The wheat and the tares


You can’t always recognize the truth about someone by what you see. People are adept at only showing certain things while hiding the things they don’t want revealed. This may be confusing for us, but God is not taken in by the illusion. He sees deep into the soul with perfect clarity and someday the truth will be revealed. Jesus warned of this reality in the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Matthew’s gospel constantly points out the differences between the people in Jesus’ audience. Some antagonists continually tried to discredit His words and His character. Others believed and followed wholeheartedly. But there was another group. These seemed to be part of the loyal followers, but in reality they were frauds.

In the parable of the sower and the seeds some of these people heard Jesus’ words and may have even taken a passing interest. But like seeds falling on rocky soil their joyful reception of the truth withered and died when trouble or persecution came calling. Jesus continued to warn His listeners of this problem and to explain how His kingdom manifests itself in this world.

Continuing with the farming theme, Jesus told the people another parable about weeds. “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field,” He began. “But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted … then the weeds also appeared.”

The man’s farm hands inquired if they should enter the field and pull out all of the damaging weeds. But the farmer declined their offer, stating that in pulling out the weeds the wheat would be in danger of also being uprooted. Let both grow together until harvest, he instructed, then the harvesters can collect the weeds and burn them before gathering the wheat into my barn.

Later in the chapter Jesus explained the meaning of this parable. Just as weeds may blend in with the new growth of a crop, so believers and unbelievers often mingle together in the same circles. There are many who sit next to each other in the church pews each week who have never truly surrendered their lives to the King. They go through all the motions of worship, lifting hands and participating in the emotional fervor of praise songs, but during the week they never think twice about the God they say they worship on Sunday.

Just as someone dressed in scrubs is only a doctor if they have the credentials and a man or woman in a police uniform is only genuine if they wear an authentic badge, so a believer must have an inner life empowered by the Holy Spirit. These are true kingdom citizens.

Jesus, portraying Himself as the farmer, sows the good seed by speaking truth to the “field” of the world. His good seed produces the wheat representative of the true Kingdom citizens, while the weeds sown by the enemy, Satan, are those who never fully commit or even participate in spreading lies that lead to destruction. At the harvest, the end of the age, the truth will be revealed and Satan’s workers, those who cause sin and do evil, will be pulled up and burned in the fire while the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

As in the previous parable, Jesus ended this story with the words, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The warning is still apropos for today. There is much “seed” being sown in our world, but what will it produce? Unlike the workers in Jesus’ parable we must stay awake and aware of the enemy’s schemes. It is not our job to judge others, but we must search our own hearts. Are we only going through the motions of believing, picking and choosing what we like? Or have we fully committed ourselves to the King no matter what?

There’s no fooling the Lord. In the end, the harvest will reveal the truth and separate the wheat from the tares.



Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at

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