All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
(Matthew 13:34-43 ESV)
As we learned in our introduction to Matthew’s gospel, Matthew’s goal was to show how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. We’ve already seen a number of these fulfilled by Jesus thus far in our study. But the fact that Jesus spoke in parables was also a fulfillment of prophecy, as Matthew points out today. This specific prophecy was recorded by Aspah, a prophet, in Psalm 78.
Also in today’s passage Jesus’ explains the parable of the weeds of the field, which we read a couple of days ago. In this parable a farmer sowed wheat in his field but his enemy maliciously sowed darnel in the same field so as to compromise the wheat crop. The farmer did not immediately pull up the darnel because doing so would have uprooted much of the wheat. So he waited until harvest time to separate the two grains.
Jesus’s explanation is pretty clear. The farmer is the Son of Man (a reference to Jesus Himself). The good seed/wheat are Christians. The weeds are those who belong to the devil, who is the enemy. In this world God is raising a family of believers. But Satan tries to harm them through those who are his sons.
As Jesus recently pointed out, if a person is not with Him they are against Him [Matthew 12:30]. All of us are born as sons/daughters of Satan. It is only when we repent and place our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins that we become adopted sons/daughters of God [John 1:12, 8:44; Ephesians 2:1-2].
According to the parable, the harvest is the end of the age. At that time God’s reapers (angels) will gather all law-breakers and causes of sin from His kingdom and will throw them into the fiery furnance (hell).
Interestingly, there was another character mentioned in the parable – the servants – who are not mentioned in the explanation. Those people are Christians. Notice that God tells us that it is His angels – not Christians – who remove sin from the world and that this will not happen until Jesus returns (the end of the age).
This is important because it tells us that it is not a Christian’s responsibility to deal with the sin of others. Our job is to be salt and light to the world. We are to show God’s love to others so that they want to join His family too. Many historic atrocities have occurred because Christians didn’t understand this (e.g. Spanish Inquisition). And, frankly, many problems exist today for the same reason.
Many of us understandably want to punish sin. Even Jesus’ disciples wanted to do this, but Jesus rebuked them [Luke 9:54-55]. Judging sin is not in our job description. That responsibility rests with God and God alone. Until He does, we are to live side-by-side with nonbelievers, demonstrating the love God has for all people.
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