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Parables of Jesus: The Good and the Bad

Johan Smulders has a . B.A, B.ED and M.A in Education, Theology and Counselling. Works as an evangelist and counsellor.


The Parables of Jesus: The Good and the Bad

We live in a world that has both good and bad in it. Even in every life there are good times and bad times and good behaviour and bad behaviour. A world where only good exists is too good to be true but certainly very appealing in its attractiveness. That however, is not our world. Side by side the good and the bad compete for attention and often one wins out over the other, leaving either a feeling that is pleasing or otherwise the opposite. In two of the parables Jesus specifically deals with this problem and in particular how it should be dealt with in the Kingdom.

Drawing again from the experience of his listeners, Jesus takes examples from farming and fishing to illustrate the points that he is making. Sometimes they can be difficult for us to fully understand and this is again the case here. In the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-430), Jesus illustrates the difficulty that we as humans have of judging what is good and what is bad, and also introduces the fact that Satan is always busy at work trying to destroy the work of the followers of God. In the parable of the dragnet Jesus again illustrates that there are both good and bad people in the Kingdom and that we need to hold on to what is good and discard that which is bad.

As the wheat grows there can be no doubt that the tares or weeds would grow in between the good food-producing wheat plants. There were three ways of dealing with the problem. It was possible to weed out the bad stuff before is grows too big but this is a very difficult task as in the beginning stages they look a lot alike. A second method was to cut off the taller wheat at maturity and then burn what was left. A third method was to reap everything together and then glean the wheat from the weeds.

In the parable of the dragnet (Matthew 13:47-50), Jesus again uses an everyday example and in this case an example from the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Here, as the fishermen bring in the nets, which were weighted on the bottom and buoyant on top, to the shore, the task was then to sort out the good fish from the bad. This was a time consuming but necessary task.

In both these parables Jesus was referring to what happens in the Kingdom. At the end of this section in Matthew, Jesus asked his listeners: “Have you understood all these things?” (Matthew 13:51–NIV –used with permission). Jesus then exhorted the teachers of the law to: “bring out of his storeroom these treasures” (vs.52). While the Kingdom and the church are not synonymous, they do overlap and so these teachings must then be applied to the church which Jesus came to establish: “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

The question that we need to ask and answer is this: Was Jesus talking about so called church discipline? Was he giving his followers in his time and then also us today, the responsibility to weed out/throw out the bad plants/fish? The answer is complicated but in several other parables Jesus teaches that this is something that will happen at Judgement. He also says that on the day of judgement many will claim to be his followers but will be rejected: “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers!” (Matthew 7:21-23; Compare Matthew 15:8,9)

Why then this teaching? There are a couple of important points that we can get from these two parables.

Firstly, the fact is that there is evil in the world and that evil will even infiltrate the kingdom/church. We need to teach the truth and proclaim the treasures that Jesus refers to in Matthew 13:52.

Secondly, only God knows the hearts of people and we, as humans, need to be careful that we do not make false judgements because of our limited knowledge. We need to sow, we need to water, and we need to leave judgement to Him who judges with full knowledge.

Thirdly, it is obvious that while good and evil will always be present we need to be certain to be on the good side personally. God sent Jesus to die for us so that we can have forgiveness of sins. There is a time of judgement coming and we all need to a be certain that we have accepted God’s great love and forgiveness. We also need to live in the way that God requires from his children. At the end of Matthew Jesus sent his disciples out with a simple but important message: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Some of those teachings would surely include the parables of the wheat and tares and also the dragnet.

Reverences: :Scriptures taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, Copyright 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

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