Parables of Jesus



Of the final judgment.

Common parabola names:
- The tares
- The weed in wheat.

Summary Join us

The tares

From the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 13, Verses 24-30: 36-43

Another parable explained to them in this way: "The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was asleep his enemy came, he sowed tares among the wheat and left, then the harvest flourished and he bore fruit, and the tares also appeared, and the servants went to the master of the house and said, "Master, have you not sown good seed in your field? Where does the tares come from? And he answered them: An enemy did this, and the servants said to him, "Do you want us then to go and pick it up? No," he replied, "so that it may not happen that by seizing the tares, you will also uproot the wheat with it. Let both grow together." until the harvest and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: First gather the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, while the grain should be placed in my barn".

Then Jesus dismissed the crowd and entered the house; his disciples approached him to tell him: Tell us the parable of the tares in the field. And he replied: He who sows the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world. The good seed is the children of the Kingdom. The tares are the children of the Evil One and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels. As the tares is gathered and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of the world. The Son of man will send his angels, who will gather from his kingdom all the scandals and all those who commit iniquity and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where it will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears, listen!

Parable exegesis

The evangelist Matthew structures Chapter 13 on the parables and of these the parable of the tares, in a particular way, is divided into two parts: the first consists of the exposure made to the crowd, the second of the explanation of the same reserved only to the twelve disciples . Even in the parable of the sower, Jesus had given his disciples the explanation. Matthew seems to tell us that these two parables, of the sower and of the tares, are fundamental, from the moment in which Jesus pauses to give precise explanations to his disciples.

But why does Jesus explain the parables to the disciples and not directly to the whole crowd? First of all it is the disciples who ask Jesus: "Tell us the parable of the tares in the field"; we would expect, however, that the disciples, so close to Jesus and His daily life, would be able to immediately understand the meaning of the teachings of the Master and instead, unexpectedly, they are the ones who go to ask for explanations.

How come no one from the crowd, during the exhibition of the parable, comes forward to ask Jesus to explain himself better, to exemplify what he has just said? Why does Matteo give us this detail? For the same purpose described in Chapter 10 when, called to himself the twelve, Jesus gives them the power to cast out unclean spirits, to heal all sorts of evil, and send the Twelve to preach that the Kingdom of heaven is near: to perform this mission, they must have full knowledge of the Kingdom of heaven, so much so that - always in Chapter 10 - we find for them other precise dispositions of Jesus: do not go among the pagans, do not enter the Samaritan cities, do not get neither gold, nor silver.

We therefore understand the reason why the explanation of the parables was fundamental and indispensable for the Apostles, so that in their turn they would teach the people. But Matthew specifies that the Apostles did not exhort Jesus to give an explanation of all the parables stated (of the mustard seed, of the leaven, of the hidden treasure, of the nets thrown into the sea, etc.), but of these two in particular. it is evident that Matteo attributes to these parables a very important meaning, inherent in the preaching. What are the elements that Matteo wants to highlight? The Apostles must announce the Gospel of Jesus: what must they insist on then?

The announcement of the Kingdom must be based on the certainty of the truth, therefore Jesus says: he who sows the good seed is the Son of man, then he continues: the good seed is the sons of the Kingdom and instead the tares are the children of the evil one. Here too there is an expression to say the least surprising, when he states that the "good seed" is the children of the Kingdom: the good seed is the truth, therefore preaching must have a foundation on this truth; but the truth of God presupposes His knowledge, for this reason those who sow can only be the Son of God.

The field is the world. If the truth is the seed, the seed can grow only if this truth is accepted; and if the truth is accepted, the seed can become a "good seed". The term "good seed" is used with two shades of meaning, slightly different but closely related: in the first part of the parable is the Son of man who sows the good seed, so the "good seed" is the announcement of truth; in the second part the "good seed" is the children of the Kingdom, that is, those who have accepted the truth preached by Jesus. It is evident that whoever accepts the Word of Jesus, consequently becomes a son of the Kingdom. This Kingdom is the Kingdom of God, which in the parable is meant as the Kingdom of Heaven: if you enter this Kingdom then you also become a son of God! And this is the truth that the Apostles are called to announce!

The parable then speaks of weeds: but what is it and above all who has sown it? Or rather, who represents the tares and who is their sower? The Apostles, in their work of evangelization and proclamation of the Kingdom, in addition to the announcement of the truth must be able to make known the danger of the devil and must not be afraid of his diabolical actions. Jesus is therefore directed in his explanation: the enemy is the devil and it is he who sows the tares. The tares represent the reality of the world that hinders the truth, here represented in the action of hindering the growth of the grain, of the "good seed".

And in this regard, the most curious thing about this parable is when the servants go to tell the master: "Master, have you not sown good seed in your field? So where does the tares come from? [...] So you want us to go pick it up? No, replied [the Master], so that it may not happen that, seizing the tares, with it you also uproot the wheat. Let the one and the other grow together until the harvest and at the time of the harvest I will tell the reapers: Take the weed first and tie it in bundles to burn it; put the grain in my barn instead".
(Mt 13,26-30).

This detail is very important, because the Apostles must proclaim the Gospel of God, dealing with the tares, which will try in every way to blur the Word of Jesus and its proclamation. Jesus himself teaches that the tares must not be eradicated, but left to grow until the time of harvest, that is when the time will be ripe for the harvest of the wheat: this means that the preaching must not turn into a conflict, as the truth does not can impose but must be continually affirmed and, when it will be accepted and put into practice, it will be easy to distinguish the "weeds" from the "wheat", which will be the only one to be collected and placed in the barn of the Master, to have the possibility of entering and be part of the Kingdom of God.