A Bible study on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
CONTEXT OF THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND WEEDS
This parable in Matthew 13:24-30 is one of a series of parables that Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven and how his disciples are meant to live in this world in light of this kingdom. From Matthew 13:34, we understand that Jesus spoke this parable to a crowd of people, and this included his close group of disciples.
One of the benefits of studying this parable is that it is one of the parables in the Gospels where Jesus’ clear explanation of its meaning to his disciples is recorded. From Matthew 13:36-43, we learn that the good sower in the parable represents Jesus and the seeds he has sown are those who have put their trust in Jesus and become sons of the kingdom. The enemy represents Satan and the weeds represent those who follow him. Finally, the harvest represents the time when Jesus will return to judge all who oppose him and gather together God’s people for his kingdom.
IMPLICATIONS OF THIS PARABLE
From this parable, it is clear that God’s people are to expect opposition in this life from those who reject him. Perhaps Jesus’ disciples were expecting that Jesus was immediately going to establish a perfect kingdom on earth where all people would submit to God and there would be no more opposition. Yet Jesus is clear that the final harvest time hasn’t come yet, and until then, Satan is actively working against God’s kingdom through sowing weeds. Notice that this problem of weeds in the field is not small but appears to be widespread. This weed problem was big enough to make the servants concerned about the safety of the wheat. Furthermore, the weeds are so closely associated with the wheat of the field that they cannot be removed without the risk of also uprooting the wheat. So, we see that this is a large-scale problem, and in our world today, these weeds not only represent those who openly reject God, but may also include people who regularly attend our churches. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus warns about people who may appear to be part of God’s people on the outside, but on the inside, they were never really Christians. Similarly, there may be people within our congregations who appear religious on the outside, do good works and even claim to be believers, but in their hearts, they have never really accepted Christ. It is only when Jesus returns that all the true people of God, those who have sincerely put their faith in Jesus, will be made known.
A certain hope
Notice in the parable that despite the presence of the weeds, the fate of the wheat is never in doubt. It is certain that the time of the harvest will one day come and as Jesus mentions in verse 43, this will be the time when all of God’s people, the wheat, will be gathered together to share in the glory of his kingdom. Therefore, no matter what troubles or persecution we face from those who oppose God in this life, we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus’ victory over evil has already been decided, and he will come back one day to right all wrongs and remove all evil from God’s eternal kingdom. Despite the opposition that we face now, God will not let us fall but will help us to persevere to the end.
Enduring until the end
When the servants ask the master whether or not they should remove the weeds from the field, he replies that they should wait until the reapers gather them at harvest time. It seems that the master is more concerned about the growth of the wheat. In the same way, God does not expect us to remove all the evil in the world, this will only happen on the final day of judgement. Opposition will always be part of living in a fallen world. Rather, God is more concerned that we focus on serving him faithfully and seek to encourage and build up one another in our faith as we persevere until the end. We don’t need to worry about trying to take God’s judgement into our own hands, he has already planned to carry that out in his own perfect timing.
Spreading the good news
Matthew 13:40-42 gives a warning that there will ultimately be condemnation for those who have rejected and opposed Christ when he returns to judge the world. Therefore, this warning should open our eyes to the urgent need to preach the gospel so that others may hear and be saved. We should be wary that there may be people in our own churches who may profess to be Christians but have not yet fully understood the good news about Jesus or received him through faith. Let’s continue to pray for non-Christians that we know and ask God for the opportunities and strength to tell others about him.