More Thoughts on the Wheat and the Tares

I appreciate the input and comments I got from everyone about my last post “Challenged by Jesus”.  They definitely helped me come to a greater understanding of the parable and think through what’s exactly at play.

Last night I reread the parable and the explanation from Jesus looking to get two questions answered: 1) What does it mean to uproot? 2) What is the job of the workers?  I thought they were the most relevant questions to ask concerning how Evangelicals respond to heterodox sects of Christianity in the context of this parable.  It turned out I was wrong about those being the best two questions to ask.

I discovered the best question is “Who am I in the parable?”  I had been thinking that I was a “servant” and that the servants had been the ones to plant the field.  But in both the parable and the explanation it is Jesus (the owner) who plants the field.  We never find out who the weed pulling servants are, but I’m pretty confident that they are not the disciples of Christ.  Instead, true followers of Jesus are described as wheat and no explanation of the servants is ever given (perhaps meaning they aren’t important to the teaching of the parable).

Based on something I had read from Alan Hirsch in his book “ReJesus” I had approached this parable with the context of the disciples wanting to stop an exorcist who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus.  That story puts a definite skew on this parable.  But I think this parable is more like the parable of “The Sheep and the Goats” than that story (that other story still has some questions attached to it that need to be answered).

Jesus, in this parable, is not answering the question “what should we do with false disciples?”  Instead he is answering “where did these false disciples come from?” He also explains why he isn’t doing anything about the weeds now and what will happen to them later.  I think the parable is a great answer to “Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?”

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4 thoughts on “More Thoughts on the Wheat and the Tares

  1. Great points, Tim.

    I think the parable goes a long way towards cooling the heels of those who believe they ought do something about those whom they feel are maybe a little less saved than they are.

  2. On interpretation of the parable: I think Jesus is answering a lot of questions and saying a lot of things with the parable.

    To limit the questions you ask is to limit the purpose of the parable, which seems to be to explain the situation rather than to answer a specific question. I also see that reductionist interpretations generally are used to dismiss other conclusions, so I generally hesitate to say that a parable is primarily for purpose X or to answer question Y.

    I am not saying that the parable doesn’t answer the question, “why are there so many hypocrites in the church” even though the answer question seems to be almost obvious, I think the challenge and the more difficult question that Jesus is dealing with is “what do we do about these hypocrites/apostates in the church”.

    I think the parable says a lot about human relationships and the nature of faith and belief within them in relation to the consequences of tearing out the tares with the wheat.

    I think you can also see the “resist not evil” philosophy in the parable as well.

    Also, as to what the tares represent (hypocrites vs. apostates)

    Is hypocrisy as bad as apostasy? Is there a difference in how to oppose these two things?

  3. Tim,

    I think you are right, this parable is showing where the weeds are coming from and where the weeds are going. We always run the risk of over allegorizing Christ’s parables. It is good to remember that the parables had two audiences, the scribes and pharisees (those on the outside) and the disciples of Christ (those on the inside). Parable have to be read in their historical context, if we are looking for something from the parables that could not be understood by either of the 2 intended audiences then we can be assured that we are looking for something that the parable does not teach.

    Thank you for posting the work that you have had to do with these passages. I need to be reminded to slow down and struggle with the Bible sometimes.

  4. It also seems like the judgement is based on what (general) type of fruit is. I think we do a fair bit of assuming when we say what will and won’t give rise to fruit that is acceptable.

    I like your second option of seeing where the workers fit in. As you say, they aren’t there to uproot things, only gather in what is produced. Thus it is another example of positive action being favored.

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