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It’s been quite a while since I last talked about the parable of the wheat and the weeds.
I’m sure you remember everything I talked about… right?
Well, we’ll just read the parable one more time anyways.
If you’d like to follow along, please take a moment to find Matthew 13:24.
Our Scripture of focus today is Matthew 13:24-43.
Now, let’s thank God for His Word before we just casually read through it.
(Give thanks to God.)
The last time that I talked about the parable of wheat and the weeds was back in February.
Back then, however many eons ago that was, I talked about why Jesus used parables.
Jesus said that those who want to find the truth will look for it with all their heart, and because they desire the truth with all their heart, then they will find it.
In this parable, though, there’s no need to do that, because Jesus did our homework for us—anyone willing to just read the rest of this chapter will find the answer to the parable starting in verse 36:
The wheat seed represents the sons and daughters of God’s Kingdom—Heaven.
The darnel seed represents the sons and daughters of Satan’s kingdom—the kingdoms of this world.
They live together in this world until the angels gather everyone up, and we all go to be sorted out.
The children of God are saved from the fire while the children of Satan are burned up in the fire.
It’s basically the Gospel.
If you believe Jesus and make the commitment to live with a clear conscience, you will not perish but will be resurrected and live forever.
But there’s still one major question left in this parable to answer:
Where do you fit in this story?
Are you a wheat or a weed?
And how do you know?
You ought to want to know!
Do you want to shine like the sun?
Or do you want to be thrown into the fire?
To start on our way to figuring out which one you are, let’s talk about the difference between wheat and weeds in real life—the real plant, not the metaphor.
When I’m trying to learn something from a parable, I usually try to learn about the real life stuff mentioned in the parable.
The plants, animals, culture, history, etc.
Why focus on real life facts about something briefly mentioned in the parable?
Well, Jesus is using real life things as symbols for His truths.
That’s what a parable is.
Last time I said:
“Parables are chronicles that connect creation to the Creator.”
Parables are stories showing us truths about spiritual things by using truths about physical things.
Physical things that the audience would have already understood.
Whether it’s the sheer glory of the heavens, or how we get our bread:
From physical truths we might discern spiritual truths.
These are physical things that even people of today are familiar with, and they can be easily used to teach us a spiritual truth.
But the parallels between these plants and ourselves doesn’t stop at “some plants are saved while others are thrown away”—it actually gets a lot more interesting.
There are some facts about wheat and darnel that make the parable even more powerful— some facts which were probably common knowledge for the people in Jesus’ time, but that we will have to explore for ourselves.
Let’s talk about wheat.
This is going to be more of a study session here than your typical sermon.
I’ve put hours and hours of research into this over the last few months, because there are some really cool lessons to be learned about wheat and darnel.
So don’t mind if I kind of focus on my notes.
Let’s talk first about wheat.
The word used in my translation is wheat, and the original Greek is pretty clear:
Normally refers to wheat but can also have a general meaning of grain.
It’s most likely referring to the good’ole wheat we know and love today.
Now, the wheat we grow today is actually a little different that the wheat grown 2,000 years ago—it’s more commercialized, producing more usable product with higher concentrations of stuff people like—like gluten, for example, which makes bread springy and chewy (and also makes my face itchy).
But in essence, today’s wheat or yesterday’s wheat, the basic principles are the same.
Wheat is a grass that has been grown for food for thousands of years.
You can make pizza, cereal, sandwiches, cake, all kinds of stuff with it.
You can make such awesome stuff out of wheat, because it produces edible seeds—the seeds are what you eat.
The Romans would:
Beat the wheat up—or run over it with a sled (to separate grain from chaff).
Toss it around a lot (to make that chaff fly away in the wind).
Then make all sorts of foods!
(Here, you can see a picture of the threshing floor where ancient Israelites would beat the wheat up.
This would separate the husk around the grain, which you cannot digest, from the yummy grain itself.)
Wheat is pretty simple, that’s really all the interesting stuff we need to know, and you might have already known that stuff.
But you may not know much about darnel.
So what about the darnel?
Well, the word darnel is an English word, it’s just the word the translators in my Bible used.
The real Greek word is “zizanion.”
ζιζάνιον | zizanion | dziz-an'-ee-on
Literally means “weeds.”
However, some translations choose “tares,” “cockle,” “vetch,” etc.
(Wait, “cockle?” Like… oysters…!? IMAGINE TENDING TO A FIELD FULL OF OYSTERS, HAHA.)
So, what plant was it, really?
There are lots of kinds of weed: dandelions, stickers, thorns, etc.
Well, it’s believed by a lot of scholars that the specific breed of plant here is known as Bearded Darnel also known by its Latin name, Lolium temulentum.
One of the most famous commentaries on this is from John Wesley, who wrote:
“His [the farmer’s] enemy came and sowed darnel—This is very like wheat, and commonly grows among wheat rather than among other grains: but tares or vetches are of the pulse kind, and bear no resemblance to wheat” (Wesley 1818:59)”
I agree that darnel is the most fitting weed for this parable, and I believe that you’ll understand why as we explore what darnel is.
It’s actually not a weed as you might think of a weed, but rather a type of ryegrass that you can eat.
However, it’s been slowly eradicated over the last few centuries—in fact, it’s classified as “locally extinct” in several countries with highly developed agriculture, such as the UK.
It’s been treated this way on purpose, because you really don’t want it growing in your wheat field—which is why it’s considered a weed.
Darnel is poisonous!
It has a "mutualistic” relationship with a poisonous fungus.
It’s still debated today, believe it or not, the exact fungus and its classification, but it’s not debated that if you eat it, you will start to get dizzy, nauseous, and get tingly fingers and toes.
If you eat enough of it, you can go blind, suffer from hallucinations or psychosis, and you can even die.
This disease is called Ergotism; it has been known in one form or another for thousands of years.
It was also once known as “St.
Sounds horrible, right?
But don’t worry, because you’d have to eat a lot of this poisonous fungus.
Most of the time you’d just feel dizzy and lay down for a while if you accidentally ate some bread with darnel mixed in.
You see, only a tiny amount typically grows in the seeds of darnel.
In the picture you see here, this is considered a severe case of infection.
It can get a lot worse than what you see here, but not without serious negligence or incompetence.
So typically, animals suffering from eating darnel won’t just fall over and die, they’ll simply get sicker and sicker over the course of several weeks until they are moved away from the infected field.
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