Jesus knew all about the problem of weeds and he used them to illustrate an important spiritual truth. This parable is based on the devious practice of sabotaging an enemy’s field by scattering bad seeds among a newly planted crop.
The weed in this case, also known as tares, is a plant that in its early stages of growth is indistinguishable from wheat. Only as it begins to mature is it betrayed by a grayish coloring. By then, however, the roots of the two plants have intertwined, so that it’s too late to pull the weeds without also uprooting the grain. The only recourse is to wait until the harvest, when the wheat can be safely sorted from the weeds.
Jesus plants good seed in the world, which He says are the sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God. The weeds, in contrast are the work of the devil, who is intent on undermining God’s good work.
“Let them both grow together until the harvest,” Jesus teaches us. That’s the key insight to unlocking this parable. The world will always be a place of good and evil, where the kingdom of God grows right alongside sin and evil.
This parable should teach us a greater measure of humility and tolerance. We aren’t meant, nor are we able, to “fix” the world by our own devices, whether through an ideology or even our religious convictions. The world will always have its weeds. What God asks of us is to be faithful to the light we’ve been shown; in the words of 2 Peter 3:18, “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If we let that be our focus, God will take care of the harvest.