9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”
If you didn’t read my blog post from last week, you should start there: http://www.theanchorchurch.us/nates-blog/the-baseball-player.
If you did read it, I’m thinking that might have left you a little confused. Maybe you thought you got it but weren’t sure. Maybe you thought it was a mistake. Maybe like my son, Clark, you thought that it was a commentary about how much I hate the use of the shift in major league baseball or that I was trying to pay homage to a great moment in baseball history. I was doing neither. Or maybe you saw right through it and discovered its true purpose: a parable. I would recommend reading Jesus’ masterful “Parable of the Sower” in Mark 4 and then compare it to my hatchet job parallel of “The Baseball Player”.
Yet, Jesus made it clear to His disciples exactly why he spoke in so many parables. His goal was to confuse. You see Jesus told a story as confusing as mine, finished with “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear,” which basically means “If you get it, you get it, if you don’t, you don’t,” and He walked away. I think because we have heard the interpretation of parables so many times or at least understand that parables do have an interpretation that we miss how odd they must have been to his original hearers. It wasn’t until much later that day that He explained what the parable meant to His disciples. His answer as to why was that truth concerning the Kingdom of God was not just meant for anyone. It was meant for true truth-seekers. Hundreds, if not thousands and possibly tens of thousands, had flocked to Jesus. They had come for a variety of reasons: to be healed, to check out ‘the show’, to hear a great speaker, to join in the revolution, but very few came for the right reason: to abandon everything in the pursuit of God’s Kingdom. Jesus’ Kingdom message was for Kingdom citizens. It was never meant for those ‘outside’ of the Kingdom.
Jesus’ uses a quote from Isaiah which drew a direct line from the hardened hearts of Isaiah’s day to the hard hearts in Jesus’ day. In a sarcastic tone, Isaiah said of his hearers, “Heaven forbid you hard hearted heathens might actually open up your ears, repent and find forgiveness!” Both sets of Israelites had rejected the truth for so long and in so many ways that God was hardening their hearts as a judgment on them.
The great news for truth-seekers is that Jesus had a dual purpose in parables. For Kingdom citizens parables are meant to enlighten and inform us on Kingdom principles. In Matthew’s parallel account in 13:11-12, Jesus said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” For us, the secrets of the Kingdom are readily available to those who seek them.
May we see and cherish the privilege we have to know and understand truth and be ever ready to share the truth to all those who seek it.