Are you troubled by what’s going on in the world? Have you ever struggled with your faith due to bad things that have happened to you or your loved ones? If so, you’ll want to note the message of the Parable of the Weeds.
This is another agricultural parable, and it is also sometimes called the Parable of the Tares. It clearly communicates a truth that is vital for understanding what is going on around us.
Jesus tells the parable in Matthew 13:24-30 and then explains it vv. 36-43. His explanation indicates that this parable is an allegory, since there are multiple points of contact between the narrative and the realities of the kingdom. The Son of Man sows the good seed, which represents the people of the kingdom. Satan sows the weeds, which are his people. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. The parable says that, at the end, Jesus will send his angels to weed out all who do evil and cause sin. These will be thrown into the blazing fire where there will be great agony. The righteous people who remain will shine like the sun in God’s kingdom.
It is vital that we notice this judgment and destruction of evil will take place at the end of the age. In the parable, the owner’s servants asked whether he wanted them to pull up the weeds immediately, in the present. The owner’s answer is no, and his next statement is of paramount importance: “Let both grow together until the harvest.” This is a clear statement that God’s will is to allow both good and evil to grow together until the judgment. At one level, this explains why there is evil in the world today and why bad things continue to happen even to good people. The answer is that it is God’s will for both good and evil to continue in the world until the end of the age.
The teaching about the kingdom elsewhere makes clear that God planned to and did indeed intervene in our world, establish his kingdom and make possible better days of righteousness, peace, joy, and the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was on earth he clearly demonstrated the power and superiority of the kingdom of God over the kingdom of Satan (see post). From these truths we might tend to think that evil should be eradicated or at least that those of us who trust Christ should be spared its devastations. The parable of the weeds shows otherwise. God has not yet decreed that evil be eradicated from our planet. Instead, he decided to let both good and evil grow together until the harvest.
This is a true, rational explanation for the evil we see all around us and often way too close to us. We are not told why God decided to handle it this way, but we are clearly told that this is his decree. I realize this may not be satisfying to us emotionally, especially when evil hits close to home. But it is the truth, and we do well to pray often that God will write this truth deeply on our hearts. If it is written on our hearts in advance of evil interfering with our lives, we may still struggle some, but we may also handle matters much better than if we hold to the mistaken assumption that nothing bad should ever happen to us.
We do well to remember, too, that the One who told this parable was likewise afflicted by the Evil One. Jesus’ suffering was according to “God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23), and he willingly chose to submit to it (John 10:11, 17-18). Still, the sins for which he died and even death itself are both works of the devil. Jesus did not assume he would or should be spared the ravaging desolations of the Evil One’s work in the world. Neither should we.
If matters are difficult here on earth, it does not mean God’s plan is failing or matters are out of control. It is God’s plan for good and evil to grow together on earth during this age.
At the same time, however, the parable also gives us hope. It tells us that at the end of the age, harvest is coming, that is, judgment. At that time God will make everything right. Not only will sin and evil be rooted out and judged, but we who are righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father. The exact meaning of shining like the sun may not be clear, but it seems to be related to the glory we will share after our transformation at the end of the age (Romans 2:7, 10; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Colossians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; cf. Daniel 12:1-3). After that, we will reign with him in glory forever and ever.