Perhaps, an obvious and explicit application comes to mind when we read Matthew 13. The application in question relates closely to the imagery of “the man buying the field” or “the merchant seeking fine pearls.” Essentially, once we understand the worth of the King and the kingdom, we should be willing to do anything to make sure we are not living a life outside the kingdom or the presence of the King. As valid of an application as this one is, I want to consider one that is much less obvious and deals with the subject of preaching. Namely, how does what Jesus said about the happenings of the kingdom affect the work of His followers? Stated in the positive, the nature of the kingdom itself and the work of its King must drive our work. Our homiletic cannot go unaffected by the reality of the kingdom. Consider with me five implications that should be true of our philosophy of preaching based on Jesus’ teaching in the parable of “Tares among Wheat” from Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43.
First, we must hold a homiletic that demands preaching. Jesus explains in the parable that He is the sower of good seed (v. 37). If by the King’s own words, He is the one doing the work of embedding the Word of God in the hearts of men, and if by implication He is the One who owns the harvest, then how can we say that this action of Jesus demands that preachers imitate His work? Here is the answer. If Jesus, the King of the kingdom, is working to build the kingdom, how can we who love the King, have been saved and called by the King, and who are working for the King not do likewise? The short answer, we cannot! To be like Jesus we must sow good seed in our preaching. In order to do so, we must preach and we must preach Christ Himself!
Second, we must hold a homiletic that recognizes the presence of the lost and the saved. Notice in the parable that when the slaves of the landowner see the tares, they desire immediately to go and rid the field of those tares. The landowner forbids them out of concern that they may harm the wheat while attempting to eradicate the tares (vv. 27-29). An exhaustive treatment of the implications of these statements is beyond the scope of this project, but at a minimum, understand that every time we preach, both the lost and saved likely are present. We would like to believe that all of our church members are in fact redeemed. We should do everything in our power and under Biblical prescription to work toward this end. (This discussion is for another day). However, a homiletic based in the reality of Jesus’ teaching here understands that the presence of the unredeemed among us will be the case until the consummation of history. Therefore, our homiletic must be characterized by wisdom, grace, and discernment regarding how we address the lost or those we perceive to be lost, so that we do not harm those who are redeemed or may be in the future.
Third, we must hold a homiletic, therefore, that is passionate yet clear. This implication is an outgrowth of the previous one. Since Jesus taught that tares among wheat is a constant reality, we must be passionate toward our audience when we preach. However, since He also taught that we must be careful with the tares so as not to uproot the wheat, we must be clear regarding which group in the audience we are addressing and what application we are making to them. Specifically, our homiletic must rejoice with the redeemed and over the promises to them while calling the lost to redemption. I certainly am not suggesting that the redeemed never need admonishment and a call to correction, but they are not the ones who need repentance and faith unto salvation. They have it! However, even though the King died for and loves them, the unredeemed are in a perilous state according to our text. In addition, we do exult over and joyfully look for the rewards that the Father will give, but we must be clear that these promises are for the redeemed alone. Our preaching must be precise.
Fourth, we must hold a homiletic that recognizes the faithful work of Jesus. The text is straightforward; Jesus is ultimately the One sowing and who owns the final harvest of the wheat (vv. 37-38). He also is the One who will set everything in order and bring about final judgment and justice (vv. 41-43). Jesus can be trusted! The truths communicated here should give us confidence to preach and should drive us to make Him the central content of our preaching.
Finally, we must hold a homiletic that also recognizes the activity of our enemy. As great a comfort as it is to trust that Jesus is unceasingly faithful in His work, equally concerning should be that the devil is committed to his work. He is the enemy constantly striving against the redemption of souls. “And the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil . . .” (vv. 38b-39a). Again, this should drive us to our work. We must sow the seed. We must preach the Word!
When I was a little boy, my grandfather owned a field. Daily Grandpa, the owner of the field, worked diligently in that field. A primary joy of his was his acreage of purple hull peas. These peas yielded their produce at different times throughout the summer. Picking the peas too early made them uneatable. In the summers, my brother and I often would go before sunrise to handpick peas in our grandpa’s field. Now, at least two realities drove our work. One was the example of the work of the field owner, our grandfather. The other was the condition of the field itself, namely the readiness of the peas. So must be the case of a preacher’s work for the kingdom. Ultimately, the example of the work of the King and the nature of the kingdom itself should drive us to a “Kingdom-Minded Homiletic.”
About: Dr. Adam Hughes is the Dean of Chapel and Assistant Professor of Expository Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as the Director of Mentoring Programs in Pastoral Ministries. He earned his Master of Divinity (2006) and PhD (2013) from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.