prospered and grown to the point that it’s adherents probably out number actual christians. I say that because Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14
13“Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Fifth, the way Jesus teaches what will happen at the end of the age is very much at odds with modern ideas of what will happen. Notice that the unrighteous are removed first then the righteous shine forth in God’s kingdom.
This blog is all about the words of Jesus. He is the only person in human history that God spoke audibly from heaven and said “listen to him”. He is the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15. When two doctrines are not in agreement we MUST accept the version that Jesus taught even if the other person claims to be an apostle or prophet. You can’t have it two different ways. One is right and one is wrong. Always listen to and obey Jesus. You can’t possibly go wrong if you do. Unlike my uncle Dennis’ stories, Jesus’ stories and his parables aren’t just southern porch stories, they are the word of God.
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