A parable is a figure of speech, an extended metaphor, a story using common actions or circumstances designed to illustrate a spiritual truth, a principle, or a moral lesson. The word parable comes from the Greek word parabole, which means to place beside or side by side for the purpose of comparison. A parable can usually be identified by the use of the word “like.” This was the method of teaching Jesus used most often.
Matthew 13:24-43 is the only Gospel to record the controversial parable titled The Wheat and the Tares.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his 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 then 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, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
That’s it, complete with abrupt ending. His disciples came to Him and asked the meaning. “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” They didn’t guess and spiritualize and make up all kinds of ridiculous theological interpretations. They came to the Master and Jesus gave them straight answers, leaving no room for speculation.
“He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Jesus Christ came to this world making redemption and salvation available to all mankind. Through the centuries, the devil has deceived and cheated as many people as possible out of the simplicity of believing. Centuries have passed and generations have come and gone, but God is waiting until the end of the age which He alone knows. Then comes the Great White Throne Judgment recorded in Revelation 20:11-15 when God will sort, as in this parable, the wheat from the tares.
Tares look like wheat but they are poisonous. The devil has been “planting” his children among the righteous for a long time, always attempting to thwart the purposes of God, to steal, kill and destroy God’s people, using and misusing the things of God, counterfeiting everything he can to “deceive the very elect” as Matthew 24:24 reveals (KJV).
Although everyone has free will, not all people will choose to believe. Jesus knows those that are His. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27, 28) Those who may think their eternity is assured better be certain that their lives are lived in accordance with God’s Word. “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” (Matthew 15:13) Even more sobering are these words: “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.” (Matthew 7:21) Crowns are only for the conquerors. (Revelation 3:21)
God has provided His Word and His will in the pages of the Bible which reveals the truth about everything that mankind needs to have a loving relationship with Him and be victorious in this life. He has “given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…” Every human being has a choice, whether they will be gathered with the wheat, or be among the tares. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14)