The Scriptorium

Wheat and Tares

Here is a defining parable. Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43

Matthew 13: Kingdom Extravaganza (3)

Pray Psalm 80.1-3.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!
Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
Stir up Your strength,
And come and save us!
Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

Sing Psalm 80.1-3.
(St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
O God of grace, restore us, and shine on us Your face!
O save us, Lord, work for us; renew us by Your grace!
Give ear, O gracious Savior, Who leads us as Your flock:
Stir up Your pow’r and favor, our King and Lord and Rock!

Read Matthew 13.1-30, 36-43; meditate on verses 24-30, 36-43.

1. What does the field represent in this parable?

2. What do the wheat and tares represent?

In many ways, this is the defining parable of Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God. It portrays conditions in the whole world (v. 38), from the beginning of Christ’s sowing of the Kingdom seed to the final days of harvest (vv. 37, 40, 41). The parable embraces the whole of humankind, dividing them into two nations, or cities as Augustine would have it – those who bear true Kingdom fruit and those who do not. It provides an earthly stage for the great spiritual warfare that has gone on since Satan’s rebellion against God in heaven. The parable addresses the final disposition and estate of all human beings. And it looks past the events of time and history to the final shining forth of the eternal Kingdom of the Father (v. 43).

Thus, this parable should provide a framework for our thinking, being, and doing as those who are forcing our way into the Kingdom of Jesus, deeper and deeper, day by day. We are engaged in a great spiritual warfare, and our calling, as we follow Jesus, is to sow, cultivate, defend, and tend to the good seed of the Kingdom of God. By our prayers, our good works, our conversations and witness, and our labors to advance the rule of Christ in every aspect of life, we are co-workers with Christ in bringing His Kingdom to expression on earth as it is in heaven.

We have a great, relentless, powerful, but bound foe who works continuously to thwart and undo all our Kingdom efforts. The world will always have an abundance of evil that impinges on and threatens to undermine and eradicate all Kingdom righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. But as Jesus goes forth each day, conquering and to conquer, so must we, each of us into our own niche and sector of the world, for as long as the Lord is pleased to keep us here, working to sow and nurture good Kingdom fruit in every area of life.

Two more things: Note that Jesus says on the last day, His angels “will gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness” (v. 41). In the Kingdom of God are those who seem to belong there, but actually do not, and will not withstand the coming judgment, because they have no use for the Law of God (cf. Ps. 1.4-6). All who, whether by neglect or conscious choice, reject the Law of God will be seen as offensive to God, and will be removed from their supposed place in the Kingdom of the righteous.

Then, finally, we note that the world is the field in which Kingdom fruit is being sown and produced. The world is not a weed field, waiting to be burned: it is a wheat field, fraught with vast potential for bringing forth Kingdom fruit to the glory of God. It wants only laborers to join Jesus in His yoke, as He works to make all things new.

If you’re not laboring to bring the Kingdom of God to light, then you are working on the side of those powers that want to suppress and eradicate it. Devote yourself afresh to God, day by day, and go forth to sow, cultivate, and bear good Kingdom fruit in all you do.

1. Why do we say that this is a “defining” parable?

2. Does it make a difference whether we regard the world as a wheat field to be sown and cultivated, or a weed field to be burned? Explain.

3. What opportunities for sowing good Kingdom seed are before you today?

Consider now, if in addition to what we have already recounted, you can otherwise take the good seed to be the children of the kingdom, because whatever good things are sown in the human soul, these are the offspring of the kingdom of God. They have been sown by God the Word who was in the beginning with God. Wholesome words about anything are children of the kingdom.
Origen (185-254), Commentary on Matthew 10.2

Lord, today as I go out into my Personal Mission Field – my part of Your field – help me to…

Pray Psalm 80.4-19.
Pray for God to renew His vine, to cultivate the field of the world for revival and awakening, and to call His people to repentance and renewal in all things.

Sing Psalm 80.4-19.
Psalm 80.4-19 (St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
How long will You ignore all Your people’s fervent prayer?
Shall bitter tears fall ever?  O Lord, renew Your care!
Our neighbors mock and scorn us, they laugh at our distress;
renew, O Lord, and turn us, look down on us and bless!

You set us free from sin, Lord, and planted us in grace;
we rooted in Your strong Word have spread from place to place.
Our shadow covered mountains, our branches reached the sea;
Your grace flowed like a fountain of life, abundantly.

Now You in wrath have spoken and bruised Your chosen vine.
We languish, Lord, are broken by wrath, deserved, divine.
Once more, Lord, hear our pleading: return and heal this vine!
Look down on us, so needy, and show Your love divine!

Though we be burned and perish because of Your command,
revive us, Lord, and cherish this son of Your right hand.
Then let us not return to our sinful, selfish ways,
but call on You and learn to surround You with our praise.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore