August 06, 2017

Pastor Mark F. Bartels

The First Lesson; 1 Kings 3:5-12

The Second Lesson; Romans 8:28-30

Sermon Text; Matthew 13:24-30

                       Matthew 13:36-43

Matthew, chapter 13, has seven different parables that Jesus tells. That is a lot of parables in one chapter. Last week we looked at what was called, “The Parable of the Sower and the Seed”. Actually, three of the parables Jesus tells in Matthew, chapter 13, deal with the Kingdom of God in our hearts. The other four parables Jesus tells in Matthew, chapter 13, have to do with the Kingdom of God in the world. This happens to be one of those that talks about the Kingdom of God in the world. It is taken from Matthew, chapter 13, verses 24 through 30. Then, the explanation from Jesus is in verses 36 through 43. This is known as “The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat”. Or, if you read it in the King James version it would be “The Tares among the Wheat”.

This is in our Savior's name.

He presented another parable to them: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced heads of grain, the weeds also appeared. The servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?' He said to them, 'An enemy did this.' The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and gather up the weeds?' 'No,' he answered, 'because when you gather up the weeds, you might pull up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the weeds, bind them in bundles, and burn them. Then, gather the wheat into my barn.”” Then Jesus sent the people away and went into the house. His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He answered them, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seeds are the sons of the Kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the Evil One. The enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The reapers are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered up and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will pull out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and those who continue to break the Law. The angels will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

These are your words, Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


If you owned a business, and you had a business rival, and you wanted to undo your business rival, and you weren't a very ethical person, there are some things you could do to undermine your rival. For example, maybe you could hack into their computer system, and get their financials to fall apart. Or, maybe you could get on Social Media, say some really bad things about your rival, and get his company to fall apart.

In Jesus' day it was mainly an agricultural society, and so there was one way you could undo your business rival. If you were a farmer who lived next to another farmer, and you wanted to undo him, what you would do is you would wait until your neighbor planted his Wheat Seeds in the field. Then, at nighttime you would go, and plant something called Zizonia. Zizonia is a seed that looks just like a Wheat Seed. And, when the plant grows, it looks just like a Wheat Plant. It is the same color, same size, same shape, and you can't tell one from the other. And so, the Wheat and the Zizonia grow up together. As they grow, their roots grow together. When they get big enough that the heads finally produce, then all of a sudden, you can tell, “Whoa, there are weeds all over the place! They are all over, spread among the Wheat.”

But then, it is too late. If the farmer wants to pull up the weeds, the weeds have grown so much into the Wheat that he would tear up the Wheat, too. And so, it was a great way to undo his crop. It was kind of like a type of biological warfare, where you could just undo your neighbor.

Jesus tells the Parable of The Weeds among the Wheat. Then, Jesus explains each part of the parable. First of all, this is a parable about how the devil tries to undermine the Kingdom of God, here in this world. Jesus is the One who plants the good seed. Jesus explains the good seeds are the sons of the Kingdom. They are believers. And so, Jesus is the One who plants believers here on this earth. You become a believer through The Word, as the Holy Spirit works in your heart, and causes you to know you are a sinner, you have a Savior, and your sins are all forgiven. Jesus plants what we call His Holy Christian Church. Anyone who believes in Jesus has been planted by Christ.

But then, Jesus says the devil comes. The devil plants Zizonia. He plants these people who look just like Christians. They act just like Christians. He plants them right in the visible Christian Church, so that when you look, you can't tell, “Is that person a believer? Is that person an unbeliever?” It is a type of biological warfare, so to speak, where the devil is going to try to undo the Kingdom of God, by planting into the church unbelievers.

Now, how could unbelievers in the church, undo the church? Well, they could, I suppose, eventually lead you into false doctrine, or false teaching, and lead you away from Jesus. They could lead you away from the central teaching of scripture, and lead you to believe, “Maybe it is not faith in Christ that saves me, but it is my moral behavior that saves me”, and leads you away.

Then the Kingdom could be undone. There are multiple ways that unbelievers in the church could undo the weak believers who are there.

And so, what do we do about that? What do we do about the fact that Jesus told us here, the cold, hard, fact that in the visible church there are believers, but there are also unbelievers. It is the type of biological warfare where the devil is trying to undo God's Kingdom.

The servants came up to the master in the parable, and asked, “What should we do? There are weeds out in the field. Should we pull them up?”

The master said, “No. Don't pull up the weeds, because if you pull up the weeds, you might pull up the wheat as well, and destroy the wheat (or the believers).”

Two things Jesus wants us to really understand, with this parable. Number one, number one is this. You cannot tell by visibly looking at somebody, and watching them, whether or not they are a weed, or wheat. You can't tell whether they are a believer, or an unbeliever. Let me give you an example. Let's imagine we had two young ladies. One is a believer, and one is an unbeliever, but they both say they are believers. You follow them around for a week. They do the exact same things. You find out, on average, they go to church once a month. They both tell you, “Yeah, I know I should be going to church more than that.”
They both go to a party, and they have a little too much to drink at the party. Afterwords they both tell you, “Yeah, I know I should not have done that.”
They both go to work, and at work they start to talk behind the boss's back. Afterwords they both say, “Yes, I know I should not be gossiping like that.”
They both come to church on a Sunday morning. They both stand up, and confess their sins, (just like we did this morning). They both hear their sins are forgiven. They both come up to The Lord's Supper. They both have crosses hanging from their rear view mirrors. But, only one of them, only one of them in her heart, when she confesses her sins, in her heart really understands, “I am a condemned sinner, and I need Jesus.” Only one of them in her heart trusts, “Jesus forgives all of my sins. He forgives me, and that is the only way I am right with God.” And only one of them in her heart says, “With the help of Jesus, I want to live a more godly life.”

Now, can you tell, just by looking at those two women, which one is really the Christian, and which one is not? We can't, because man looks at the outward things, but the LORD looks at the heart.

So, Jesus wants us to be aware,

Christians are not perfect people.

They are not perfect people. Christians have faults, and they sin, just like unbelievers do. But, Christians believe Jesus is their Savior. Their sins are forgiven. And with the help of Jesus, they want to try to live god pleasing lives.

So, number one, we can't look into people's hearts and tell whether or not they are believers. Therefore, Jesus says if you try to figure out who they are, try to figure out who the unbelievers are in the church, you could hurt the believers.

I will give you two instances from history, and then I will talk about how today it can be a problem.

In the late 1400's, early 1500's, in Spain there was something called The Spanish Inquisition. There was this thought that there are some people who just became Christians because it was the safe thing to do. And so, for example, it was the thought that some Jews converted to Christianity, because it was safe for them to do that. Some Muslims converted to Christianity, because it was safe for them to do that.

And so, the church went around, went into people's homes, and said, “We don't think you really are a Christian. We don't think you are a Christian.”

And then, they would start to torture that person, and torture them, and torture them to get them to admit, “I am not a believer”.

It did such damage to the church, trying to identify the unbelievers.

Then, there was a reverse way it was done. There was a man who said, “You know what? Let's start a city. In that city it is only, only, only going to be made up of believers, and that is it. If you want to become a resident of the city, you have to say, 'I am a Christian. I am going to love God. I am going to try to love my neighbor.'”

This happened in Geneva, Switzerland, in the mid 1500's. A man by the name of John Calvin came up with this idea. And so, to become a resident you had to say, “I am a Christian. I am going to try to love God, and love my neighbor. The earthly government we have in this city is just going to take care of physical things like food and clothes, and protect us with military. But, when it comes to moral behavior, the church is going to take care of that, because we are all Christians. So, if there is somebody here in this city who messes up morally, we will take him to the church, and he will go under church discipline. Maybe they will even be excommunicated.”

It sounded like a good plan, but do you know what happened? People began to spy on each other. They would go to the church, and say, “This guy is not acting like a Christian.” “This lady is not acting like a Christian.”

Soon, that city almost consumed itself with people trying to figure out which were the true Christians, and which ones were not. It didn't work.

And so, Jesus says, “Be careful that you don't pull up the weeds, and pull up the wheat with them.”

Today it happens in a different way. Did you know that if you would ask people, “Why did you stop going to church? Why don't you go to church, anymore?”, one of the main reasons people will tell you, “The reason I stopped going to church is this. There are too many hypocrites there.”

Too many hypocrites.

Do you know what that means? That means, “I can tell who the weeds are. I see 'em. I have identified the weeds, and I don't want to be with the weeds. So, instead of pulling the weeds or extracting the weeds, I will just remove myself. I don't want to be with all of those weeds, those hypocrites in the church.”

Who does that hurt? It doesn't hurt the people who are still going to church. It hurts the person who 'identified the weeds', or thought they did, and pulled themselves out of the situation.

Now what? Now, they are not going to church. Now, they are not hearing The Word. Now, they are not going to The Lord's Supper. Now, their soul is not being fed. Now, they are not growing in the faith. And now, the devil's biological warfare has worked, and he is pulling somebody away from the faith, because they tried to identify the weeds that we cannot identify.

Saying I am not going to go to church, because there are hypocrites there is like saying, “I am not going to go the hospital, because there are sick people there”. If I am sick, and yes there are sick people in the hospital, but that is exactly where they should be. That is where they need to be. And, the same with church. This church is made up of 'sick' people, spiritually sick, who need a Savior, who aren't perfect people, who need their sins forgiven. And, we don't want to remove ourselves from a setting where we can receive the mercy, and grace of God, and the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament to strengthen us in our faith.

So, we understand that Jesus tells us this parable because He wants us to understand that in the visible church there are going to be believers, and there are going to be unbelievers.

It is not our job

to try to identify who the unbelievers are in the church.

That is not our job.

Our job is to preach and teach The Word.

If you happen to be, (and there may very well be some 'weeds' here today), a person who claims to be a christian, but we can't tell you are not a Christian. You just come, because Mom and Dad make you come. Or, you just come, because it is this social thing to do. Or, you just come, because that is the habit you have. We are not going to try to pull you out of here. We want you here.

We want you to hear the Word.

We want the Holy Spirit to work through The Word,

so that someday you, too,

may become a believer in Jesus, as your Savior.

But, I also want to say this. There may be people here, right now, Whenever you start to talk about hypocrites, people who claim to be believers but really aren't, sometimes there are some tender hearts sitting in a congregation who begin to wonder to themselves, “What about me? Am I just a hypocrite?” (The word hypocrite means actor.) “Am I just an actor? Am I one of those weeds?”There may be people here, right now like that.

Let me give you an example of somebody that it might happen to. Suppose there is a young guy, who one day on his computer saw some pornography. He is a Christian. He looked at it, and afterward, he thought, “What? How stupid was that? I should not have done that. I am a Christian.”

He repented, saying, “I am sorry.” He knew for Christ's sake, he was forgiven.

He said, “God, with your help I am never going to do that again.”

But, a couple weeks later, he finds himself looking at pornography, again. Afterward, he thinks to himself, “How could I do that? I am a Christian.”

He repents, and says, “Jesus forgive me. Please help me to live a more god-pleasing life.”

A couple weeks later, it happens, again. He starts to think to himself, “What is the matter with me? I thought I was a Christian. I wish I could be like other Christians. I wish I didn't keep looking at this stuff. Jesus, I am sorry. Please forgive me. Please help me change.”

It happens again, a week later. So, he goes in to his pastor and says, “Pastor, I have a problem.”
The pastor asks him, “What is it?”
The young man says, “I don't think I am a Christian, anymore.”
The pastor says, “Tell me why.”
The young man explains, “I keep falling into this sin. I don't seem to be able to stop that behavior. I think I am just a hypocrite. I am just an actor.” And then he says, “Pastor, am I? Am I a Christian, or am I just a hypocrite?”
The pastor pulls out his catechism, and says, “I want you to listen to this. You learned this when you were in Catechism Class. There is a great question in the Catechism. It says, 'How does weak faith show itself to be saving faith?' Listen to this answer. If you could memorize one answer in The Catechism, this would be a great one to memorize. Listen very carefully. 'Even weak faith shows itself to be saving faith by, number one, its hatred of sin. Number two, its desire for grace in Christ, and number three it is love for the brethren, fellow Christians.'
The pastor read that to the young man who came to his office, and then he said, “Weak faith shows itself to be saving faith by its hatred of sin. Do you hate your sin? The good I want to do I don't do. The evil I don't want to do I keep on doing?”

The young man looked at the pastor and said, “Yes, I hate my sin. I wish I was not doing it, anymore.”
The pastor said, “Then it says, 'Weak faith shows itself to be saving faith by desire for grace in Christ.' Do you want your sins forgiven for Jesus' sake?”

The young man said, “There is nothing more than I want is that Jesus forgive me all of my sins.”
The Bible says,

“Lord I do believe.

Help my unbelief.”

Then, the pastor said, “Listen to this, from 1 John, chapter 3, 'We know we passed over from death to life, because we love our brothers (fellow Christians).' The pastor looked at the young man and said, “I heard you say, when you were describing what happened to you, you wished you could be like other Christians. You wish you could stay away from this particular sin.” The pastor then said, “You are not a hypocrite. You are sorry for your sins. You believe in Jesus. You love the brothers. You want to live a god-pleasing life.”

So, there are weeds, and there are wheat in the church, the visible church. God, give us all a hatred of our sin, a desire for grace in Christ, and a love for the brethren. That happens through faithfully using God's Word.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.