Grace allows both tares and wheat to grow
Matthew 13:24-46 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.”
36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
The time period from Christ’s death on the cross until He returns is recognized by many theologians as the age or the dispensation of grace. Ephesians 2:8 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. The salvation of man is fully dependent on the cross of Christ, not the individual’s works of righteousness. 1 Peter 3:18 says: Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. Some take those words, once for all, to suggest that there is now no longer any effect or consequence for sin. They reason that Jesus has already forgiven every sin in advance, so there is no judgment or condemnation for our present sins, because of grace we can live as we please. This presuming on the grace of God, presuming that there is no longer judgment for sin, is contrary to what Jesus teaches in today’s text, in the parable of tares and wheat.
Jesus says: “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It was not Jesus style to preach condemnation. He and His finished work on the cross are the very demonstration of God’s love and grace. In John 3:17 Jesus says: "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” Yet Jesus could not speak anything but truth. In John 12:46-50 Jesus says: “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” Everything Jesus did and everything He spoke was according to the will and the way of the Father. If there was to be no judgment against sin and lawlessness, why would Jesus even speak of it. Even more, if there is no judgment against sin and unrighteousness, why would Jesus have had to go to the cross at all? Surely the loving, compassionate gracious God could have forgiven sin without subjecting His Son to the cruelty of the cross.
The truth is, God did, does and will judge sin. Because of His righteousness and justice there must be a consequence for unrighteousness. We do indeed live in the age of God’s grace. Jesus has paid the price, suffering and dying on the cross for our sins. Jesus and the cross did not eliminate sin nor did the cross redeem sin. Jesus, through the finished work of the cross redeemed sinners, providing forgiveness for sin. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Grace is available for everyone, but it is only received by those who believe in Christ. To believe in Christ is more than to simply acknowledge that He lived as a man. It is to believe that as a demonstration of God’s love, He paid the price for our sins, all sins, on the cross. If we believe that, then we could not respond to His love by presuming on His grace. Rather as 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. In response to the love and grace of God, we love Him. We don’t presume on grace, we thank Him for it. Jesus says this to His disciples: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
Jesus ends the explanation of the tares and wheat saying: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” If there were not to be a judgment against sin Jesus would not speak of it. His grace is not that there is no longer sin or judgment against sin, but that through the finished work of the cross we are judged in Christ, not by our own works. It is His righteousness which shines forth. God never changes. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. In the beginning He judged sin, In the end He will judge sin. Why then would we think that there is no judgment now for sin? Presuming on God’s grace does not assure us of His grace. Rather responding to His love and grace, believing in Him gives us His grace. If we love Jesus in response to the love He had for us on the cross, how could we choose to continue in sin, the very thing which He suffered and died to redeem us from?
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your love and Your grace. Thank You for the finished work of the cross, the demonstration of Your love and the instrument of Your grace to us. Jesus, I believe You paid the price for my sins. In response to Your love and grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit I choose not to presume on Your grace, but to walk in Your grace and Your righteousness. Amen