ENEMIES AT WORK WHILE YOU SLEEP
If you have an enemy, they may be ingenious in their deception to bring harm your way. They seem to have help beyond their normal intelligence to cause trouble and cover their tracks. Why do evildoers sometimes seem to get away with it?
No doubt you want to retaliate and respond immediately to the person who is out to ruin you. They may catch you unaware when you are sleeping or not paying attention, but you wake up eventually and realize what they have done. Jesus teaches a better response to evil.
The old English word used for weeds in this story is tares. While we think of weeds as being any undesirable plant in our yard or garden, tares has a more sinister meaning.
Tares (KJV) or weeds (NIV) here are darnel (Lolium temulentum), a poisonous weed organically related to wheat and difficult to distinguish from wheat in the early stages of its growth. Given the occasional feuding of rival farmers, it is not surprising that Roman law would specifically forbid sowing such poisonous plants in another's field or that one who found an abundance of such weeds would suspect an enemy's hand.[i]
The devious neighbor with an evil plan plants weeds that start out looking the same as the wheat. It is not until the plants grow that the poisonous weed is revealed. The enemy is deceptive, but the victim suspects where the trouble has come from.
It reminds me of the guy who snuck into his neighbor’s house and released one hundred white mice. The neighbor soon discovered that his house was being overrun with mice and decided to move away. Sometimes the bad guys seem to win.
In Jesus’ story the enemy tries to destroy the work of another man, but God’s wisdom in the matter teaches another way to deal with the problems caused by another.