Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds
Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds
24 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’
28 “ ‘An enemy did this!’ he told them.
“ ‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him.
29 “ ‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’ ”
13:24–30 Jesus is apparently speaking to the crowds again (cf. v. 36). Many are no doubt wondering: If the kingdom of heaven has arrived, why has it not triumphed more overtly and visibly? If Jesus is its herald, why is response to him not more uniformly positive? What the parable of the sower described in terms of four categories of soil with the same kind of seed in each, the parable of the wheat and weeds speaks of in terms of two different kinds of seed sown by two different individuals, a farmer and his enemy. At the agricultural level, the story is not very realistic, though such sabotage did occasionally occur. But the meaning, of course, remains at the spiritual level. The weeds (zizania) are more literally darnel, often at first indistinguishable from wheat. Just as the wheat and weeds were often superficially similar in appearance and if sown too close to each other were too intermingled in their root systems to be pulled up separately, so too God’s people are sometimes outwardly hard to distinguish from his enemies. They can be too interconnected with them in society for anyone to try to purify the world from evil without hurting those who are good. Nevertheless, in Jesus’ society many Zealots, and at times even his disciples (cf. Luke 9:54), were often eager for precisely this to happen. Jesus warns them they must wait for the final judgment.
Jesus’ principle here applies in every age to the question of why God allows evil and suffering in the world. His creation can be purged of all evil only through the judgment and re-creation of the universe at the end of the age because evil resides in every person. God’s delay in bringing the end of the world is thus entirely gracious, giving people more opportunity to repent (2 Pet 3:9). Jesus reserves an interpretation of the specific details of the passage for a more private audience with his disciples (on which see under vv. 36–43). But even without that interpretation, one may discern three stages to the story’s plot—the initial obstacles to the kingdom (vv. 27–28a), the inauguration of the kingdom (vv. 28b–30a), and the final consummation of the kingdom (v. 30b). From the actions of the farmer and the fate of the wheat and weeds, one learns that God will permit the righteous and wicked to coexist in this age but that he will eventually separate the wicked, judge them, and destroy them, while gathering the righteous together to be rewarded by enjoying his presence forever.
Jesus Interprets the Wheat and the Weeds
36 Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”
37 He replied: “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are 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 harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. b 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!