Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Wheat and Weeds


Matthew 13:36-43

This parable is one of about seven or so, that were given concerning the Kingdom of God – all in one day. It is different from the Parable of the Sower, for that parable deals only with a good sower and good seed. In this parable we encounter an evil sower with impure seed. This parable explains the co-existence of good and evil in the world. “The storyline of this parable would have resonated in that agrarian culture. Weeds were as great a threat then as today, and every bit as prevalent. The particular weed here is probably what is often known as darnel, a poisonous weed closely related to breaded wheat, and in the early stages of growth hard to distinguish from it. It was a common practice to weed out the darnel as it appeared, but in the parable’s case the weeds have made significant headway; the roots of the darnel have become so entangled that an attempt at weeding would threaten the crop itself (13:29). The surprise of the servants is at theextent of the infestation (13:27)” (The Message of Heaven and Hell, Bruce Milne, p. 113).

Why, Why, And Why?

Often people ask a question like, “If there really is a God, and if this is really God’s world, then why is there so much evil in His world?” Another question might be, “I can’t understand how there could be an all-powerful God and yet at the same time so many people resisting His will?” Or, “If the gospel really is the truth and the power of God unto salvation, why do so few people seem to be believing it?” Jesus is here reminding us that the field (the world) will not always reflect the will of the owner, and that even though He will die for our sins and bring about the kingdom of God, this kingdom is not going to be obtrusive and there will be no cataclysmic disruption in the field. “Life appears in many respects to continue as before. Evil and the reign of Satan do not to this point appear significantly threatened” (Milne, p. 113). Thus the question, “Does the continuing reality of evil undermine the whole New Testament claim that Jesus is reigning as king?” The emphatic answer is, “No”. The field remains God’s field.

The Other Sower: 13:39

“Other voices will be heard, other solutions will be offered, other values will be asserted, and other lifestyles will flourish. The light shines, but it shines in the darkness” (Milne, p. 115). The story reminds us:

  • God is not the cause of the evil that exists in this world – there is an evil sower.
  • Satan is the enemy of both God and mankind.
  • Satan is underhanded; he does not play by the rules.
  • Satan is aggressive with his various messages (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1-3), and he is very vocal.
  • We need to be aggressive with the gospel.
  • Responding to God’s message makes us like wheat – useful and productive (2 Timothy 2:21, 3:17). Responding to the devil’s message means that not only will one will be unproductive as far as good and truth are concerned, he will even be as poisonous and invasive plants that pose great detriment to mankind.
  • Only two options exist: I can either be a noxious weed or wheat. I can either bring people out of sin or cause them to sin (13:41). I am a stepping stone or stumbling block.


“Although the two kinds of plants grow together in the field, it is not impossible to discern the difference (13:27). Even the servants of the owner are perfectly alert to the presence of the foreign growth among the wheat. The meaning of the parable is not that we are to suspend all discrimination and abandon all standards. The seed must continue to be sown and good fruit must be sought after and nourished” (Milne, p. 115). Thus, the story is talking about the final separation, and yet before that final separation there will be lesser separations, such as:

  • The punishment of evildoers by civil government (Romans 13:4).
  • Withdrawing from the ungodly in local congregations (2 Thessalonians 3:14).
  • Exposing evil in our preaching, teaching and conversations (Ephesians 5:11).
  • Exposing false teaching (Titus 1:9-11).

Growing Together: 13:30

Growing together in its way summarizes the whole human story from the dawn of human civilization to the present. The good and the bad, the servants of God and the servants of Satan, the men and women of ideals and values and the men and women who have despised these very things, those who have aspired to the skies and those who have sunk to the depths, and all the multitudes who have found themselves somewhere between, moving along on the highways of history, born, surviving, developing, maturing, aging, dying – ‘growing together’ in the great bundle of human life on planet earth. And so it will go on, through the course of this century, this millennium, and on, for as long as history extends, seemingly endlessly on, ‘until harvest’” (Milne, p. 116).

God’s Call: 13:28

“The decision to harvest the grain is taken by the owner. The servants have their suggestions and ideas, but the call is not theirs. They may feel ready, they can ask, ‘Do you want us to get started?’, but it is not their call. They have to wait until the owner gives the word” (Milne, p. 117). Such a verse should remind us:

  • Man does not have the power or resources to eliminate the evil in the world.
  • On his own, mankind will not bring about a better world.
  • Even powerful governments cannot adequately deal with the evil in this world. Therefore, we should never get discouraged when it seems that massive amounts of effort and money are unable to do such things as stop the trade of illegal drugs, crime, 
  • Neither should we despair to the point to giving up when we find that at times the roots of the weeds have even become entangled in the church, or in our families.

Not Yet

The story has a strong element of hope. The field still belongs to the master, even though it is infested by weeds, and there is a definite solution that is going to work. We are not helpless in the face of evil, for the days of the evil one and those who want to serve him are numbered. Evil is not gaining ground in our world, rather, it is losing time, as each day passes by the harvest is that much nearer. “The kingdom has arrived, but the old order has not yet been swept away. Truly it will be eliminated; the sovereign Lord will not tolerate its opposing, usurping presence forever. But that is not yet. Today the sons of darkness will continue to oppose the sons of light. Today the devil sows his weeds among the crop of the Lord. Today the field is blighted and the harvest obscured. Today we are called to patient waiting, but it is a waiting in anticipation not anxiety... We need not be anxious in the interval, however, for the judgment is sure and it is coming” (Milne, p. 115).

The End is not Natural

Some people, even religious people seem to think that eventually good will just naturally overcome evil in this life, yet that is not what Jesus taught here. The world is filled with evil right up until the end (1 Thessalonians 5:3). “It is an action which does not wait until all the weeds have gone from the field. The whole thrust of this parable is that ‘both grow together’ until the harvest. So it is clearly not a case of the quality of the field improving with the passage of time until all the weeds have died away and a pure harvest is ready to be gathered. For a whole series of reasons, we ought to strive energetically to produce that very crop. But the verdict of this parable is that, despite all the efforts and concerns of the servants, the field will produce a mixed yield to the end. The coming of the harvest will not be determined by the state of the field. So the coming of the Son of Man at the end of history will not be determined by the condition of the world, whether good or evil. The decision lies with God” (Milne, p. 117). Therefore, Jesus will not come sooner if the world seems to become “worse”, and neither will He delay if it seems that the world is improving. One cannot predict the Second Coming (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

The Harvest

  • No man can prevent it.
  • It will be universal.
  • It will be decisive.

“The time of growing is over; the time for producing fine heads of grain for the flour to adorn the owner’s table with life-giving bread has passed; the time for frustrating the good stalks of grain with constricting weeds and their entangling roots is at an end. Nothing remains the same. The scene of the action changes. Prior to this moment, all eyes were on the field; it was the center of everything, here was where it all happened. Now the field is left behind. Everything which was there has been taken away. We have moved beyond the field. We are now either at the fire or at the barn. So the harvest is utterly decisive” (Milne, p. 118).