Matt. 13:24-30 WHEAT OR TARES?
Intro: In this chapter, Jesus gives no less than 8 parables. In these "earthly
stories with heavenly meanings" Jesus speaks about God's plan of
salvation, the work of Satan, the fickle nature of the human heart and the
greatness of the kingdom of heaven. After Jesus had finished telling the
first four parables, the disciples came to Him to ask Him a question. Notice
verse 36. They didn't ask about the sower, the soils or the seed; they didn't
ask about the mustard seed or the leaven. When they asked Jesus to
explain a parable, they asked Him to explain the one that is the focus of our
attention this morning; the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Why did
they choose this one over al the others? Well, the Bible doesn't say for
sure, but I am going to venture a guess. My guess is that this parable
contained some element or the other that troubled these 12 men. And, I
have to honest and tell you ,some of the elements of this parable bother me!
By way of introduction, let's examine this parable using Christ's own
explanation of it and notice some reasons why this parable, of all the eight
He told that day, caught the attention of the disciples.
Ill. The Context. A farmer plants a wheat field. He uses good seed
and plants the crop expecting a good harvest. However, while he and his
servants slept, his enemy entered his field and planted tares among the
wheat. What are "tares"? Basically, they are weeds that go by the name
"Bearded Darnel". In the early stages of its development, it looks exactly
like wheat. It is only when the plant has matured and the kernels have form
in the head of the genuine wheat plant that the 2 plants can told one from
the other. The bottom line is this: The wheat has fruit in its head, while the
head of the tares is filled with little black seeds. So, the field looks good, the
farmer is getting excited about harvesting a bumper crop. It seems that
there is more wheat growing than he expected, (Ill. the word "among" verse
25). However, as the harvest grew nearer, it became apparent that there
were tares among the wheat. The servants discover the tares and come in
to tell the master about the problem. You see, they were able to tell the
difference because as the wheat develops, and the kernels grow inside the
head of the wheat plant, the weight of the kernels causes the wheat stalk to
bend, making the head appear to be bowing toward the earth. The tares,
on the other hand, have light heads and they continue to stand straight and
tall! The servants see the problem and offer to pull up the tares, but the
master, knowing that the roots of the tares have intertwined with those of the
wheat, forbids them. He knows that if the tares are pulled up, that much of
the wheat will be uprooted along with them. His counsel is to let them grow
together until the harvest, then he will send in the reapers to gather the tares
first and bind them to be burned. Then the wheat will be gathered and
placed in his barns.
In explaining this parable, Jesus gives His disciples, and us, the
identities of those involved in this story. The sower os Christ. The good
seed is the Gospel of grace. The one who sowed tares is the devil. The
wheat are those who are saved. The tares are those who are unsaved, but
have the appearance of salvation. The tares are those in the church who
look saved, act saved, sound saved, but who are in truth deceived about
their salvation. The tares are those who expect to go to heaven when they
die, but will, in fact, go to hell! You see, just like tares, lost sinners, even
those who act saved, are good for one thing and one thing only, and that is
to be burned.
I am almost 100% sure that I am preaching to some today who are
tares. Now, you think you are saved. You hope to are saved. You know
the lingo of the church, you look saved and act as saved as anyone around
you, but you have never really been born again.
I have just one objective in preaching this message, and that is to
get each of you to do what the Apostle Paul commanded the Corinthians to
do, 2 Cor. 13:5, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove
your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ
is in you, except ye be reprobates?", and to do what the Apostle Peter
told his readers to do in 2 Peter 1:10, "Wherefore the rather, brethren,
give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these
things, ye shall never fall:" The question may come this morning,
"Preacher, why are you preaching this message to us?" The answer is: I
don't want you to go through life being deceived about your salvation and
ending up in hell! I want you to be sure that you are saved by the grace of
Are you wheat? Or, are you tares? Someone might say, "Preacher,
we're all saved today! There's no need for a message like this!" Friend, you
don't know that! You say, "I know that my Mama is saved!" No you don't!
"I know my Daddy is saved!" No you don't! "Well, I know my kids are
saved!" No you don't! The truth is, you don't know about anyone but
yourself, and you may even be wrong about that! Think about this, there are
over 200 million Americans who are church members. If they are all saved,
then why is there crime, abortion, drinking, drugs, sexual immorality and
hellish living in our society? If they are all saved, then why do young people
who claim to be saved have premarital sex at the same rate as the world?
The truth of the matter is that people often think that they are wheat when
they are in fact tares. Allow me to share 3 brief thoughts with you that tell
what the wheat and the tares have in common, but which also point out what
makes them so different.
While I preach this message, I beg you not to tune me out. Please
let the Lord speak to your heart today. If you are saved, this message won't
hurt you, but if you are lost, it could be the turning point of your life. Let God
speak to you today.
I. V. 24-25 BOTH WERE PLANTED TOGETHER
Both the wheat and the tares shared the common experience of having
been planted. The difference in the experience is revealed in 2 very
A. The Character Of The Seed - Obviously, the wheat seed produced
wheat while the tare seed produced tares. On a spiritual level, the
"seed" is that thing that we have placed our faith in. For the genuine
believer, the "seed" is the Gospel of grace. The truly born again
person is trusting Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. The tares, on
the other hand, may be trusting in any number of emotional, spiritual
or physical experiences for their salvation. It all comes down to where
you have placed you faith. What are you trusting in for your
(Ill. There may be someone who says, "Preacher, my Mama assures
me that when I was little, I trusted Jesus." Friend, your Mama cannot
assure you of your salvation! You had better not depend on the
assurances of others when it comes to your eternal destiny. Another
might say, "it's all kind of fuzzy, and I don't remember much about it,
but everyone tells me that I have been saved." Folks, we need to
realize that Hell will be filled with people who are basing their salvation
on some "fuzzy" experience they had when they were a child, or some
emotional experience during some revival or good service. What we
need to understand is that salvation only comes to a heart that has
been convicted of sin and after genuine repentance has taken place.
John 6:44 tells us that it is impossible to be saved until the sinner has
been drawn to God. My friends, if you have ever been under
conviction, you will never forget it. There will be nothing "fuzzy" about
The question that must be answered today is this, "Where is your
faith?" On what do you base your hope of Heaven? It must be in the
Gospel, that is, in the death and resurrection of Christ's atoning work
at Calvary, or your faith is in vain!
(Ill. A flu shot. If you have had one, then you have been injected with
a "dead" virus. The doctor gave you this to prevent you from getting
the real thing. In a spiritual sense, many church members have been
inoculated with a dead religious virus that will prevent them from
being saved. They have had some kind of experience and they have
been vaccinated against Heaven as a result.)
Be sure your faith is in the right One!
B. The Character Of The Sower - The good seed was sowed by the
owner of the field, the tares were sown by his enemy. Why did the
enemy do this? Obviously it was in an effort to ruin the crop and
ultimately, it was an attack upon the farmer.
(Ill. Satan is in the business of sowing tares among the Lord's wheat.
Why? Well, he knows that if he can place the enough of the artificial
among the genuine, then he can devastate the entire crop. Satan is
in the business of undoing all that the Lord is doing! If he can fill the
church with lost church members, then he can fill hell with a multitude
of deceived people. If he can mix enough goats in among the sheep,
then he can disrupt the harmony and the blessedness of the church.
(Ill. Whenever there is church trouble, you can almost bank on this
truth: there is a lost person involved somewhere.) Satan knows that
enough lost people in the church will give the church a bad name.
Why? Because the lost can only imitate the saved for so long, then
their true nature, like that of the tares will come out!
(Ill. What I am trying to say today is that you do not need to base your hope
of Heaven on some experience or the other. You need to be sure beyond
any shadow of a doubt that you have truly trusted Jesus Christ and Him
alone for your salvation.)
I. Both Were Planted Together
II. v. 26-30a BOTH PROGRESSED TOGETHER
A. There Was All The Activity Of Wheat - Now this is interesting, both
the wheat and the tares grew. As the wheat grew, so the tares grew
alongside them. They did everything the wheat did and they looked
good doing it!
(Ill. I think it is pretty obvious that saved people grow in the Lord. If
you stay in church, stay in the Bible and stay in prayer, then you are
going to grow and prosper in the things of God. However, did you
know that it is possible for the lost church member to grow n the
things of the Lord also? Oh yes! Take the Bible for instance. It is a
spiritual Book! That is, it takes the right kind of spirit to understand
the deep truths of the Bible, 1 Cor 2:14, "But the natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are
foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they
are spiritually discerned." Now, imagine a lost person who gets
deceived into thinking he or she is saved. They sit under preaching
where the truths of the Bible are explained and made clear. That lost
person can certainly understand the Bible. They can memorize it and
know the Bible stories. They can possess all the activities of the
genuine believer. Tares in the church sing in the choir, they serve as
Deacons and Sunday school teachers, they attend faithfully and come
to prayer meeting. They even stand in the pulpit and preach the Word
of God. But, just because they have all the activity of the wheat, that
does not mean that they are real.)
B. There Was All The Appearance Of Wheat - Not only do the tares
grow alongside the wheat, but they also look just like the wheat. Until
they have matured completely, they are impossible to tell one from
the other. If you had wheat in one hand and tares in the other and
held them both before your eyes, you would not be able to tells them
(Ill. That's the way things are in the church. We cannot tell the
difference between the genuine and the artificial. The tares in the
church dress right, they talk right, they walk right, they give every
appearance of being saved. If you examined a real Christian and a
tare together, you could not tell them apart.)
(Ill. That is why we must never be guilty of telling someone that they
are saved. Parents should never tell their children that they are
saved! Spouses must never tell the other that they are saved! The
fact is, you just don't know, unless you happen to be the Holy Spirit,
and I don't think you are!)
C. There Was None Of The Abundance Of Wheat - So, the tares act
like wheat and they look like wheat, but this is where the similarities
end. One thing the tare cannot produce if fruit. If you were to open
the head of a wheat plant, you would find it filled with wheat kernels.
If you opened the head of the tare, you would find it filled with tiny
black seeds. One thing the tare could never produce was lasting fruit.
(Ill. So it is with tares in the church. They give all the external
appearances of being the real deal. They look right, act right, talk
right and walk right, but when you get right down to it, there is no fruit
in their life. What do we mean by fruit? The tares will lack the things
that make the genuine believer so special. They will lack the fruit of
the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23. They may be able to counterfeit it for a while,
but eventually, their true nature will be seen, Gal. 5:19-21. Friend, if
you are a tare, you might give all the external appearances of being
a Christian, but don't let what you look like and the things that you do
be the basis of your assurance. Be sure you faith is in Jesus Christ
and in Him alone!)
(Ill. It is interesting to note the response of the farmer when he was asked
about the removal of the tares. His counsel was to allow them both to grow
together until the harvest. Why? Because the roots of the tares would
intertwine with those of the wheat and if the tares were pulled out, then
some of the wheat would be damaged also. The picture here is this: You
and I cannot really tell the difference between the genuine and the artificial!
If we set ourselves up as judges and start trying to weed out those we think
may be tares, we will certainly pull up some of the wheat as well. Judging
between the real and the false is God's job and it must remain that way! All
we see is the outward appearance, but God is able to look upon the heart,
1 Sam. 16:7, "But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his
countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused
him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the
outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." Again, let me
caution you against playing the Holy Spirit in the lives of those around you.
You do not know who is saved or who is lost. You might even be fooled
I. Both Were Planted Together
II. Both Progressed Together
III. V. 30b BOTH WERE PROCESSED TOGETHER
Eventually the day of harvest arrived. The reapers were sent into the field
to gather the tares first, and then the wheat. How could they tell the
difference now? It is easy at this stage, because as the wheat matures, the
head becomes filled with kernels and the weight of the kernels causes the
stalk of the wheat plant to bend toward the ground. The seeds in the head
of the tare are light. This allows the tare to stand tall. (Ill. The picture here
is plain and clear. As a genuine believer grows in the Lord he tends to
become more humble before the presence of God. The tare, on the other
hand, will stand in his pride and go to hell clinging tightly to his false beliefs
and foolishness.) When harvest time came, they were both gathered, but
they had vastly different ends.
A. The Tares Were Burned - These plants were bound together,
allowed to dry and were used much like kindling. They were fit for
nothing but to be burned. If the tares were accidentally eaten, they
caused nausea and dizziness.
B. The Wheat Was Barned - The wheat was gathered and taken into
the barn. Here it would be processed for human consumption and
maybe even sold for a tidy profit by the farmer. He kept the wheat,
but had no use for the tares!
(Ill. The implications here are very clear! When this life has run its course,
there are only 2 possible destinations for the human soul. Every person
who lives and dies as a tare will find themselves cast into the fires of Hell,
to be eternally separated from the presence of God, 2 Thes. 1:8-9; Psa.
9:17. The genuine believer, on the other hand, can look forward to going
the Heaven to be gathered into the Lord's House in Heaven, John 14:1-3.
The question is, which will it be for you? It all depends on whether you are
a tare or you are wheat. Friend, examine yourself carefully this morning.
Do not allow yourself to be deceived right into Hell. If your faith is anywhere
else but in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are a tare and you need to be
Conc: As we try to bring all of these thoughts together, I would like to close
with something of a warning to you. I want to ask you this question: How are
tares made? Where do they come from? How do they get into the church?
Well, it is the work of Satan, but there are some things that you need to
beware of as you walk through life.
1. Beware Of Good Works - It is easy to substitute good works for
salvation. Often, the tares are not the worst ones we can think of, they
are the best. They are busy and active in the church, but they are lost
nonetheless. Don't let a seat in the choir, a job in the church, or
something good you have done send you to Hell!
2. Beware Of Good Beliefs - There is a real danger in coming to a church
like this one. The danger is that we tell you the truth and that so much
truth is preached and taught here that it is easy to learn the doctrines
and to believe the right things, while never actually believing in the right
Person! You see, you can believe the Bible and every word in it, and still
go to Hell. You don't believe me? Name me a verse that the devil
doesn't believe, James 2:19. He believes it all, and even trembles at it,
but he will never be saved. You can believe it and go to Hell! It won't
make a difference in your life until you bow before the Lord in repentance
for your sins and receive the atoning death of Jesus as your only hope
of salvation. You can believe in the blood, the resurrection, the virgin
birth and every other fundamental doctrine of the faith and still die lost.
They cannot help you until you come to Jesus as a lost sinner and repent
of your sins. Some of you need to do that this morning! You have grown
up under sound Bible preaching, but you have never been born again.
You have never been brought under Holy Ghost conviction and repented
of your sins. Oh, you belief right, but you have never acted on those
beliefs and been saved. Don't let good doctrine send you to Hell!
3. Beware Of Good People - There are people all around you that wouldn't
hurt you for all the money in the world, but who would send you to Hell
without even realizing it. My own grandmother almost did it to me. Don't
ever let the words and assurances of another serve as the foundation for
your salvation! Well meaning people can send you to Hell by trying to
assure you that you are right with God.
4. Beware Of Good Feelings - Sometimes we have emotional services
around here. There are some pretty intense feelings during those
services. It is easy to feel the emotion and maybe cry a little and even
give a testimony and tell about that time when you were afraid and went
to the altar, or when you had some experience or the other. You just
need to know that those emotional feelings cannot save your soul! I like
the good feelings, but I am not counting on them to get me to Heaven!
I am saved whether I feel like it or not because I am trusting Jesus Christ
for my salvation. What about you?
God has spoken to some of your hearts this morning. You say, "Preacher,
the devil is trying to make me doubt my salvation this morning." I just want
to say, I doubt it! There are times when He may do that. When you are
genuinely saved and trying to serve the Lord, he may come to you and tell
you that you aren't saved and cannot serve the Lord in an effort to defeat
you. But, in a service like this, the devil would be cutting his own throat to
tell you that you were lost. If you were and you went to the altar and got
saved, he would lose you to God and he doesn't want that. If someone is
speaking to your heart and telling you that you are a tare and that you are
lost, it's the Holy Spirit. He is calling you to come and get it settled today.
Friend, if He is calling you right now, please let nothing or no one stand in
your way. Get to this altar and get in nailed down right now. Don't let pride
or what others might think about you to hold you back. Don't let you position
in the church stop you. If God is calling come to Him today. If there is the
slightest twinge of doubt in your heart, get to the altar, get to God and get it
settled right now and forever. Others have done it in the past, today, it is
your time. You come and honor the call of the Lord in your heart. Allow Him
to transform you from a tare into the real deal right now.