The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares


“24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn … 36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 KJV

Jesus explains this parable for us. He, through His servants, sows the good seed. The field is the world. The good seeds are the children of the kingdom of God; but the tares (or darnel) are the children of the devil, the evil one.

Jesus, through His faithful ministers, sows the pure seed of the Gospel in this world and thus produces true believers who trust in Christ for salvation and are members of His eternal kingdom. These are the good seeds, or the wheat.

But in the same field where the Gospel is proclaimed and produces Christians, the devil and his false prophets sow error and false doctrine which produce false Christians. These may appear to be genuine Christians, but they do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ and their fruits or works are unacceptable to the Lord God.

In this world, true believers and false, unbelieving hypocrites continue to dwell side by side until the day of judgment. Then God’s holy angels will separate the true believers from the false.

Those whose religion did not spring up from the good seed of the Gospel will be separated from the true believers, gathered up and cast into hell! But those whose faith comes from the pure Gospel — who despair of their own righteousness and trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and for eternal salvation, who also as a fruit of that faith produce fruit acceptable in God’s sight for Jesus’ sake — will be taken to heaven where they will live with Christ in righteousness and purity forever!

This is a warning to us that, wherever the Gospel is sown and true believers are, the devil will also sow his lies and false doctrine to lead people into a false confidence and hope based on their own works and righteousness or upon some other lie or deception of the evil one. They may appear to be a part of Christ’s church in this world but they are not. In the end, they will be gathered up and cast into the fires of hell!

Only those who hear God’s Word, repent of their sins and trust in Christ and His blood shed upon the cross for all will be gathered up by God’s angels and given eternal life in heaven!

Let us hold fast to Jesus Christ and continue in His saving Word lest we also be misled by the working of the evil one!

Defend Thy truth, O God, and stay this evil generation; and from the error of its way keep Thine own congregation. The wicked everywhere abound and would Thy little flock confound; but Thou art our Salvation. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, #260, Verse 6)

The Confession
I now ask you in the presence of Almighty God, who searcheth the heart: Do you truly acknowledge, confess, and lament that you are by nature sinful, and that by omitting to do good and by doing evil you have in thought, word and deed, grieved and offended your God and Saviour, and thereby justly deserved His condemnation? If this be the sincere confession of your hearts, declare it by saying: Yes.

Answer: Yes.

Do you truly believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that all who believe on His Name receive the forgiveness of sins? Do you, therefore, earnestly desire to be delivered from all your sins, and are you confident that it is the gracious will of your Heavenly Father, for Christ’s Sake, to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness? If so, confess it by saying: Yes.

Answer: Yes.

Is it your earnest purpose, henceforth, to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, so as to hate and forsake all manner of sin, to live as in God’s presence, and to strive daily after holiness of heart and life? If so, answer: Yes.

Answer: Yes.

Let us humbly kneel, and make confession unto God, imploring His forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God, our Heavenly Father, I confess unto Thee that I have grievously sinned against Thee in many ways; not only by outward transgression but also by secret thoughts and desires which I cannot fully understand but which are all known unto Thee. I do earnestly repent, and am heartily sorry for these my offenses, and I beseech Thee of Thy great goodness to have mercy upon me and, for the sake of Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, to forgive my sins and graciously to help my infirmities. Amen.

The Absolution
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and, for the sake of the sufferings, death and resurrection of His dear Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, forgiveth us all our sins. As a minister of the Church of Jesus Christ, and by His authority, I, therefore, declare unto you who do truly repent and believe in Him, the entire forgiveness of all your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

[On the other hand, by the same authority, I declare unto the impenitent and unbelieving, that so long as they continue in their impenitence, God hath not forgiven their sins, and will assuredly visit their iniquities upon them if they turn not from their evil ways and come to true repentance and faith in Christ ere the day of grace be ended.]

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven: Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

The Collect for Peace
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels and all just works do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that by Thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen

The Benediction
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.

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