Jesus has just revealed to His disciples the different kinds of grounds that exist when a farmer sows a seed. He had expressed this by explaining the meaning of the parable; that the heart of the individual represents the varying aspects or mannerisms of the ground (the hard ground, the wayside, the ground with thorns and the good ground) as described in the parable. The various grounds represent the manner in which we give attention to the hearing of God’s Word, having identified that the real seed (not a lookalike) is sown. The problem in the parable was never the seed but the grounds.
Since Jesus lived in an agrarian society, most of His parables were used as metaphors in the area of and around farming, the farmer and the seeds sown. His hearers then, knowing the principles surrounding farming, would be able to understand the message Jesus was passing across to them.
As He concludes the parable of the grounds, He puts forth another parable and says that the Kingdom of God can be compared to the man who went out in the morning to sow (the right seed) in his field, and while his men were asleep, his enemy went and sowed tares among the seed planted by the man and the enemy went away.
Jesus obviously is trying to get a point across again to his hearers, this time not to tell them about the ground but something else which will be explained in this write-up. The Kingdom of God represents the domain of God and the principles upon which things work in His Kingdom. Jesus is the Messiah in this Kingdom, which does not depict the physical but the spiritual. In today’s language, the Kingdom of God resides and exists within the heart of the believer. In plain terms, the Kingdom of God helps us to know and understand how the principles of God apply in today’s world.
The SEED is the Word of God taught. One would need to hear about the real seed from one who understands and is skillful in the teaching of it. Therefore, when we hear any other that is not the Word but sounds like the Word, then we have not heard the Word and cannot assume that we have God, especially in those areas of our lives where we would need the Word of God. Furthermore, there would always be a sound-alike kind of word heard but the seed would always remain the seed (same?). Anything short of this seed is NOT the seed but another seed and therefore the principle of the Kingdom mentioned in this parable cannot be applied, not to talk of the expected results.
While they were sleeping, the man’s enemy went and sowed another seed amongst those that were already sown. The reason he is called an enemy is that he planted a lookalike seed in the same place so that, when the blade (which is the first part of the plant) pops out, it would look exactly the same as that of the original and real seed. To drive home this point, let us assumes that, when rice was first sown, the enemy did not come to plant beans but planted something that looked like rice.
In the agricultural society of that time, many farmers depended on the quality of their crops; an enemy coming to plant means a complete sabotage of the business. The wheat and the tare when they first appear look exactly the same and, as an expert farmer, you would know – if care is not taken in trying to pull out the tares, one would eventually pull out the real wheat, which becomes an exercise in futility, planting the real seed in the first place.
There were no weed killers then and the big question would be “What would a wise and intelligent farmer do at such a precarious time as that?” In the parable, Jesus helped us to understand that, immediately the man and his people woke up, they knew what had been done. In seeking a solution, they came up with taking out the weed but the owner of the farm thought it would be unwise because, in trying to remove the tares, the real seed could also be yanked out, leaving the man with nothing.
The owner of the field told them not to take out the tares and made them realise that he would rather wait until the time of harvest when there would be a complete distinction between the two plants; then they would be able to separate the tares from the wheat. On separation, the weed would be removed from the true plant and burnt while the fruits from the real plant would be saved in the barn. He knew an enemy had carried out this trick.
The SOWER in this parable (remember it is just a parable) is Jesus and the FIELD is the world. Just as there are Christians in the world, there are non-Christians too. The harvest of this kingdom would be the rapture, when Christ comes back for His own, whereupon there would be a separation between the children and non-children of the kingdom. Of course, spelt out in the parable is the destination of both children: the real and the fake children.
The ENEMY in the parable is SATAN, the DEVIL who works on the back of anything and everything done by God by placing false believers and false teachers in the world who will lead and are leading men astray.
We could also look at this parable in this way: the seed is the Word of God properly taught and the enemy is the devil who has infiltrated the body of Christ with false teachings, so much so that it becomes difficult to discern the truth from a lie unless one is discerning enough to decipher the truth from error. We have leaders who speak very well especially when it comes to semantics and the excellence of speech. Paul describes them as smooth talkers but without the real substance of the Word of God. These smooth talkers have led many astray especially from the Kingdom of God; remember, the principle of the real kingdom cannot be applied to these false teachings.
Rather than rooting out the real and the fake from this world, Jesus is patient enough to wait until the time of harvest when He returns. In rooting the fake out, we might hurt the young Christians who are just finding their feet and trying to grow. We are instead instructed to allow the two plants to grow to a stage where we are able to know the difference between the two plants because it would be evident then that something had gone wrong.
We could also look at this parable as the life of the Christian: when we gave our lives to Christ, we became His and still had the Sin nature (as Paul said) in our members. We cannot decide to kill ourselves because that is when the separation comes but Jesus advised that we continually renew our minds until we come to that place where we are able to discern the Word from the worldly system. The enemy, the devil, is constantly working to rebuild the already destroyed structure. The more we try to believe God, the more the devil brings evidence to break down the structure of our belief system and if we are not careful we could fall for his schemes and ways.
The difference between the true and the false believers is not always obvious; the difference between a good teacher of the Word and a fake is not always obvious and the difference between the good and a fake church is not always obvious. Time is the determining factor because the truth will always remain the truth.
Satan knows right well that one devil in the church can do far more than a thousand devils outside her bounds. We may be idle, but the powers of darkness and their agents are busy – busy in working mischief, leading men into one form of error or another, or casting one or other of the nets of infidelity around them. Hell from beneath is stirred at this moment. If there be no revival in the church of God, there is certainly a revival amongst her enemies. While you are sleeping, Satan will be sowing – C H Spurgeon.