The aim of this devotional study is to consider grace and judgment in the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ‘ ”
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Observations and reflections
In today’s study we shall reflect on two very similar parables (v24-30 and v47-50), the first one having been explained Jesus (36-43).
- The beginning of the first parable tells of good seeds and then bad seeds sown by an enemy. What is Jesus referring to? [hint: the serpent…]
- What explanation does Jesus give for both parables? (v40, v49) [hint “so it will be…”]
- What are the function of the angels given in both parables? (v41, v49)
- What are the lot of the wicked described in both parables? (v42, v50)
- What are the lot of the “wheat” and “good fish”?
- In the first parable there is reference to God’s Kingdom in two instances: the tares are gathered “out of His [God’s] kingdom” (v40), and there is what Jesus calls “Kingdom of my Father [God]”(43) at the time of the judgment, “at the end of this age”.
- What is meant by God’s kingdom today?
- What is meant by God’s kingdom “at the end of this age”, at or after the judgment?
- Is it another kingdom or the same kingdom? [hint: is it the same king…?]
- How will you explain the “kingdom of God is now” and “the kingdom of God is at the end of this age” to someone who asks you? How is the parable of the wheat and tares useful to understand this?
Personal reflection and prayer
- Considering these two parables, how will you explain God’s grace and God’s justice (judgment) to someone?
- The first parable refers to the righteous and the wicked, as well as their lot at the end of this age.
- In your own words, what are the lot of the “righteous” and the “wicked”?
- If the King would to judge today, would he find you “righteous” or “wicked”? Why?
- What makes someone “wicked” or “righteousness” in the eyes of the King? [hint: what did Jesus came to do? See the series on Salvation]
- In light of this, are you fearful or optimistic about the judgment of the King? Pray to God about your anticipation of his judgment. Plainly tell him what you think and feel, and ask him for grace. And pray for your friends and neigbours in light of this coming judgment.