10 Later Jesus was alone. The 12 disciples asked him about the stories. So did the others around him. 11 He told them, “The secret of God’s kingdom has been given to you. But to outsiders everything is told using stories. 12 In that way, “ ‘They will see but never know what they are seeing. They will hear but never understand. Otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ ” (Isaiah 6:9,10) 13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this story? Then how will you understand any stories of this kind? 14 The seed the farmer plants is God’s message. 15 What is seed scattered on a path like? The message is planted. The people hear the message. Then Satan comes. He takes away the message that was planted in them. 16 And what is seed scattered on rocky places like? The people hear the message. At once they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no roots. So they last only a short time. They quickly fall away from the faith when trouble or suffering comes because of the message. 18 And what is seed scattered among thorns like? The people hear the message. 19 But then the worries of this life come to them. Wealth comes with its false promises. The people also long for other things. All of these are the kinds of things that crowd out the message. They keep it from producing fruit. 20 And what is seed scattered on good soil like? The people hear the message. They accept it. They produce a good crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted.”
Upon first reading, it can seem a bit hard to understand Jesus’ explanation of why he spoke in parables. It can sound like Jesus is trying to keep the truth from people by hiding it in parables “lest they should be converted and their sins be should be forgiven”.
But if we think a bit harder about human nature and our own experiences, we realise that often people (including myself!) are resistant to hearing the truth.
So when Jesus used parables, He didn’t start by stating a truth. Instead, the parable was like a doorway. Jesus’ listeners stood at the doorway and heard Him. If they were not interested, they stayed on the outside. But if they were interested, they could walk through the doorway and think about the truth behind the parable and what it meant to their lives.
As one commentator puts it: “Jesus didn’t use parables to blind people, but because they were blind. Therefore Jesus used the parabolic method, not in order to blind them, but in order to make them look again; not in order to prevent them from coming to forgiveness, but in order to lure them toward a new attention.” (Morgan)
I want to be one who is open and willing to hearing truth – even when it reveals something in me that I’d rather not see or acknowledge.
God help me embrace Your words and to walk through the door to dig deeper to find Your truth.
Written by Shelley Witt