24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like that. Some people believe completely in Jesus, and some people do not believe. It is not always easy to know who really trusts Jesus. But one day Jesus will come back to this world. He will separate those who really trust him from the other people. Jesus has very severe words to say about people who do not trust him.
Matthew supplies a list of equivalences so that the disciples (and the reader) can understand the parable, which is really an allegory. The parable concentrates on having patience with the wicked and permitting both good and bad to co-exist until the time of judgment. The explanation of the parable focuses on the doom awaiting the wicked.
The Son of Man sows good seed. The disciples are sent to all nations; the field is the world. Matthew possesses an interest in spreading the message of the kingdom throughout the whole world. He has a particular interest in holding together his community, his church, but he views the mission to the Gentiles as being of equal importance.
The children of the kingdom are the authentic disciples of Jesus. They are the righteous, who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. They behave according to the will of God. Some of these may not belong to the Church.
The weeds are those who belong to the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. For Matthew, all who cause others to sin and all evildoers exist throughout the world—both inside and outside the Church. At harvest time, the end of the age, the angel-harvesters will collect the weeds and burn them.
Matthew reminds the members of his community that the world and the Church are made up of both good and bad in the present. Both will be judged at a later date. Both are called to repentance while there is still time.