Fri., Jan. 21/22
“When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables…’” (Mark. 4:10-11).
Jesus had just told the crowds the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-9). Most left puzzled, but those who lingered, learned. The best rewards always go to those willing to exert effort… willing to chew the meaty things, not settle for the soup.
But beyond that, we must realize the grace of Jesus is not cheap! Jesus gives us eternal life… but we must put down the self-focused life we have in order to take it from Him. Only the sincere will do that. But he extends that gift to “whosoever will” (8:34-35, Rev. 22:17). There is a testimony in that extended arm: All see it, but few will take it. To sift through to the serious Jesus says, “…everything is said in parables so that ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (v.12).
He quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10. Here Isaiah writes of his vision of the high and exalted Lord in Whose Presence he cries, “Woe to me! …I am ruined! For… my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (v.5). But the Lord removes his guilt and sends Isaiah on a mission: “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving… Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Isaiah too was a testimony.
It’s not that God wishes to set souls up for damnation, but He wants to give the hard-hearted and self-righteous as much a fair shake at salvation as the meek and surrendered. So He uses parables. “He who has ears to hear,” He often prefaced.
Danish theologian, existentialist philosopher, social critic, and author Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) once commented, “Christians remind me of schoolboys who want to look up the answers to their math problems in the back of the book rather than work them through.”
The disciples studied and worked through their mysteries “when they were alone,” in quieter moments with their Lord and Tutor, by sincere questions, and with ears to hear.
So can you!