The Parable Of The Darnel And The Wheat
Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also. And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it? He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out? But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it. Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary.
Then He left the throngs and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him saying, Explain to us the parable of the darnel in the field. He answered, He Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the kingdom; the darnel is the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed it is the devil. The harvest is the close and consummation of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the darnel (weeds resembling wheat) is gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of offense [persons by whom others are drawn into error or sin] and all who do iniquity and act wickedly, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there will be weeping and wailing and grinding of teeth. Then will the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God) shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let him who has ears [to hear] be listening, and let him consider and perceive and understand by hearing. - Matthew 13: 24-43
In our third look at the parables in the Gospel of Matthew, we find the Lord speaking of the darnel and the wheat. Darnel is a weed which resembles wheat. It would be exceedingly difficult to remove the darnel from the growing wheat without running the risk of uprooting some wheat in the process. In this parable the Lord uses these two virtually identical plants to make His point. And thankfully, the Lord decided to interpret this parable for us Himself. Here are the basics - the field is the world, the good seed are the children of God's kingdom, the darnel are the children of the evil one, the harvest is the consummation of the age, and the reapers are angels.
Before going any further let me say that I believe this parable is speaking of the church that will be in existence during the seven year period that has come to be known as the tribulation because the Lord speaks of “the consummation of the age.” I also believe that those who accept Christ prior to the beginning of that seven year period will be removed from the Earth sometime prior to its commencement. So, although this parable does not speak directly to us, as always there is wisdom and instruction to be found in the words of our Lord.
The most obvious truth to be found here is that there will be, there are now, and there always have been “darnel mixed with the wheat.” From the inception of the body of Christ there have been those whose sole aim is to pervert that which God has established. From the epistles in the New Testament we can see that believers were constantly being warned about false teachers and false doctrine. We can see this same moral and Scriptural corruption in the body of Christ today. I believe that the corruption we see today will increase and set the foundation for the even greater distortion that will be present during the tribulation or final seven years of this age.
If this ever present distortion of God's Word is a fact, and if there will always be those in the church at large that look and act like Christians but are not, what are we to do? Simply throw up our hands in defeat and crawl under a rock to wait for the end? Never! While the prospect of having to endure the invasion of error into the body of Christ isn't thrilling, we need to continue our pursuit of Christ in our own lives as well as declaring the truth to all who will hear. By knowing God's Word and His Truth we are safeguarding ourselves from deception. By our lives we must prove ourselves to be wheat. We must nurture our roots with God's Word that we would grow strong and stand firm.
In this parable there is also a hint of God's tenderness and mercy for us. Rather than uproot and destroy the darnel immediately, the Lord allows it to grow with the wheat. Why? Because He doesn't want any of His children to be harmed by the uprooting. And just perhaps the children of God can make a difference in the lives of the children of evil.
Jesus goes on to close the parable with the reaping angels. Jesus Himself will send forth His angels to gather out of His kingdom all who cause offense and act wickedly. Once gathered, they will be thrown into the fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (please note that this is not a natural fire, for the people do not die. Also note that the people are suffering bitterly, which will be their lot for eternity.)
Another point that this parable should drive home for us is the fact that we must be bold in our witness of Christ and His salvation. Through God's love that is indwelling us we must bring the freeing truth of Christ to as many as will hear. For whether a person dies without Christ now or if they are gathered at the end of the age and slated for the fire then, the results are the same - an eternity in misery beyond imagination, cut off from God and His love.
Let us shine forth with God's love, pressing on toward the day when we will see our Saviour face to face. Let the peace of God guard your heart and mind against anything that smacks of error and stand firm. Remember, the harvest is coming!