Nov. 14, 2010
INTRODUCTION – wrap up of last week – – Two distinctives about this chapter:
1. all about the kingdom of God – more than any other chapter.
2. Introduction of parables – seven in all – all having to do with the kingdom of God; all spoken to the crowds; probably brought confusion and perplexion to the them, which is what Jesus at this point determined they deserved since they were increasingly hard hearted, and did not have ears to hear; but to the disciples – especially as they were able to ask Jesus in private to explain – revelation came of their meaning.
One of the major themes in the book of Matthew is the kingdom of God – referenced 55 x’s – more than other gospels.
Definition of the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven:
1. Comes from the greek word – “basileia” = a rule or authority.
2. The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of Christ in any and every facet of human society.
3. “God has an agenda,…something He wants to accomplish in His way. The Bible calls this agenda God’s kingdom….Throughout the Bible the kingdom of God is His rule, His plan, His program….” Tony Evans
Ex. – the kingdom of God in Los Osos – – wherever and whenever a person or persons submits to the rule of Christ. For instance, the kingdom of God can be in a home. Whenever a person in their bedroom or in any room seeks and submits to Christ, the kingdom or rule or reign of Christ comes, which results in or brings with it righteousness, joy, peace and supernatural power. When that person relates to another person in the family, and both submit to Christ – the kingdom of Christ comes and presides in greater fullness. If one of them does not know or submit to Christ, then the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God clash. But as long as the one submits to Christ, the kingdom of God will still manifest, but just not to the degree if both were submitted.
In a business – the kingdom of God presides or manifests or shows up as much as any employee or combination of employees allows through their moment by moment submission to Christ, which includes their prayers for Christ’s kingdom to come and will be to be done in that place and among those people.
Obviously the more a family or business or civic club or congregation or school embraces and seeks Christ’s rule and reign – – the more they experience His soothing presence or peace, His joy that comes from His presence and rule and control, His righteousness that comes from learning to live life and build relationships His way, and His power to be able to be and do what we could never be and do by our own strength.
With that as an introduction – I want to talk to you today about the 2nd parable of the seven – – the parable of tares among wheat. Let’s read first the parable as Jesus first spoke it to them (vs. 24-30); and then we will read his explanation of this parable to His disciples in response to their question (vs. 36-43)
Jesus is back speaking to the crowds now – we know from vs. 36. The first question we need to ponder is why did Jesus feel this parable was necessary to proclaim to the crowds? We know from the earlier part of the chapter that the primary reason Jesus Christ spoke in parables to the crowds was that they had forfeited the right to receive clear instruction – by their hard hearted responses to Him to this point. For many in the crowds – they had no intention of truly following Jesus Christ; and thus Jesus was totally fine with them going home more confused than ever. But for others, who might really be trying to figure out who He is, and whether He was worth following, He wanted them to know that things are not always as they seem.
By this time in Jesus’s ministry – there were probably some folk who were known to often be present in the crowds that followed Jesus around. But their lives outside of those addresses from Jesus probably showed no transformation or positive effects from having been in His presence. So perhaps – for them – this parable was a merciful explanation that there sometimes is a more sinister reason for why some people are one way when they are in the presence of a godly minister or prophet or teacher, but quite another when they are away from such a gathering. Maybe Jesus wanted earnest struggling critics to know that hypocrites among the people of God are not necessarily a reflection on the church as much as they are a reflection on the enemy of our souls, who wants to get us all pointing fingers at one another, and finding excuses for our disobedience and rebellion.
A second question is: what is Satan’s objective in sowing tares? Well the text does not specifically answer that question. But I think we can surmise that he wants to sow discord, produce suspicion, and especially cause unbelievers and skeptics to have more ammunition to explain away Christianity – and to justify their rebellion and unbelief. Nothing like the old hypocrite excuse.
Some more quick observations:
1. Two sowers at work wherever you see the kingdom of God expanding and taking root in a given city: Jesus sowing good seed that turns into mature wheat or mature disciples. And the devil sowing bad seed/weeds/tares among the wheat. It is just a reality that we must be aware of. Doesn’t mean there will be tares in every congregation. But there could be.
2. The tares will become more evident when the wheat matures or when the church matures. As the members of Christ’s church grow more and more in godliness and holiness and righteousness in our every day lifestyle; those who have no real intention to join with us in these pursuits will become more obvious. (vs. 26)
3. The knee jerk reaction of the saints will be to try to deal with them aggressively (vs. 27,28)
4. Jesus says – no – because while we might accurately identify some bonafide tares, in the process we will inevitably – somewhere along the way – mistake a tare for an immature believer. Instead we are to let Him deal with it at the end of time.
5. The tares are further described in vs. 41 as “stumbling blocks” and those “who commit lawlessness.” People who profess to be believers and who hang out from time to time with groups of believers will be increasingly known for two things:
a. they cause individuals to stumble; and they cause fractions and divisions in groups. Sooner or later they will bring some level of contentiousness and trouble because while they may hang out with believers, and may learn Christanese over time, their real home is the kingdom of darkness; and their real king is Satan, not Jesus.
b. The second thing they are known for is a lifestyle of lawlessness. Now this may not be more blatant things like robbing banks, kidnapping people, murder, rape and those kinds of things. But they will have a lifestyle of things like not obeying traffic laws, not abiding by policies and procedures in their places of work, not paying taxes, nodding their heads in church gatherings with what the leaders are asking the members to abide by, but always thinking inside that they are an exception to those rules or guidelines, and they don’t need to do those things or abide by those things.
6. Their destiny is the horrors (“weeping and gnashing of teeth”) of hell (“furnace of fire”) vs. 42
7. Issue of eschatology – Some godly committed believers believe this is one of several passages that teaches that believers will not be raptured before Christ returns, but rather when Christ returns – His angels will first take out the lost, which of course includes tares, and then He will gather His own unto Himself. Personally I think there is as much merit to that position as to the pre-trib rapture position, but I do not believe it pleases the Lord when we fight over these things, and ignore the bigger issues herein. So let me now speak to those.
Closing Observations: 9 of them
1. Jesus Christ wants us to know as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, under the umbrella of His kingdom there will be tares – pretending to be wheat – – unbelievers pretending to be believers; slaves in the kingdom of darkness – pretending to be disciples of Jesus Christ; And they are planted in our midst by Satan himself. Every disciple needs to know this is going to happen and needs to have Christ’s heart and mind regarding this reality.
2. It will be very difficult at times to know for sure whether someone is a believer or not, which implies that true believers can at times live as if they were unbelievers; and unbelievers can live as if they were believers. Now the more any congregation grows in Christ-likeness and in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the less easy it will be for this to happen. But all congregations or gatherings of believers in a city are at different places in their walk with Christ; and we just need to be careful in how we assess things – – recognizing the ongoing danger of making a wrong judgment.
3. We are not to worry ourselves with trying to figure it all out. It is not our responsibility to discern who is and who isn’t
4. We need to give ourselves to our own growth, and helping those who clearly desire to grow and change; and not giving too much attention to those who for now don’t want to grow and change. The enemy would love for us to waste time focusing on the questionable folk. But Jesus’s priority was His chosen disciples. Ours needs to be the same.
5. We need to lay our lives down to present every man complete in Christ – knowing the awful horrible plight of those who never truly bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Augustine said, “Those who are tares today, may be wheat tomorrow.” We must persevere in prayer and in our efforts to see everyone we touch grow in the fullness of Christ.
6. We believers must put our hope in the great reward that is ours at the coming of our Lord and Savior (vs. 43) That is going to be one glorious day, when sin and death and deception and apostacy and compromise and sickness and everything else associated with the kingdom of darkness is finally brought to a forever end!
7. As Baxter – the great English preacher and writer once said, “We must not misinterpret God’s patience with the ungodly.” He will eventually deal with them in a horrible way. God is patient; but He is as holy and full of wrath against the ungodly as He ever was. Do not buy the co-exist lie that we are all going to live happily together for ever; and that God is somehow turning a blind eye to ungodliness.
8. This is the second of the seven parables that ends with “He who has ears, let him hear.” These are days to strain to hear every word that is coming out of our Lord’s mouth and respond appropriately. The revelation we will need tomorrow depends on how we respond to what He is clearly saying today. Corporate vs. individual
9. If the Lord were to come back today; and His angels gather all the tares and escort them to the horrors of hell; and you are not absolutely confident of how you would stand in such a life and death ordeal – – I want to urge you to cry out to Jesus right now and let Him know you want to be His to your dying day. The Bible says in the book of Romans, “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Now this starts with an initial cry to Him to save you from your sins and make you a child of God; and then it becomes a lifestyle where you cry out to Him throughout the day to help you follow Him and serve Him as He is so worthy to be followed and served.