Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. “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?’ “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?’ “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. ‘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.”‘”…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.” And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 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; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. “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. “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
From this parable we learn several things. First, there is an end to this age. The present age that we live in looks back on the coming of the Kingdom through Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, and also looks forward to His return or second coming. One day when this age (where the Gospel or the goodness of the Kingdom of Heaven is preached) comes to an end, God will gather up all those who have believed on Him and entered the kingdom through His completed work on the cross unto Himself.
Those who have actively rejected Him, passively ignored Him, or allowed themselves to be deceived will be gathered up and judged. This is a difficult passage – we read that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Whether you take scripture literally or figuratively, a place with weeping and gnashing of teeth is not good.
Second, there are two kinds of people in this parable: Those in the kingdom and those outside the kingdom. Before we get into the actual parable, we will define the Kingdom of Heaven, define the present reality of the Kingdom, and define the future reality of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Heaven
At the creation of the world/earth, the Kingdom of God was there. Earth was a place that did not yet know sin and God’s Holy presence was unrestricted in mankind as God ruled and reigned on earth. But His kingdom existed even before the creation of the world, and has existed as long as God has existed. The world and all that it contains came into existence in complete harmony under the rule of God.
Then sin entered the world through the disobedience of one man (Romans 5:12). The consequences of sin is death (physical) and separation from our Creator (spiritual death), and sin has continued to unravel the fabric of humanity and all of God’s creation. But God had a redemptive plan that we see revealed throughout scripture:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9
The kingdom of God brings harmony, peace, and unity. God’s redemptive plan is to restore His creation and His Kingdom fully with Him ruling and reigning.
So what is the Kingdom of Heaven? Since God is sovereign (He has all authority), all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere, in a broad sense, wherever God rules is His Kingdom. He chooses when and where and how to exercise His sovereignty for His glory.
But this morning we are looking at a more narrow understanding of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom is the invisible rule of Christ in man’s heart. The Kingdom is the relationship of a King to His subjects: the sovereign rule of Jesus over our lives, the church, and the redemptive plan of the ages. Author and pastor David Platt describes it this way:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is the redemptive rule and reign of God in Christ, it is the renewal of creation by the re-entry of God’s ruling power through Christ’s death and resurrection.” Hearts, relationships, societies, communities all are healed and rewoven to the degree that they come under the control of God and some day a new heaven and earth. -David Platt
The Present Reality of the Kingdom
The king, Jesus, brought His kingdom at His first coming. His Kingdom is here, and His kingdom is advancing. As citizens and ambassadors of His kingdom, the reason we walk this planet is to advance His Kingdom – that is our mission. But to be clear, we do not bring the Kingdom to earth. The Kingdom comes to earth with the King when He returns for a second time. Jesus has already come once as suffering servant, as our savior, as a child but He was still the King and brought the Kingdom. The Pharisees questioned Jesus about the Kingdom, and He responded that the Kingdom of God was right in front of them:
Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:20-21
The Kingdom of God was brought to this world in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Kingdom of God came through a crying baby born in a barn. The King of all creation made Himself vulnerable for the sake of mankind so that His creation could enter His Kingdom.
Wherever Jesus went was his Kingdom. When He cried out, the storm dissipated (Mark 4:39). When He commanded the lame to walk, they walked (Mark 2:11) and the demons screamed in agony and departed in His presence (Mark 5:7). There is no person, no demon, or force of nature that can deny or resist His presence. That is the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom to which we belong, represent, and are empowered with. We see this in Acts 1, forty days after His resurrection when He brought His disciples together in Jerusalem:
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8
The disciples asked if it was time for the Kingdom of Heaven to fully come. Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit, His presence, and a special mission to go and make disciples.
Have you ever wondered what your purpose is? This question is a stirring of God. No one has an identical life or experiences or workplace or family or relationships to you. Your purpose is to represent the King of the Kingdom and be on mission wherever you go. You belong to a different kingdom with a different set of values and principles, and your mission is to advance the kingdom and make disciples to the end of the age:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
We are equipped through the Holy Spirit to carry out this mission as a citizen of God’s Kingdom. Our enemy in this mission is Satan and his demons – they are enemies of the Kingdom. Our hope in this age is the coming Kingdom under the rule and reign of Christ.
Future Reality of the Kingdom
The future reality of the Kingdom is complete realization of the Kingdom: The King is coming back, and His Kingdom will be complete. His Kingdom begins like a small mustard seed, a tiny baby in a barn, and grows from a few disciples into millions of people across cultures over thousands of years and continues to be advanced today. Nothing can stop His Kingdom – it is driven by God’s glory and we will see a complete fulfillment when He returns.
In Mathew we see the beginning of this age with the birth and life of Christ. In the book of Revelation, we see the complete Kingdom in His return:
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond- servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm. Revelation 11:15-19
Christ’s Kingdom is coming and He will rule and reign and judge – this is a picture that goes beyond words. We see another glimpse of the Kingdom in Revelation 21:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
We are in anguish as a people but when Christ rules and reigns and His kingdom comes fully, that anguish will be gone. Today we look back at the original creation and the fall of man, and we see the redemptive work of Christ in bringing His Kingdom to earth. We look forward to His return and the fulfillment of His work by bringing His Kingdom with a new heaven and a new earth. Until that day, we live in this tension of two worlds.
Jesus commands us to seek first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He prayed “Thy kingdom come.” Pray that God’s ruling power and presence would reign supreme on earth as it does in heaven. To seek first the kingdom means to seek the things of the kingdom, the things that please the king, and to seek the king. We are to seek what brings honor and advancement of the kingdom and also His righteousness. Through His righteousness, we are made righteous. Then and only then can we enter His Kingdom.
How do we enter the kingdom?
1. Through repentance and faith – “The time is fulfilled, and the
kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’ (Mark 1:15)
2. Through God’s Forgiveness – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
3. Through New Birth – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”- Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-5)
To enter the kingdom means to follow the King, to simply surrender. He knows your heart as we will see next week in the parable. The gate is narrow and Jesus says, “I am the way, I am the Gate, I am the door.”
There is no way but through Him. Today is the day of salvation to enter in and if you believe, submit to your King. Others here today entered the Kingdom long ago and yet have forgotten the goodness of the King. If you’ve been living like an outsider in the Kingdom, repent not for salvation but for restoration with Jesus.
The answer for both those outside the kingdom and inside the kingdom is the same: Repent and be restored into right relationship with the true King because He will return and the end of this age is coming.