There are three other parables found in Matthew 13: the parables of the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven. These three parables, along with the parable of the sower, form one group. They are all related to the vegetable life and to farming. In the first parable the sower sows the seed. In the second parable the tares appear, also growing on the farm. In the third parable, there is a mustard seed growing in the field. In the fourth parable, meal is made from the grains of wheat produced by the field. Therefore, these four parables concern one growth. They are related to one another and should not be separated.
We have seen that God’s intention is to sow Christ into us as life so that He can grow within us. This growth process is the coming of the kingdom. However, Satan, God’s enemy, never sleeps. He is always busy. Once he saw that God’s farm was growing wheat, he came in to sow false seed, the tares (13:24-30). Prior to this, he had already caused considerable damage. First, he had appeared as a bird, snatching away the seed from the wayside. Praise the Lord that some seed was sown into the field. Yet, underneath some of the earth were rocks—the unrenewed mind, emotions, and will. These are Satan-saturated elements in our being. The Satan-saturated mind, will, and emotions are hard rocks beneath the soil. Outwardly, Satan was unable to snatch away the word, but inwardly he held to the mind, emotions, and will, causing them to be huge rocks. Then Satan worked to produce thorns, causing the anxiety of this life, the love for money, and the deceit of riches to choke the growth of Christ. This indicates that Satan, the subtle one, is constantly busy. He snatches away the seed, he hardens people, and he causes thorns to spring up. However, regardless of all the damage that Satan could do, God still gained the victory. There was some good ground which produced wheat.
After this, Satan came in to sow false seed, the tares, into the field. Many years ago I read an article which said that even an expert cannot tell the difference between tares and wheat until the blade appears. In other words, it is only after the fruit appears that anyone can discern between the wheat and the tares. The tares resemble the wheat in every aspect. The difference is clearly evident only after the fruit appears. The genuine wheat brings forth the ears; the tares produce something else, something false. At that time it is easy to tell the difference between tares and wheat. Satan was very subtle to produce the counterfeit, false Christians, and plant them among the genuine Christians to confuse the situation and frustrate the growth. We all must be alert. Satan sowed the tares while men slept, meaning they were not alert. In all the churches we must be alert, making it difficult for Satan to sow the false seed. Satan himself will never sleep. Regardless of how good a church is, he will attempt to sow the false seed, to grow something which closely resembles the real thing. This will choke and frustrate the growth of the real wheat, and confuse the condition of God’s farm. We must be careful. Some people may make a certain suggestion, and this may be a sign that they are tares and not real wheat. When they first appeared, they had the same appearance as everyone else. Even an expert could not discern whether they were genuine or false until the day that they made a certain suggestion. Then some began to realize that they might be tares. In the churches the leading ones must be especially alert not to be cheated by tares. Satan will try to sow tares to cause confusion, frustration, and damage, and to hinder the growth of the real wheat. We must be careful of anyone who suggests something which will frustrate the growth of the wheat. That may be the sign of a tare.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)