In Matthew 13, Jesus told a parable. Many of Jesus’ parable are allegories which use every day events and situations to reveal a greater truth. He used things people understood in life to illustrate things of the spiritual realm. He did this to reveal truth to those who were willing to hear and believe, but also to conceal truth from those who would willingly reject truth.
On one occasion, he told a parable about wheat and weeds. He spoke about a farmer who planted a field of wheat and one night, an enemy came on his land and sowed weeds among the wheat. Roman history recorded that this behavior of sowing weeds in the field of someone you didn’t like was so common that the Romans passed a law against the practice. The wheat started growing and with the wheat came the weeds. The servants went to the farmer and told him that there were weeds growing among the wheat. Now you might be thinking like the servants, “Well, let’s go pull them up.” The farmer points out that it would be impossible to pull out the weeds without damaging the wheat. Furthermore, it is hard to tell the difference between the plants in the early stages of development. Look at this picture:
On the one side you see wheat and on the other side is the weeds or as it is known today as bearded darnel. Wheat is used to make food. Bearded darnel is poisonous. So, the farmer tells his servants, no, don’t try to pull out the weeds because you will also uproot the wheat. He told them to wait for the harvest and at the harvest time the field will be cut down and the wheat will be separated from the weeds. The weeds will be gathered and burned and the wheat will be gathered into the barns.
After Jesus told another couple of parables, he left the crowds. You just imagine the disciples, “hey Jesus, the crowds are all gone, so now can you tell us what you are talking about?” They knew Jesus wasn’t just telling a story about a farmer who had a problem. They knew the parable had deeper significance, but they couldn’t figure it out.
So, Jesus, explained the parable to them. This parable, only found in Matthew, is one of the few parables Jesus himself gave a specific explanation of the meaning.
37 He replied: “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered 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 gather from his kingdom all who cause sin and those guilty of lawlessness. 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 their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears listen.
One of the things we learn in Jesus’ explanation of the parable is that hell is a real place. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is. You can’t rationalize it away. You can’t wish it away. You shouldn’t ignore it. Some people have tried to debate it away saying God won’t possibly allow anyone to go there. The fact is no one has to go to hell, but many will make the choice to go to hell. They make the choice to go to hell because they refuse to accept the salvation Jesus offers to them.
The amazing thing for people who deny hell’s existence is that Jesus taught on hell more often than he taught about heaven. He compared hell to the Valley of Hinnom which was a public trash dump where dead bodies and trash burned continually. He compared hell to a prison of which, once you are there, there is no escape. At least 20 times, Jesus spoke of the fire of hell.
Hell is a place of fiery torment. Jesus indicated people in hell will be weeping and gnashing their teeth. The gnashing of teeth is an expression of the anger and frustration of the damned. They will be angry, not repentant. They will be frustrated by their predicament and they will be unable to change their position or status. That is truly a terrifying thought. A person who would not accept Jesus as Savior and Lord on earth will not repent and turn to him in eternity; nor will they have opportunity. Hell is a real place. There is a day of judgment coming and no one has to go to hell. Jesus offers salvation to all who will believe.