Tares Among the Wheat
Needful Answers for Seeming Contradictions to Church Purity found in the Parables of Jesus Christ
Section #1: THE MYSTERY – A Look at the Historical Context of the 1st Century
Discovering the Rules of Interpretation
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." – Daniel 7:13-14
THE MYSTERY - A Look at the Historical Context of the 1st Century
1st) The Jews - A blinded people encountering an unexpected Messiah who preached an unidentifiable Kingdom: The Jews were expecting the arrival of the Messiah to result in the restoration of Israel as a sovereign, independent nation, like as it was in the glory days of the Old Covenant. Even the disciples, guided by the same thought, asked the Lord Jesus the question, “Lord wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6)? Jesus Christ’s parabolic arguments were an answer to how the Kingdom would be established, and unexpected by all, Christ was the long-hoped-for Messiah to the 1st century Jews. This Kingdom’s beginning and rise was an unknown mystery, and yet it was prophetically foretold in exhaustive detail, such details like: the Kingdom would come by the Messiah suffering persecution and death on a cross (see Ps. 22:1-22, Isaiah 53), which in turn, in its consummation, would accomplish the birth of a worldwide Kingdom over all nations (Ps. 22:27-31, Isa. 55:5). This King, who was and is an actual human being, would be thus born and raised in the Land of Israel, but at the same time this child was, nevertheless, GOD Himself (Isa. 9:6-7), who also, by the power of His own saving arm (Isa. 63:5, 53:1), would redeem humanity and overcome the grave (Hos. 13:14, Isa. 11:1-9, 1 Cor. 15:51-57).
2nd) The Gentiles – A suddenly, un-blinded people, who became citizens to a crucified King’s Kingdom, whoalso are, mysteriously, being used by Christ for the Kingdom’s beginning and progress, but at the Kingdom’s consummation, a formerly blinded people (the Jews) will be un-blinded: Because the Jews were rejecting their God-sent Davidic King and Messiah, profound and unseen consequences ensued. The Jews rejected their Messiah… thus God rejected them (generally speaking); this was a rejection they assumed to be impossible. Christ continually defended God’s ability and willingness to replace the Jews (partially and temporarily speaking) because of their abominable rebellion, and with the sinfulness of Israel’s sin provoking God thereto, to the surprise of the Jews, God was turning towards the heathen instead! The Jews would have gasped to learn it, “The heathen! The God of Israel loves the heathen?!” Yes, my reader, the God of Israel, in Christ, was choosing, turning towards, and mysteriously establishing His Kingdom with the anti-Israel heathen of the world! My reader, God’s sovereignty determined it, God’s omniscience prophesied it – this great turning point – yes, God was always intending to extend salvation to the Gentile world [Abraham being called, “a father of many nations” –Gen. 17:4-5, 4:17-18]! But also, my reader, and nevertheless, THIS EVENT which vindicated this turning point of God away from Israel and to the Gentile world was, in fact, the moment in time when ISRAEL FELL! It was “through their fall [Israel’s fall] salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Rom. 11:11). Because Christ “came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11), through this, God turned unto and chose the Gentiles, calling them His own (Hos. 2:23, Rom. 10:19-20), and by His irresistible grace they received Christ (Rom. 10:20, 11:25)! Had Christ been received instead of rejected by Israel, God would have never turned to the Gentiles. Speaking of the Gentiles, it was written, “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief [Israel’s unbelief]” (Rom. 11:30). The scriptures declare, “through their fall” and “through their unbelief” (namely Israel), the Gentiles arose and believed! The Gentiles, my reader! The longstanding enemies of God – fallen, unbelieving, and alienated from God for millennia – locked up in the blackness of darkness which is human depravity…unto them, the Gentiles --- Light shined! Christ, the day star of humanity --- rose upon them! They, longstanding in darkness --- rejoiced in His Light!
Because Israel’s fall from God, blindness, and unbelief was the cause for which God turned toward the Gentiles, and this, also, was of such vital relevance to how the Messiah’s Kingdom would eventually become physically established, Christ made this the central topic of His parables. Christ was, in parables, answering the confusion and controversy surrounding His coming Kingdom. Within time (God in the Ways of Man), Christ is parabolically depicted as One sent by God to be Israel’s King and Savior, for God was minded to bless and save His people. Israel, had they received Christ, would have been blessed in Him (Lk. 13:34-35, 19:41-44, 13:6-9, Mk. 11:12-21, Matt. 21:33-46, Lk. 20:13, Isa. 63:8)… but my reader, what happened? The Lord’s good will was spurned! His genuine love was rejected! Israel sinned against God’s goodness and incurred upon herself a terrifying WOE. A people defiant of God’s love and compassion, how awful the memory! This defiance aggravated Heaven’s retributive wrath, and it, being heated sevenfold, weighed upon the heart of their persecuted Master, Jesus Christ. Do you remember the scene? The Lord Jesus Christ, being scorned, mocked, spat upon, beaten, and driven to His crucifixion hill – He perceived the Heavens were drooping to release the anger of God – yea, my reader, while Christ was in the very thrall He prophesied of Jerusalem’s final hour. Oh, consider the awful scene again, my reader! Christ was in the very swarm of biting dogs, the women were weeping as they watched on, THEN CHRIST PROPHESIED!
“And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but WEEP FOR YOURSELVES, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” - Luke 23:27-31 (see also Luke 19:41-44)
The Herald of the Messiah, John the Baptist, cried aloud against the Jews of the 1st century, saying, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matt. 3:10). John the Baptist, defying hypocritical, once-born Judaism to the face, rebuked their false confidences. Such false confidences like: The Jews believed that because they were “the children of the Kingdom” (Matt. 8:12), or in other words, the select persons to whom the Kingdom was promised, to whom it belongs (see how they were acknowledged to possess “the Kingdom of God” in Matt. 21:43). Indeed, God did act in confirmation of this expectation continually, as He said unto them, “All day long I have stretched forth My hands” (Rom. 10:21), and these hands were the outstretched arms of saving love! In consideration of this relational benefit, the unconverted Jews affirmed, “We have Abraham to our father” (Matt. 3:9). In believing this they reckoned that they were beloved of God, and with this reckoning they denied that they, as a planting before the Lord, could be THREATENED with an AXE to the ROOT (Matt. 3:10)! The greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, knew otherwise!
John’s ears were open to hear – he heard of wrath, he cried aloud of “unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12)! He heard that “the children of the Kingdom [the Jews] shall be cast out into outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12), that the Kingdom shall be “taken” from them [the Jews] and “given to a nation [the Gentiles] bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 22:43), that God, in His wrath, would not spare the Israelites just because they are the children of Abraham by natural birth. No, my reader, God will not spare them even though they be the beloved “natural branches” of God’s Tree (Rom. 11:21). Baptist knew, because of the Lord’s “unsearchable” wisdom and judgment (Rom. 11:33), “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt. 3:9) …and so God did! Shockingly, the Gentile world, longstanding in darkness, beheld the shining face of the Savior, Jesus Christ! He became their Savior! Christ turned away from His own people to whom He was sent, and He turned to the Gentiles! Christ turned to all other nations to bring many Gentile-sons to glory! The Gentiles, who were an after-thought of God (by God’s condescension in the ways of man), and yet in another sense, they were ever in the mind of God, destined to be saved, even from everlasting, for “God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32)! Seeing that this is the case, that the brood of heathen men, dead as stones, suddenly became “Abraham’s seed”, “heirs according to the promise” which was first given to the Jews… and now, shockingly, the Gentiles can be rightly called, henceforth and forevermore, “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-29)! This is a great mystery! A “mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Eph. 3:9)!
My reader, because the 1st century Jews were deluded into rejecting their Messiah, and this rejection was, in God’s sovereignty, Christ’s predestinated course of worldwide redemption, God baffled His murderous people! By rejecting and killing their God-sent King – through this! – He rose again and conformed the nations of the world into His Image. Christ, possessing the nations, surrounded His people who thought to be rid of Him, and in the Gentiles, shockingly, Christ’s Kingdom does mysteriously rise in power and population until, eventually, He will make His way back to Jerusalem to be crowned as King! The Jews – being made jealous that God turned to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11) – they shall see Christ enter Jerusalem yet again, and upon His arrival, shouting again, “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord” (Lk. 13:35), and “ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED” (Rom. 11:26)! Even so my reader, Christ prophesied of the Jews: a desolation first… then salvation.
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” – Luke 13:35
My reader, if this is the course by which physical Israel is destined for its final restoration (a restoration of the Kingdom which was promised of old), the Messiah’s enthronement is an unexpected and mysterious Kingdom in its beginning and how it would progress, a mystery “which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). It was, alas, “hid” from their eyes (Lk. 19:42)! And the Gentiles shout: “Alas, and did my Savior bleed, and did the Sovereign die?!” Christ mourned Israel’s blindness to God’s mystery, that because of it – their blindness – He said to Israel: “thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Lk. 19:44). Therefore, we must conclude: the mystery of the Messiah and His Kingdom was revealed to a chosen remnant who were elected to believe, and thus un-blinded. Christ said to them, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them” (Matt. 13:16-17, see also Romans 11:5-7). Beloved readers, Christ revealed these things to His disciples, a “little flock” (Lk. 12:32), while the vast and numerous Israelite nation groped in spiritual blindness, deafness, and confusion of face. Christ preached IN THEIR HEARING, the mysterious beginning and continual rise of His Kingdom, how He would be rejected by the Jews, how this would turn and allow the engraftment of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:7-25), and how that finally, through the Gentiles, a final salvation of physical Israel would consummate the ages – a consummation which, shockingly, would usher the whole world into a regeneration of sinless bliss and paradise! This will be a worldwide experience described as “life from the dead” (Rom. 11:12, 15), where the creation itself will be “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). Hallelujah!
Who can expound such mysteries? To so unlearned a people? In so few sentences? By open air sermons? To an impatient, unbelieving, proud, and self-confident Israel? Through parables, my reader, Christ did. Why parables, you ask? For good reason. Christ used parables to explain the untold “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 13:11) because, by using parables, He hid the meaning of the parables from the damned and revealed it to the elect. These parables would metaphorically and pictorially reveal: (Firstly) how the Kingdom would suddenly begin and rise in power – through the death of One Man, as a mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32), falling into the ground and dying (John 12:23-24). This marks the beginning of the Messiah’s everlasting, unconquerable Kingdom and Throne (Dan. 2:44-45), the throne of David (Isa. 9:6-7, Zech. 14:9, Ps. 72:8-11, 110:1-7, Acts 2:22-36), and this Kingdom, (Secondarily) though it be by the smallest of beginnings, like as a pitiful mustard seed is the smallest of seeds (Matt. 13:31-32) – this Kingdom will one day rise from the earth in which it was buried, and it, surpassing all other trees, will extend its branches into the very heavens above! By interpretation, the Messianic Kingdom will consummate in worldwide sovereignty, thrusting earthly humans upward into heavenly citizenship, calling heaven’s otherworldly powers to come down for earthly regenerations. With its roots extending down into the earth, its branches high into the heavens, it will come to be that, in Christ, heaven is the home of clay-made humanity while they abide on earth, whereabout staggeringly, heaven cometh down to earth and earth up to heaven (Col. 2:20, 3:1-4, Matt. 6:9-10, Heb. 3:1, Rev. 21:2, 22:16-17)! Alas, and did my Savior bleed, and did the Sovereign die?! So that, for me, even for me… I see “a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (Gen. 28:11-12)?! Do you understand? Do you have ears to hear? My reader, the parables of Christ explain the mysterious beginning of Christ’s Kingdom, how that, in its continual rising, it is undetected and unconquerable in progress, to the end that an eventual and unthinkable consummation would fulfill all things. The following two passages below located in the left column (Matthew 13:31-32 & 13:33) are parables that aim to express this unutterable picture, giving clarity to the mystery for those who have ears to hear:
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” -Matthew 13:31-32
“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” -Matthew 13:33
"He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." -Isaiah 27:6
"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious." -Isaiah 11:10
“…all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD” – Num. 14:21
“…and the stone that smote the image became A GREAT MOUNTIAN, and filled the whole earth” – Dan. 2:35
“…let the whole earth be filled with His glory” – Ps. 72:19
“…the LORD shall be King over all the earth”, “…the governor among the nations” – Zech. 14:9, Ps. 22:28
“…the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” – Isa. 11:9, Hab. 2:14
“All nations…shall come and worship before Thee” – Ps. 86:9
Psalm 22:1, 6-31 (Death and Rise Prophesied) ŕ Acts 2:22-36 (Death and Rise Declared) ŕ Zech. 12:10 (Consummation Prophesied) ŕ Rev. 11:15, 15:4 (Consummation Declared)
This is utterly astonishing and staggering! That the Kingdom would come as a dying seed: a seed who is One Man, and He, by the spirit of resurrection (for “it is sown” see 1 Cor. 15:42-44), will be savingly planted within all of redeemed humanity like as a seed is buried under the soil (Matt. 13:8, 23, 1 Cor. 15:35-50), and throughout the centuries of Gentile-reconciliation which precedes the time when God will turn to the Jews for the consummation of the Messiah’s Kingdom, redeemed humanity will live in the same condition that Christ lived while He was in the flesh (“accounted as sheep for the slaughter” – Rom. 8:36). The world sees Him again, Christ’s “Image”, only now it is formed in Christian men of all nations and languages (Rom. 8:29). Christ, in them, appeals to their own national people like as Christ appealed to the Jews, therefore, as Christ suffered…Christians suffer. Rather said, Christ living in Christians will be at conflict with their present age, yet again, suffering at the hands of lost humanity. “Father forgive them” (1 Pet. 2:21, 4:1, 1 Thess. 3:3, Heb. 13:10-16), is still the Christian’s cry, suffering as willing servants before those that want them to die. Like Christ was… so they are, “baptized for the dead” (1 Cor. 15:29). Though redeemed humanity treads the course of suffering and rejection, this awesome seed of the resurrection which is sown within them will grow… its roots reaching forth to the ends of the earth (Rev. 5:9), until suddenly this Tree of the Lord will, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52), cause all the redeemed of humanity, the living and the dead, to be “caught up together” “in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17)! Do you see it, my reader? The seed that is sown will shoot forth from the grounds in which it died! This shooting forth is of an impossible speed, a Divine burst of resurrection power! As a stone cut out of a mountain without hands, it will rise from thence, break in pieces every king and kingdom (Dan. 2, Ps. 2), for it is written, “this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53)! Hallelujah!
My reader, in the midst of this scene, what Hebrews 12:3 called “such contradiction of sinners” (Heb. 12:3), and it, a contradiction against so loving a Man… consider Him. Christ, who was born to be broken for them, to establish an everlasting Kingdom which, staggeringly, was born when He died, and they, thinking to extinguish this Man, a single flame, released Him from the confinements of His earthly body so that He might enflame the world with Himself! Death sent Him to hell, yes, and He got its keys (Hos. 13:14, Isa. 11:1-9, 1 Cor. 15:51-57, Rev. 1:18)! He arose from the dead and returned to earth, and He, presenting Himself in the scarred body in which He died, demonstrated that He was the prophesied King who would absolve the sting of death and overcome the grave, and now, having overcome it, He gathered His disciples to see the glorified body of redeemed humanity which, when His Kingdom is finally established, all humanity will have.
Those He left behind, being eyewitnesses of His glory and baptized in His Spirit, were enflamed with other-worldly courage to preach this Christ, unflinching in the face of death, for they knew the Lord had overcome it! This Christ, then ascending into Heaven, gathered His angelic hosts to send them forth to war. The Jews of Jerusalem shrank in dismay at Christ’s disciples on earth – earthly men, evidently, clothed in heavenly power, outnumbered by earthly humanity but helped by Heaven’s Army – these saints, now supported by Heaven’s army, are Christ-empowered to cry aloud the alarming truth, Heaven’s King has placed rebellious humanity before His imminent invasion, and He, just behind the clouds, is ready to dash the Kings of the earth like a potter’s vessel is broke in pieces. These Christ-empowered heralds of Heaven’s King are His ambassadors, and He, being full of compassion, has sent the world a forewarning. Jesus Christ, the King, commands the white flag of surrender (Lk. 14:31-33). All who cower before the victory of Heaven’s King, they will call upon Him as their Lord (Rom. 10:13). Knowing this, that Christ’s unconquerable army should soon arrive, they are encouraged to escape their inevitable destruction. The King, offering them a priceless redemption, a blood-bought pardon, causes all who surrender to be enveloped in His transcending and omnipresent Person – thus they, left in the world, remain at the hands of the army from which they defected (Satan’s army), and here, bearing witness to the truth, they suffer Christ’s passion once again. These witnesses, awaiting the imminent day of the Lamb’s vengeance (Heb. 10:30-31), do rejoice in the day of salvation. This Man, a single flame, the Jews sought to extinguish from the earth…they unknowingly released Christ from His earthly body like the rending of the Most Holy veil, and He, exiting the confinements in which He was held, filled all things with Himself! The Jews, blood red with His murder, are overshadowed by this Exalted Christ! They should stop and consider, are they able to go to war against this King and win? Will they be able to meet His other-worldly army with any success? While Christ is “a great way off” …oh man! Will you hearken and consider His “conditions of peace” (Lk. 14:31-32)? For when He finally arrives… IT IS FOR WAR!
He, in a moment of time, put off the garments of humanity and arrayed Himself in His Divinity – the Person whose presence they sought to extinguish suddenly became OMNIPRESENT! – and Christ, looking down, seated upon the circle of the earth, has vengeance and redemption burning in His eyes. They killed Christ; they were happy that He was delivered to die… but they will suddenly, in the blink of an eye, turn around and see Him whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10)! They, finding themselves standing in His shadow and looking up, will perceive His Kingdom is above all! Realizing He is this Jesus, the rejected Man, the One they killed and left for dead… they will be baffled with fear. The heavens rolling back as a scroll, even so, the Messiah’s Army is unveiled, and it, like an army of shining stars caught up in the clouds, will be seen in their courses following the Lamb (Matt. 13:43). Arrayed behind Him – the King of kings – they will be seen making themselves ready for the charge. The Lamb, seen at the forefront, will be the Brightest Light of the flaming army which follows. The King-led Host, riding upon the heavens, will cause the earth to melt for fear before the brilliant eyes of Christ. This recognizable Jesus – still marked in scars – they will look upon Him who they pierced (Zech. 12:10)! This One who was, who is, who will have finally come… He will be exalted in the mantle of Divinity! The earth, fleeing away from Christ’s unquenchable wrath, will cry out to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the Throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come: and who shall be able to stand” (Rev. 6:16-17)!? This Jesus who cannot die, returned to the stature in which He always was – seated upon the “Great White Throne”! Oh my reader, do you know Him? “Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (Rom. 20:11) – only now, shockingly, the redeemed of Gentile humanity can be seen standing with Christ and beside Christ, in the glory God gave Him before the foundation of the world (John 17:24)! Christ purchased and won for Himself what He prayed for, saying, “Father, I will that they…be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me” (John 17:24)!