Jesus sometimes taught using parables. Parables are short stories that use familiar things to teach gospel truths.
One parable that Jesus taught while he was in Galilee was about wheat and tares (a kind of weed). Jesus said that a man who had a field planted good wheat seed in it. While he slept, someone came and planted tares, which look a lot like wheat as they grow, in the same field. All the seeds started to grow, and blades of wheat and tares broke through the ground.
A worker in the field noticed the tares growing with the wheat. He asked the owner, “Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?” (Matt. 13:27).
The owner of the field said that an enemy must have planted the tares. When the worker asked if the tares should be pulled up and destroyed, the owner said no. If the tares were weeded out, he explained, a lot of the wheat would be destroyed, too, since they were growing side by side.
So the wheat and the tares were both allowed to grow until harvesttime. Then the owner told the reapers to first gather and store the wheat safely in the barn. After that was finished, they were to gather the tares into bundles and burn them.
When Jesus’ disciples were alone with him, they asked him to explain the parable. Jesus said that the sower of the good seed represented himself and the Apostles; the field represented the world; the good seed, his righteous followers; and the tares, those who follow Satan. Satan was the sower of the tares. The harvest represented the end of the world, and the reapers represented angels.
Right now good and bad people are allowed to “grow” together. But at the end of the world, angels will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. The unrighteous—those who have chosen to break the commandments—will be punished and will wail and gnash their teeth. However, the righteous—those who have chosen to keep the commandments—will “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).
When we come to earth, we are given the freedom to choose between good and evil. It is up to us to choose whether we will be like the wheat or the tares.