Tabula Rasa – about the Wheat and the Tares

Tabula Rasa – about the Wheat and the Tares

The people I like to listen to most these days, or under whose teaching I like to place myself, are the people who practice the Latin phrase Tabula Rasa – “I don’t know anything.”

They are people who know they are blind and unless Jesus opens their eyes they won’t be able to see and therefore they won’t be able to teach me anything.

I want to be one of them.

It might help for us to picture ourselves as an erased blackboard ready for God to write upon us what he wants us to learn. And when it boils down to those parables—we don’t know anything.

The Heart of a Child

Isn’t this why Jesus places a child in front of the crowd and says that unless we become like him—open, eager to learn, innocent at heart—we will never be able to understand the things he wants to teach us about his way of life, the kingdom way of life?

The parables that Jesus told, the stories he shared with the crowds, were riddles – impossible and paradoxical. They couldn’t be resolved by normal means of logic.

They were meant to turn our reality upside down.

Let’s take the parable of the wheat and the tares, for instance. Most often I’ve heard this parable explained that the field is a picture of the images world with saints and sinners growing up in the field together. When Jesus interpreted this story to his small group, that’s what he said it meant. (See Matthew 13:37-39).

But what if there’s yet another layer of meaning here?

Haven’t you known a particular verse and thought it meant one thing only to find out with some digging that it meant much more than you originally understood?

We Understand Up to the Light We Have

Jesus tells his disciples he isn’t able to tell them everything yet. They can’t “bear” it. What does that mean?

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).

What he means, in essence, is this: I want to say more to you, show you the depth and width and breadth of so many spiritual truths, but you are not mature enough to carry this truth yet. The Holy Spirit will reveal many of these things to you later.


Coming from Another Angle

imagesWhat would happen if this parable also means we are the field? That within us there are wheat and weeds growing up together? After all, in the parable of the Sower and the Seed, the field is our heart. It’s to be taken personally.

The truth of this parable multiplies exponentially if we look at it as double-sided—with a general application to the world and a personal application to my own life.

I have wheat and tares growing up together within my soul. I am always a combination of saint and sinner. On my best days, the sinner is always there. And on my worst days, so is the saint.

If I attempt to pull out all the tares so the wheat can grow strong and healthy, I usually get myself in trouble. Mainly because I’m attempting to do a work only God can do. When he said, “You can’t do anything without me,” he meant it literally.

I cannot really change my own heart. Can you change yours?

Tares are darnel weeds and resemble rye grain until the seeds form, which are black. Until then, they are indistinguishable from the wheat. Once I determine something deceitful has snuck into my life, how do I go about dislodging it without also pulling up the good seed growing there?

There can only be one answer.

I bring what I see into his presence. His light banishes darkness and heals my brokenness. I cry out to the One who is able to deliver me and ask him to change my heart.

As Keith Campbell, our worship leader/pastor, has so beautifully written…

He’s in the room
Not far away
Watching every move
Waiting for her to say
Come and be
Strength to my bones
Be light to my day
I can’t do this alone

A simple call for help brings all of heaven’s resources to every child of this great King we serve.

One Last Thought 

We can take this parable’s teaching to one more level. Our habit of trying to remove tares from the lives of others.

Oh how I hate to admit this one, but I’ve fallen prey to the idea of fixing friends, family, even counselees. I meant well but I learned painfully that

  1. It’s a good way to alienate people.
  2. It’s not my job – I’m not the Holy Spirit.
  3. It doesn’t work!

That person has to find her way to God and cry out for help. I can pray though—that she’ll find her way to him, that she’ll be willing to let go of what he shows her. I can be there in that way, but that’s all, unless she asks for my help specifically.

In the end, I know so little about so much. I need Jesus daily to show me the way, to mend the broken places I see, to pull out the false and deceptive, and to love me into his perfect way.

The amazing thing is because I am in him, he becomes my wisdom and he redeems all that is not right (see 1 Cor. 1:30). As I yield, he works.

Can we get a better deal that that?



  1. Very encouraging! Thanks

  2. A word aptly spoken…<3

  3. This always blesses my soul and gives me something to chew on. Hmmm – especially the last part!
    Blessings, dear friend!

  4. Beautifully written and so true. It brings to mind a line of poetry I once
    memorized: “Beauty is truth and Truth beauty” from Ode to a Grecian Urn.

    Hope all is well at Lake Placid.

    Love and hugs ,

  5. Thanks Cathee. I see the fruit of your writing in your life.

  6. Beautifully stated. Rich in thought.

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