Andrew Fountain - The Parable of the Enemy who sowed Tares


Full sermon notes - The Parable of the Enemy who sowed Tares

  • Jesus taught us to pray: And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Mat 6:13)
  • There IS an evil one, an enemy
  • Today we are going to look at what Jesus himself said about this subject, in parables and other occasions
    • Why am I not going to include later writings?
    • Because there is a development in revelation
    • The foundational teaching is by Jesus, and the rest of the N.T. builds on it
    • When Jesus began preaching the Kingdom of God, we see the conflict with the Kingdom of Satan in it’s starkest form
    • Buy focusing on Jesus, and not flattening the N.T. we see the foundation that the rest of the N.T. builds on
  • Before we look at our parable, even from Jesus’ birth there was a conflict:
    • Matthew 2:16 “When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged.
      He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under,
      according to the time he had learned from the wise men.”
  • As Jesus began to preach the Kingdom of God, the conflict intensified

Matthew 13:24–43

  1. He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field.
  2. But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went away.
  3. When the plants sprouted and bore grain, then the tares also appeared.
  4. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the tares come from?’
  5. He said, ‘An enemy has done this.‘so the servants replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’
  6. But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the tares you may uproot the wheat with them.
  7. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the tares and tie them in bundles to be burned, but then gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”

  1. He gave them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
  2. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the wild birds come and nest in its branches.”
  3. He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.”
  4. Jesus spoke all these things in parables to the crowds; he did not speak to them without a parable.
  5. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet:
    “I will open my mouth in parables,
    I will announce what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

  1. Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares in the field.”
  2. He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.
  3. The field is the world and the good seed are the people of the kingdom. The tares are the people of the evil one,
  4. and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
  5. As the tares are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
  6. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers.
  7. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  8. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears had better listen!

Version: based on NET

  • The Romans passed laws against people doing this kind of thing, so we know it must have been a problem (Snodgrass p.201)


Image source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm

  • Darnel can carry a poisonous fungus that would make the flour inedible
    • Leaf blades are around 2–3mm wide, wheat slightly wider 4–5mm

“Satan Sowing”

Image source: Felicien Rops

  • What is the point?
    • Jesus, you are bringing the kingdom, but there is still evil happening?
    • Today: Why is there evil in the world if there is a God of love?
    • Evil will not ultimately be destroyed until the day of judgement
    • Until then, Satan will try and spoil everything that God is doing
    • Do not be surprised, but be prepared!


  1. What power does the enemy have?
  2. What are his tactics?
  3. Particularly attacks Kingdom work
  4. How do we recognize him?
  5. How do we respond?
  • His main power comes from telling us lies
    • Jesus calls him “the father of lies”
    • He lied to Eve, telling her that God was not a good father and was keeping good things from her

1. What power does the enemy have?

  • “You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
  • “These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: Whenever they hear, immediately Satan comes and snatches the word that was sown in them. (Mark 4:15)
  • Then shouldn’t this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be released from this imprisonment on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16)
  • lies —what kind of lies? Can you give me examples?
    • God has forgotten you, he is not listening to your prayers!
    • You are a loser, you will never amount to anything
    • Nobody loves you
    • Does it sound like an audible voice? —no, it sounds like our own minds speaking
      • This is one of the things that convinced me that God still speaks to us today—Does Satan have more power than God?
  • He loves to cause disunity by lies
    • Several decades ago I was asked to help a church that was split
    • Little things were misunderstood. He said this, but really he meant this...
  • We fight against this by always trying to think the best
    • never attribute motive —you cannot possibly know
  • distract
    • We are easily distracted!
  • sickness (under God’s limitations)
    • I don’t pretend to understand how this works, since we know that God is ultimately sovereign, but this is what the text says.
  • Feeling of being oppressed
    • Whenever I preach on a subject like this it seems to be such a struggle!

2. What are his tactics?

  • preys on our weak points, Mark 8:
  1. But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”
  • Luke 22:
  1. “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat,
  2. but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
  • What are your weak points?
    • It was after Jesus had not eaten for 40 days (“famished”) that Satan came and tempted him to make food
    • Are there particular times of weakness for you?
    • The enemy knows them, so either avoid them, or protect yourself with prayer
  • Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks
    1. Offers the bait and hides the hook
    “Think how great you would feel if you did this” —but what about afterwards
    • Then he says “what a loser you are, to sin like that”

3. Particularly attacks Kingdom work

“Keith Green”

Image source: Last Days Ministries

  • July 28, 1982 Satan somehow clouded his judgement —12 people
  • About to start the very first Newlife Church meetings in our home
    • Target—to get the ground floor fixed up
    • John Hosier (sickness, disunity)
  • Causes division and disunity
    • often by causing misunderstanding
    • John Hosier elders story
  • We need to guard the unity very carefully
    • recognize this kind of attack

3b. Stirs up enemies

  • When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men. (Matt 2:16)
  • Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. (Luke 22:3)
  • The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. (John 13:2)
  • Former Hindu Priest (page 4)
  • Vicious attacks on the church in many places in the work, especially Muslim countries
  • We may get more opposition
  • We are hoping to move the church right into the downtown
    • We will get attacked!
  • How does he often work today in our lives?
  • How do we recognize him?
    • Not every bad thing that happens to us...
    • Sometimes our fault (I was late for work...)
    • There is a general chaos of life
      • Car: nail in the tyre, hole in the muffler, several other things
      • Did Satan put the nail there?
    • Our sin did, ultimately!
  • If it is unusual, or an attack on what we do for the kingdom
    • my vocal chords?
    • sometimes it is the timing

He is a defeated enemy

  1. Then the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!”
  2. So he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (Luke 10)
  • When it was evening, many demon-possessed people were brought to him. He drove out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. (Matt 8:16)
  • Do not fear! God will keep us safe:
  • And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Mat 6:13)
  • I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. (John 17:15)
  • Also see: Mat 12:28–29
    1. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you.
    2. How else can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can thoroughly plunder the house.
    • Luke 11:
    1. But when a stronger man attacks and conquers him, he takes away the first man’s armour on which the man relied and divides up his plunder.

5. How do we respond?

  1. Take courage, he is defeated!
  2. Recognize his lies
  3. Recognize his attempt to cause disunity
  4. Pray!
  5. Don’t fight him alone
  • Pray
  • David & Goliath
    • There is an enemy
    • gospel

Updated on 2013-11-25 by Andrew Fountain