The Parable of the Tares

By David Bragg, Editor, BulletinGold

IMG_0570Among Jesus’ many parables the Gospel writers have preserved for our instruction is the one commonly known as the parable of the tares. After the farmer’s long, tiring day of sowing, with seed bags empty, the fields tilled and full of potential, and his heart overflowing with a sense of satisfaction he reclined for the evening of well-deserved rest. Little did he know that deceitfulness was afoot in the darkness of his unguarded field (Matt. 13:24-25). When the farmer arose from his rest in the morning there was no indication of the mischief that had been perpetrated while he slept.

The “tares” in Jesus’ parable were really weeds, probably the “bearded darnel,” which is difficult to distinguish from wheat in early stages. While scholars disagree on the level of danger the tares pose (poisonous or not), all agree that it was some time before the field hands could recognize the work of their enemy. By then the roots of the wheat and tares would be so entwined that the tares could only be uprooted at great loss of the wheat. Our enemy, Satan, is not only evil, he is industrious. He will use every means at his disposal to sow his seeds of temptation and sin in our lives. This calls for greater diligence in our own lives and clearer instruction to those we can teach about the danger of sin and the great hope Jesus provides. This is the central theme of this month’s BulletinGold.

It is interesting in this parable that Jesus does not blame the sower with negligence, human limitation demands that one takes time to rest (Mark 6:31). The sad reality is that while the sower slept from doing good, Satan seized the moment for evil (Matt. 13:39). “While men slept” Satan worked twice as hard. Knowing this makes the words of the sower on harvest day even more encouraging. He tells his servants, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:30). The enemy, underhanded as he is, will not succeed (Rev. 12:11; 20:10).

The Parable of the Tares is a powerful reminder that the devil shrewdly uses our weaknesses to his advantage. Therefore, the New Testament is filled with admonitions to be vigilant (Rom. 13:11; Rev. 16:15). Sleep we must. But let us look out for each other lest “the enemy” come to sow his seeds in our lives and find all of us fast asleep.


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