Text: Matt 13:24-30, 36-43
Heavenly Father, The parable of the wheat and the weeds — this is a very difficult passage to to swallow. We ask for understanding, Lord. Teach us, Lord. Help us to discern. Help us to evaluate and judge without being judgmental. Give us the right hearts, right understanding so that we can flourish in this life. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at 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.”’”
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 weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
We started talking about parables of Jesus last week and what we hopefully learned is that Jesus was very particular and deliberate when He spoke in parables. He did so to keep the crowds from understanding the meaning of the parables. It was intentional so that they would see him, yet they would not see. They would hear, yet they would not hear. They would try to understand with their hearts, yet they could not understand. It was intentional.
But to the disciples, the meaning of these parables was revealed. So we have to understand, whenever we read a parable, it is directed to the body of Christ. It is not for the world. It is for the body of Christ. And if you look at each of the parables, there is a corrective element in all the parables. He is trying to correct a portion or segment or maybe the majority of the body of Christ that does not understand something very critical.
And in this case, what is the wrong understanding that Jesus is trying to correct? I would say in one word, it’s humanism. Jesus is correcting Christians who are humanistic. And that humanistic tendency will rob them of the flourishing that is possible in Christ.
Let’s first understand why Jesus talked about wheat and weeds. Jackie did some research for us as we were going over this text for our family devotion. And she found out that there is a weed call darnel. And darnel looks very much like wheat. Actually, you cannot tell during its immature phase of growth that it is a weed because it looks just the same as wheat. But as soon as it is fully grown, you will notice that the seed is black.
Another interesting thing about darnel is that in large portions darnel is poisonous. But oddly it’s used in beer in small portions because it produces a high. There’s a so much there for us to think through. He’s saying there are sons of God. We are the good seed. The Son of Man planted His seeds. All of us Christians, we are His children. And then you have the sons of the Evil One. He’s also planted his sons. And the field is the world and and we understand, of course, there are non-Christians in the world. Of course, there are people who are lawbreakers in the world. Of course, there are people who would stumble me if I got really close to them because they don’t even believe in Christ. But the warning here is that because the sons of the Evil One are in the world, in the field, they are also in the Church.
Why is it that? Jesus doesn’t just rip them out. We understand there’s corruption in the world. Why is there corruption in the Church? Why is there deception in the Church? Satan actually already has the world in his back pocket. And so who is he going after? He’s going after the Church. He is sending agents into the Church to deceive, to bind, to confuse. And if you think through the Wedding Feast parable in Matthew 22, we read that many are called but few are chosen.
The invitation to attend the Wedding Feast goes out a couple times. Nobody responds. A third time, the invitation goes out and some people come. Among those gathered for the Wedding Feast, there’s somebody who’s not ready because he is not wearing a wedding garment. Jesus ends that parable in verse 14 — many are called few are chosen.
I think what this shows us is that God chooses some from the beginning. They are his called ones. Satan also chooses some from the beginning. They are his called ones. There are a few on both sides and then there’s everybody in between. They are called to the Banquet. Many are called. God is calling people to his side. And Satan is saying, no stay on my side. It is a battle for souls.
So what relevance does this have for the believer. I want to talk today about discernment. Because we need to be able to discern the weed-like people in our lives. Because if we do not distance ourselves from these weeds, we will be robbed of all that God has for us. Because what is the purpose of a weed? It is to steal the nutrients. That weed-like person is just taking up space in your life. And he or she will suck you dry of life.
God is so merciful that He allows the weed and the wheat to grow simultaneously because all the roots are intertwined. And so if you try to pull out the weeds, and let’s say God just pronounced judgement on the Church right now and everybody who is a weed is suddenly ripped up, the remaining wheat, the Christians, will be so disoriented. You mean that person was a weed? We would be so confused. So shaken by that kind of a judgement upon the Church that God in His mercy, He allows the weeds and the wheat to grow simultaneously because we’re all intertwined. We’re in the same churches. We’re in the body of Christ. This weed-like person is someone I call my brother and sister.
The reason why this passage is in here is because Jesus wants us to discern. He wants us to discern, just because they say they’re Christian, should I give them my ear? Should I invite them into my home? Should I become best friends with this person? We’re in the same small group. Should I should I invest all of my energy trying to help this person? Because if you spend your whole life trying to raise up a weed, are you ever going to produce fruit? You’re just going to waste your life.
And as I was just thinking through the topic of discernment, so many passages — the light bulb came on. For example, Matthew 7:1-2.
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
And we might take that to say, we cannot label somebody a potential weed, a weed-like person because isn’t that judging? Aren’t I pronouncing judgment upon them? Actually there is only one Judge. And so there is no ultimate judgment that any Christian can make about another believer or another so-called Christian. We cannot judge in an ultimate sense. But here it’s not saying we just close our eyes to what we see. The passage is telling us not to be judgemental.
Being judgmental is like you’re taking a yardstick and saying, does this person measure up to the kind of Christian that I that I think I am? And you are putting a measurement against someone in some way and concluding that you’re superior. That’s a judgmental person. Like I read the Bible 5 times a week. This person only read 3 times. And you judge them in that kind of a judgemental way. Jesus says, don’t be that kind of person because if you do, whatever measure you use against someone, it will be measured to you. And what we don’t realize is that we are very generous with ourselves and we’re very harsh when it comes to judging somebody else.
Discernment is a different matter. Let me show you that in Matthew 18.
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
We love to quote that last part, that where two or three are gathered there am I among them. But actually, the way the verse should be applied is when somebody sins against you, you bring a second, a third person to evaluate. Who’s telling the truth? And if this person actually sinned and there are others who agree with your assessment, are they repentant? And if they don’t repent, this is grounds for treating them like a Gentile and a tax collector, a non-Christian, an unbeliever.
Because for a believer, if they sin and this is an obvious sin — somebody sins against a person and has done something wrong against a person — and it’s an obvious thing and there are witnesses who can vouch for you and agree, yes, I saw it. I agree with this person. Then, you should repent. Assuming you are a Christian indwelt by the Holy Spirit, when a sin is brought up, there ought to be repentance. What if a person refuses? It means the Holy Spirit is not there. That means you treat them, even though they used to be called your brother or sister in Christ, you treat them as a non-believer.
This is different than, well, I know your motives. I know your intentions. You cannot discern motives and intentions. We are not God. And we’re not the Judge. We don’t know the end. We don’t know whether or not someone is a weed. No, we just see in this one incident that is so obvious to two or three, this person has sinned and is not repenting. And because there is no ability to repent or refusal to repent, that means you treat them as an unbeliever. That is not being judgemental. That is just obeying God’s word. And discerning — does this person have the Holy Spirit?
1 Cor 5
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
1 Cor 5
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Paul is basically saying this person who is committing an obvious sexual sin like drunkenness, it’s something that’s is so obvious like you catch the person stumbling out of a bar. The sin is obvious. And you might think, Paul is so lacking in compassion because he wants to deliver this person to Satan. Actually, what he is doing is the most loving. The most unloving thing you could do is to embrace that person and say you’re okay. Yeah, you sinned, we all sin, it’s okay. You got drunk. Yeah, I got drunk last week. It’s okay. We all struggle with sexual sin. You cheated on your wife? It’s okay. We all do it. That is satanic! You’re condemning this person to hell by acting that way toward an obvious sin. The most loving thing you could do is to hand that person over to Satan. Then, he feels the full consequences of his sin. You don’t treat him like a believer, you don’t associate with him. He’s out of the church.
And if he sees, wow, this thing is serious. The people who used to embrace me and invite me into their home. They don’t do it anymore. Sin is serious. And the hope is that person who has been delivered over to Satan and feels the full weight of the consequences of their sin, they come to their senses. And then a day later, a week later, a year later, they show up back at the church and say, I’m ready to repent. Can I be restored into the fellowship?
It’s interesting — it says we do not judge the outsiders. But the other interesting thing that you might not have caught is that it says you ARE to judge the church. You are to judge, not as an ultimate judgment, not saying you are a weed for sure, you’re going to hell. Or this is your motive. Who knows the the motives of one’s heart except the person? But if a person is obviously sinning, we are to judge sin for the sake of the final salvation of that brother or sister.
In 1 John 1, John warns about false teachers. So far we’ve been just talking about brothers and sisters in the church who may be a weed. But there’s a lot of warning about false teachers. John uses the term “antichrist.” I used to think this means somebody who is in opposition to Christ. That is one meaning, but I think the more useful meaning is that antichrist means “in place of Christ.” A false teacher is someone who teaches something in place of Christ.
I can go to a church for some time and ask, what is the take away? Is it Christ? Or is it church, or is it fellowship, or is it ministry? Is it social work? The place of supremacy that is reserved for Christ alone, is that what is talked about? Is He the reason why we’ve gathered at the church? What do we insert in place of Christ? That is an antichrist spirit. And John says, to such people, do not even greet them. Do not welcome them into your home. Kick that pastor out if they do not preach Christ first and foremost.
Jesus warned us in Matthew 16 about the leaven of the Pharisees, which is their teaching. Just a little pinch and it affects the whole dough. So if Jesus is preached, he’s in there. He’s in the dough, but there’s a slight deviation. There are some other things that vie for second place, third place, but it’s rising. On some Sundays, they are actually becoming first place, but you don’t discern it because Jesus is there. He’s mixed into the dough.
This leaven — can you take it out of the dough? After you put it in there, can you actually extract just the leaven and salvage the dough? No. The whole thing is contaminated. And so there’s a teaching which mentions Christ. But inserted are little pieces of other teachings. Jesus said that a little leaven can ruin the whole thing. We must preach a pure gospel. Jesus is pure. The job of a teacher is to make sure Jesus is supreme.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
There are many in the church who believe in Jesus, who trust Jesus, who have entrusted themselves to Jesus. But did you know that Jesus has not entrusted Himself to many who have put their trust in Him? It is pure discernment. He sees what’s in that person. He sees what’s motivating that person and He does not entrust himself to many. To those who say, I trust you, Jesus. Still, Jesus does not trust them.
We are not Jesus. We cannot know what’s in a man. We can not know what’s in a woman. We cannot know the intentions, the motives, the motivations. We cannot see all that, but there are certain things you can pick up on.
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
It all comes down to how people respond to Jesus. If you’re a humanistic person, you just want everybody to be on the same page. You just trust everybody so easily. You just accept everybody into your inner circle. You don’t question people. You don’t spend time discerning what kind of Christian they are. You’re very inclusive. You’re very kind. You’re very welcoming.
Did you know that spiritually, there’s division? At every moment, even in your home, whether you see it or not, there’s division. And this has nothing to do with emotional closeness or history or having a common bond or common experiences or similar hobbies and interests. It has nothing to do with all of that. It’s just purely discerning, is this person on the side of Jesus?
Did Jesus entrust Himself to this person? Are they truly a wheat? Or are they a weed pretending to be a wheat? Are they a true sheep? Or simply a wolf in sheep’s clothing? If you’re humanistic, this whole teaching goes over your head. You think this has no relevance.
I want to end with Heb 12.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The part where it says, the sin that clings so closely. Another translation is a sin that entangles. To me, it’s the same imagery as a wheat and a weed whose roots are entangled. One thing that we need to throw off are our humanistic ties to people. We need to throw off people who are not helping us to grow spiritually.
We’re not pronouncing judgement. Don’t get me wrong. We’re not saying this person is a weed for sure. Well, obviously if they’re not a believer, they are a weed. But even if they say they’re a believer, they could be a weed right now. That doesn’t mean they’re going to stay a weed forever. We are not saying, they will never become a wheat. We are not pronouncing ultimate judgment, but we are discerning and judging at present.
And just like a little leaven. A little bit of this darnel is all it takes to produce a high. Jesus is saying, these people who are close to you, their words are producing a high. What happens when you become high? You lose your judgment. You cannot see things clearly. You make terrible decisions. It just takes a little of darnel to produce beer.
You might think that these people who are speaking into your life, what they are saying is totally right. It’s harmless. It’s good common-sense advice, but you do not realize that these words are impairing your judgment. They are putting a glaze over your eyes and it is making your heart dull. So we have to be careful. This person that you’re reaching out to and spending so much time with in the body of Christ, are they growing? Are they producing fruit? Or, are you wasting your time? Because if they are a weed, they will suck you dry.
One of Satan’s greatest tricks is that he wants you to be so tired chasing after the weeds,
putting fertilizer on the weeds, trying to care for the weeds. And you think this is good Christian behavior. Certain people — you just have to distance yourself from them for a season. You’re not helping them. Actually, they are hurting you. Because at the end of 10 hours of ministry, you’re so tired. And because you’re tired, you don’t seek the Lord. That’s exactly what Satan wants. He does not want you to seek Jesus. He wants you be so tired due to your entanglements with weed-like people.
If you marry a weed, your life is going to be so difficult. Because you’re literally entangled with this person for life. It is so difficult. If there are weeds in your family, which simply means, there’s division. They’re not on the same page as you regarding Jesus. That is so difficult. Because we still have to honor them. We still have to care for them. It doesn’t mean we have to go above and beyond and let their words, like darnel, impair our judgment and make us spiritually dull.
We are to discern. Who are the wheat? Let me gather with the wheat. All of the wheat gathered in this room — let us fix our gaze upon Jesus. All the entanglements which are relational — let’s throw them off. Not forever. Hopefully just for a season. Hopefully these loved ones will come around. Right now, they’re like darnel. There is a danger there. I got to keep a distance. I’ll still support them. I’ll be there when I when I can. I’m not going to be best friends. I’m not going to be the best son or daughter. There’s a season — I just got to keep a little distance.
There will be a time, God willing, when their hearts will be open. One day, I’ll get a chance to speak into their lives and we’ll be on the same page. Ultimately. I’m not the Judge. But for right now, I’m discerning that with this person, this family member, I’ve got to keep some distance. That is actually the most loving thing you can do. The most loving thing you can do to a believer in sin is to not treat them like they are okay. That is the most loving thing we can do to a family member who is not on the same page spiritually. We don’t just play the part of good son or daughter and allow them to lecture us about the ways of the world. And possibly impairing our own spiritual discernment in the process and causing us to make bad decisions in life.
We care for them, but we discern, is this a season that I should be close? Because as soon as you’re close, you start getting entangled. Their thoughts start creeping in unless you’re very strong. Their thoughts will start eroding away your judgment.
There’s a discernment regarding false teachers. You don’t even let them into your home. Are they preaching Christ or is there a substitute?
It is a spiritual battle. Satan has called a few from the beginning to be weeds. We don’t like that teaching. From the beginning, in the same way that God has chosen some from the beginning, Satan, likewise, has chosen some from the beginning. Actually those whom God did not choose are automatically Satan’s. And I think actually God’s number is a few. Satan’s number is a few. That means a majority is up for grabs.
And from God’s side, many are called. Many have the opportunity to be saved. Satan says, No, stay exactly where you are. You’re fine. A little bit of religion, that’s all you need. Stay secular. Chase the world. Chase your money. The majority of the world is up for grabs.
And those of us who are called, not only called but also chosen, we are the ones sent to go after those who are not coming to the Wedding Feast. You’ve got to come! Come to the Feast! And we’re telling people who’ve already come, how come you’re not dressed? Aren’t you getting ready for your marriage to Jesus? Aren’t you happy to see Jesus?
This is a difficult teaching. That Satan has from the very beginning of time, he has people that are on his side and who will never change. They’re born from him. They are his sons and daughters. And they’re infiltrating, not only the world, but the church. Jesus is giving us a heads up. That there is a spiritual battle. And the church is filled with enemies. And they look just like us. They say the same things. They repeat the same doctrines. They sing the same hymns. They are just like us on the surface. And if we do not discern, they will suck every last nutrient from you because that is their man purpose.
Jesus says, even within a home, it is divided. We may or may not be in the last days. But in the last days, father will betray son. Mother will betray daughter. You and I will be flogged in churches and synagogues. Right now, we don’t see it. It seems like we’re all friends and family. But spiritually, there is division even in the home if they’re not on the same side as you in regard to Jesus.
The most loving thing you can do for a brother or sister who is in sin is to call them out with a hope that they will repent.
Father, we are having trouble accepting this teaching. It is such a difficult teaching. But this explains why so many in the body of Christ are not bearing the kind of food that you promised. Could it be that we’ve gotten close to people and are intertwined with people who are not on Your side? Could it be that there are enemies from the very beginning sent by the Evil One?
But it is our hope, it has our prayer that all of our friends who don’t believe in You and all of our family members who don’t believe in You will one day believe in You and we will celebrate along with all of the hosts of heaven on the day of their salvation.
Right now, if they’re not with You, they are against You. Right now, if they are not Your friend, they’re Your enemy. That means we need to see them clearly. We need to discern — is it a time to be close? Or is it a time to be distant?
Father, help us, all the singles here, may no one here marry a weed. It’ll be such a difficult life for them if they marry the wrong person. Give them discernment. Bring the right husband and right wife to them, those who are on your side, Lord Jesus.
We pray that within the body of Christ, if there are weeds, that we would recognize them. And at the proper time, we would do the most loving thing and gently point out their sin in hopes that they would repent. That they would become a true wheat in the field of God.
We’ve become so humanistic, esp. in this age of political correctness, the Church has become so blind to this parable. We accept everyone who bears Your Name. We accept every teacher into our homes. Every teaching we listen to without discernment. Help us, Lord. This parable is for us today in the Church.
Give us discernment. We all want to bear fruit. And bearing fruit involves discerning and recognizing the weeds. Help us, Lord. Give us discernment within our family — who can we be close to, who do we need to keep a distance from? When is the right season, when is the right timing when you’re going to move and save this person? Give us discernment, Lord.
Help us to be patient. If there are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ who have gathered to attend the Wedding Banquet, but they’re not dressed properly, help us to lovingly point that out. We don’t want to be so busy that when You come we’re unprepared.
Father, we repent of our humanism. Forgive us, Lord. Our humanistic tendency has caused us to become so dull. This is the blindness of this age. So humanistic. Give us discernment, Lord. I pray that every single one gathered here would be a true wheat. To the end bearing much fruit, flourishing, not only called to the banquet but properly clothed. Not just called but chosen. Not just chosen but sent.
The vast majority of this world is up for grabs. The world is up for grabs. Satan wants us to stay put. God, you want them to come to the banquet, to be called to the Banquet of Salvation, to be chosen for salvation. Send us out when the time is right. For even one lost sheep, send us out, Lord.
In Jesus name, Amen