The mothers and babies met again this week for Moms’ Bible Study Fellowship. We had lunch at 12:15 pm, brought in by Aunty Judy and Hazel. Cheryl was saying lunch must have been a healthy fare if both of them are in charge of buying it – indeed, we had fish soup, stir fry French beans, rice and black chai tau kway (fried carrot cake)! Okay, the last bit was not healthy, but sometimes you need a little indulgence to balance all those healthy food. Hee!
This was before lunch when the babies interacted and played together. Halfway through the bible study, it was apparent that Baby E was too hyperactive, that neither could I just carry her in my lap nor let her sit on the table. She was babbling loudly while crawling so fast on the table I could hardly keep my bottom rested on the chair. Thus, Cheryl offered to bring over the floor mat from another room so that Baby E could crawl on it and play with her toys on the floor.
Nonetheless, Baby E has a mind of her own, and would not be constraint by the boundaries of the floor mat. She started crawling out on all sides of the mat, pulled herself to stand using the chairs, etc…
When Baby Asher joined her on the floor mat, Baby E reached out to him with all her enthusiasm worn on her sleeve…
… and that probably overwhelmed Baby Asher! Oops! Sorry Baby A! Baby E didn’t mean to scare you with her loud babbling and eagerness to know you!
As if that was not enough, Baby E also terrified 3 yo Isaac when she saw him entered the room, beaming proudly because of his bright red civil defense cap. Well, she probably wanted to have a taste of it too…
“Mommy! Look at me!” Baby E must have exclaimed! because she reached out her hand to me and uttered, “Mma Ma”!
Despite all these activities going on in the room, and how it was a challenge to stay focused on the study while keeping my eyes peeled for Baby E’s next move, here are the study notes I gathered:
Study Notes on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
This parable reveals a slightly different aspect of the same truth taught in the preceding Parable of the Sower (v 1-23). In this parable, there are 2 sowers, 2 kinds of seed, and 2 harvests: one good, the other bad. The Parable of the Sower depicts 4 kinds of soils, but in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the field, which Jesus says represents the world (verses 24, 38), contains all the soils interspersed over its entirety.
The 2 sowers (verses 24-25)
2 sowers, 2 different character: One good, the other bad. In the Parable of the Sower, the sower stands for all teachers of God’s truth, including Jesus. Here, the good sower is Jesus Himself. He is the “owner” (v 27), and “the son of Man” (v 37). The other sower is called “His enemy”, “an enemy”, “the wicked one”, and “the devil” (verses 25, 28, 38-39). To describe this enemy, Jesus uses the word diabolos: the accuser, deceiver, liar, and betrayer, one who is against all that is true and righteous.
The enemy sowed in a field that was not his while the servants slept. This does not necessarily mean that the servants were not watchful and were thus to blame for the mixed field. The wording implies that it was the normal time for sleep i.e. at night. Satan’s sly nature is revealed in his choice of the darkness for doing his diabolical work. Also, note that he does not bother to sow the wicked among the wicked, but the wicked among the good.
Tares vs Wheat (verses 24-29)
- Wheat – the “good seed”, the children of God, true believers in Christ. There are many parallels we can draw between wheat and the true believers in Christ.
- For the choiceness of it, that being the choicest grain, so they are the chosen of God, and precious, and the excellent in the earth.
- As wheat dies before it rises and springs up; so are the true believers, who die to themselves, are born again and then mature in Christ.
- Like wheat that is pure and white, true believers are sanctioned by the Spirit, washed in the blood of Christ, and justified by His righteousness.
- Like wheat that are worthy because of its substance, fullness, weight, and permanence, so are the true believers who are filled from Christ’s fulness, and with the fulness of God, and fruits of righteousness – remain, and cannot be driven as the chaff is, but continue to live, because Christ their head lives.
- Wheat increase in a gradual manner, so are the true believers who gradually increase in spiritual light, grace, and experience.
- Chaff that adheres to wheat, so the true believers are not without sin and corruption in this life.
- Wheat needs both the flail and the fan, so true believers need chastisements, afflictions, and corrections.
- Tares – “children of the wicked one”, “bad seed” sown by Satan, the enemy and adversary (v 38), men either of bad principles, or of bad lives and conversations whom Satan, by some means or another, gets into churches, and they become members thereof.
Satan’s malicious intention in sowing tares among the wheat is to cause problems and confusion (James 3:16). “Tares” are actually darnel, a seed hardly identifiable from the wheat seed, and immature wheat and darnel look alike. At first they look like wheat (the true believers), have a show of religion, a form of godliness, an appearance of grace, but are destitute of it – they are unfruitful, unprofitable, and of no account, hurtful, and whose end is to be burned.
To try to destroy the darnel would mean destroying much of the wheat, and separating one from the other would be beyond the servants’ abilities. Only when the wheat has matured can the tares be detected. Then the tares are gathered together in bundles in the field and destroyed by fire; while the wheat are gathered into the barn (God’s Kingdom).
Many who are not in the process of conversion resemble those who are. Just like true Christians, they go to church, pray, and read the Bible, but they are only religious hobbyists. Jesus calls them “sons of the wicked one” (v 38), and being tares, they will be destroyed. The tares are not originally from the wicked one, but they develop character according to his strong influence. They are led by him and so are his children (John 8:44).
*It is important that we are not to judge others and take it upon ourselves to uproot unbelievers because the difference between true and false believers is not in our ability to discern. Tares, especially in the early stages of growth, resemble wheat. Likewise, a false believer may resemble a true believer. In Matthew 7:22, Jesus warned that many profess faith but do not know Him. Thus, may we be diligent in examining our own relationship with Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). First John is an excellent test of salvation.
This parable exposes the problem of evil intermingled with good within congregations, just as the same mix confronts nations, communities, and homes. No matter how society tries to legislate or separate lawbreakers from the rest of society, the seeds of sin and crime find a place to grow. God’s church is similarly affected by Satan’s constant attacks. The genuine and the counterfeit wheat are always together in the church.
The servants’ perplexity about the sowing of the tares shows that the presence of sin is often a mystery to people (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10). God cannot be blamed for them because He does not sow evil – Satan does (James 1:13). By this parable, Jesus prophesies that the church of God on earth would be imperfect. The spiritual church has members with the Holy Spirit who are dedicated and loyal, yet have personal defects. It also has within it unconverted people who may recognize the truth but are there only to enjoy association with God’s people. Jesus’ intent is to enlighten and warn the saints of this fact, not to expose the tares at this time (Acts 20:29-32). God will root out the bad seed when the good seed has matured.
“The good seed”, “the wheat” and “the sons of the kingdom” refer to baptized members of God’s church in whom the Holy Spirit dwells—the saints, the elect, the righteous (v 43). In the Parable of the Sower, the seed represents “the word of the kingdom” (v 19), but here, the good seed is the product of that word received, understood, and obeyed. Jesus as the Sower sows only good seed, those who are righteous due to walking worthy of God—living His way of life, and becoming the “children of the kingdom” (1 John 2:6; 2 John 6; 1 Thessalonians 2:10-15).
It is God’s will that Jesus Christ the Redeemer sow His redeemed ones in this world of sin and misery for the purpose of training and testing them to become true witnesses for Him in preparation for the Kingdom. Therefore, He has placed Christians where He wants them. Jesus tells Peter in Luke 22:31 that he was wheat, and as such, he was to be sifted by Satan. All of God’s saints should heed this warning to watch and pray that the field of our heart not be sown with tares by the enemy. God has bought us with a price and given us His Spirit, making us new creations in Him and heirs of His Family and eternal life. He expects us to bear fruit in our corner of the field of this world in which He has sowed us.
I’ll end this blogpost with cheery pictures of our study group’s children. May they see the light of Christ, heed His ways and grow up to be good seeds sown by the good Sower.