Take Care How You Listen! Part 1
When a big group of people had gathered, and people from other towns were making their way to Him, He used a parable to explain what was happening: 5 “In order to sow his seed, the sower went out to plow the field. As he plowed part of the seed spilled beside the road, where it was trampled underfoot and devoured by birds of prey. Another seed dropped on rough soil and perished immediately after it sprouted, owing to a lack of moisture in the environment. 7 Another seed landed amid the thorns, and the thorns rose up around it and choked it out.
8″ Whenever He uttered something like this, He would yell out, “Let him who has ears hear, let him hear.” 9 His followers started to interrogate Him about the significance of this tale.
11 The parable is as follows: the seed represents the word of God.
13 Those who are planted on rocky soil are those who, when they hear the word, rejoice in it; nevertheless, they have no strong root system; they believe for a moment but then abandon it when faced with temptation.
15 However, the seed planted in healthy soil represents those who have heard the word with an honest and good heart, and who have held on to it, and who have produced fruit with persistence.
17 Because there is nothing hidden that will not become apparent, and there is nothing secret that will not be discovered and brought to light.
How Do We Prepare for Preaching and How Do We Respond?
During our discussion last week, we inquired as to why preaching is given such a prominent role in the church’s corporate worship events. This week and next week, we will consider the following questions: How should the congregation prepare for preaching, and how should we respond to preaching? In order to respond to this topic, I have picked a book that is entirely concerned with hearing the word of God delivered. To demonstrate to you that this is truly the truth, the first thing I want to do is read you the passage from which I quoted above, which is all about hearing the word of God as it is proclaimed.
If you accept the text at its value, it suggests that one in every four individuals will be permanently harmed (as in the soils), which is not encouraging.
But, obviously, Jesus is cautioning us preachers against being arrogant, lest we believe we can easily transform people, or discouraged, should we become disheartened if a large number of hearers do not respond with lasting change.
Is Preaching an Effective Way of Communicating?
Some individuals believe that preaching has reached the end of its usefulness since it is ineffective in transforming people’s hearts and minds. The explanation is that it has never been statistically significant in terms of effectiveness. In fact, no other mode of communication has done so, according to statistics. And the reason for this is not due to the mode of communication. The explanation for this is seen in Matthew 7:14, which states, “The gate is tiny, and the path is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” So, in Luke 13:24, Jesus tells his followers, “Strive to enter by the tiny door; for many, I tell you, will strive to enter and will not be able to.” When the Word is spoken and the path to life is demonstrated, make every effort to enter.
- It’s about hearing and not hearing at the same time.
- It is about folks who believe they have heard something, yet have not heard anything.
- Allow me to demonstrate this so that you may see it for yourself.
- In this moment – and every Sunday in these minutes – we are doing something monumental that will have eternal ramifications for what you do with what you hear.
- The one who preaches the Word is known as the sower.
A Parable About Hearing
Afterwards, there are four different types of soil that respond to this preaching of the Word: What we want to pay attention to is that Jesus interprets each of them expressly as one of four ways of hearing the Word. This is really significant. It all comes down to listening. “Some seed dropped by the path,” according to Verse 5, “and it was trampled under foot while the birds of the air ate it up.” This is a reference to the Word of God. In verse 12, he says, “Those by the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and snatches the word from their hearts, so that they would not believe and be saved.” That’s one type of hearing, for sure.
The following is how verse 13 is interpreted: “Those on rocky soil are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with gladness; and these have no strong foundation; they believe for a moment, but when they are tempted, they turn away from it.” That’s a different type of hearing from the first.
“The seed that fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have listened, and as they continue on their path, they are strangled with anxieties and riches and pleasures of this life, and they do not bear fruit until they reach maturity.” There is a third type of hearing, which is amplification.
He Who Has Ears to Hear
Afterwards, at the conclusion of verse 8, Jesus double-checks that we understood his message about hearing by saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” That implies that simply having ears on the side of your head is not sufficient. Those are something that everyone possesses. However, there is another type of ear that only a few people are blessed with. “There are those who can hear.” “Let him who has ears hear what he has to say.” There is a spiritual ear, or a heart-ear, that can hear things.
- Beauty, truth, and force are all there in the music that these ears perceive as captivating, transforming, and preserving.
- In this work, the author discusses this topic.
- “His followers started to ask Him about the significance of this tale,” according to verses 9-10.
- The mystery of Jesus’ kingdom is revealed to those who have been chosen by him, and he bestows the gift of insight onto them.
- “So that seeing they may not see and hearing they may not comprehend,” he adds in verse 10b, referring to the rationale for his parables for the others.
- The physical ears of the head and the spiritual ears of the heart are therefore two different types of hearing.
- And this, he claims, is one of the reasons Jesus employs parables: “so that” when people hear them, they would not grasp what he is saying.
The Word Saves Some and Hardens Some
This severe word is taken from Isaiah 6:9-10, in which God warns Isaiah that his mission to Israel would not only save some, but will also harden others. God addresses Isaiah as follows: “‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on seeing, but do not comprehend,’ you should tell these people. Make the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, so that they will not be able to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, comprehend with their hearts, and so that they will not return and be cured.” For want of a better phrase, time had run out for these individuals, and the Word of God was no longer effective in saving them, but rather in dulling their hearts, dulling their ears, and dimming their eyes instead.
Something extremely significant about preaching is taught to us via this.
God’s awful work of judgment may be carried out through the preaching of the Word.
Not only in this world, but also in the world to come (Romans 1:24), there is a day of reckoning, and oh, how we should run away from it.
Don’t take God’s Word for granted, even if you’re hearing it week after week. If it is not softening, saving, healing, and bringing fruit, it is most likely hardening, blinding, and dulling the senses and the mind (see 2 Corinthians 2:16).
The Effectiveness of Hearing
The last time hearing is mentioned in this text is at the end of the paragraph. It appears at an unexpected location. I would have anticipated it to appear immediately after the parable – specifically, just after verse 15. However, it is found in verse 18: “Be careful how you listen,” says the author. That is exactly what the text is trying to convey. And that is the key point I want to make this morning. Take special attention in how you hear. Preaching is one thing, and it is quite important.
- There is absolutely nothing in this passage that speaks to the efficiency of preaching or teaching.
- The purpose is not to say, “Pay attention to how you preach.” “However, pay attention to how you hear.” Notice the reason for being so attentive about how you hear that is provided in the remainder of verse 18.
- Now, what does it have to do with anything?
- There are two elements to it: the positive (“whoever has, more shall be given to him”) and the negative (“whoever does not have, less shall be given to him”) (“whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him”).
- “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear,” Jesus said.
- Because “to whoever more is given, more shall be given to him.” If you have spiritual ears, you will be granted the ability to comprehend.
- It is those who have heard the word with an honest and good heart and have held it fast, who bear fruit with persistence, who are the seed in the good soil.
And the more that is provided, the more fruit is produced.
Listen with your spiritual ears rather than simply your physical hearing.
“Whoever does not have” is defined as follows: Let’s take a look at the negative part of verse 18: “Whoever does not have will have taken away from him even what he believes he has.” What is it that you’re referring to?
The Word of God is heard in each of the first three soils (verses 12-14) in the book of Revelation.
First soil, verse 12: They believe they have the Word, but the devil takes it from their grasp.
Their faith is a feigned passion that only exists on sunny days and when the weather is nice.
Finally, in verse 14, the third soil is mentioned: they believe they have the Word of God, but when the troubles, riches, and joys of life arrive, what they believe they have is taken away, and they are unable to produce any fruit as a result.
This phrase comes true three times: “Whoever does not have, even what he believes he has, shall have it taken away from him.” But on one occasion – on the fourth soil – it is the inverse that occurs: “Whoever possesses, to him more shall be given.” If you listen with an open mind and a good heart (v.
15), you will receive more than you can handle. This coming week, I’ll attempt to provide an explanation for why Jesus’ sayings concerning the light and lampstand (verses 16-17) are sandwiched between the interpretation of the parable of the soils and its practical conclusion in verse 18.
Take Heed How You Hear
But for the time being, the key lesson is apparent and extremely important: “Pay attention to how you hear!” It will be awarded to the one who has the most. Are you able to hear what is being said? Do you think you’ve found a new heart? Next week, I’m going to speak about how to prepare yourself for hearing something like this in a very practical way. But this morning, all I want is for the weight of the world to fall on us. The importance of hearing cannot be overstated. I am certain with all of my heart that I have been called to preach the Word of God to others.
- This scripture, on the other hand, is about another great calling – the calling to hear the Word of God.
- The stakes are really high in this situation.
- There is a listening that lasts until a difficult event in one’s life occurs, after which one turns away from God and toward other teachings.
- A hearing that triumphs against the adversary, survives adversity, scorns wealth, and yields fruit that leads to eternal life is available.
- Let us pray to God for it.
- Similarly to how we prayed during prayer week, “Open my eyes, so I may see Wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18), let us now pray, “Open my ears, that I may hear the Word of God, with an honest and good heart, and be saved” (Luke 8:12) and bear fruit in our lives.
Why Does Christ Want Some Not to Believe?
Transcript of the audio What is it in Christ that makes him desire some people to not believe? There are many Bible readers who find themselves scratching their heads when they come across passages like Matthew 13:13 and Luke 8:10. Today’s question comes from a listener called Max, and it is directed to Pastor John, who joins us via Skype once more. “Greetings, Pastor John! Can you explain Jesus’ parable in Luke 8:9–15, in which he mentions Isaiah 6:9, and how it relates to Isaiah 6:9? In Isaiah 6:10, God commands that he’make the heart of this people dumb,.
comprehend with their hearts, and turn and be cured.’ God is referring to the blindness of the people.
Please assist me in comprehending this seeming paradox and, if at all possible, God’s logic for hardening particular souls in order to prevent them from repentance.” There are two questions that need to be addressed here.
Is it true that God’s desire for all people to be saved precludes God from exercising definitive control over who is in fact saved as a result of 1 Timothy 2:4?
That is one of the questions. What is God’s reasoning or purpose in blocking certain people from knowing the truth and being saved in Luke 8 is the subject of the second inquiry. Now, let’s take them one at a time and see how they relate to one another.
It says in 1 Timothy 2:1–4:I implore you to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings on behalf of everyone, especially for kings and all those in positions of authority, so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every manner, as you read this letter. In the eyes of God, our Savior, this is desirable and pleasant, since he wishes that all people be rescued and come to know the truth. Because of this verse, the issue arises: If God intends that all people be saved, why aren’t all people saved?
As for the traditional contemporary (and by modern, I mean the last two to three hundred years) response, it is that man’s free will, his self-determination, prevents God from doing what he intends, which is to save him and his people.
Now, I don’t believe that’s a biblical response, to be honest.
No, I do not believe that man possesses that type of free will or self-determination that would allow him to oppose God’s sovereign will to save anyone he pleases by conquering their hard hearts, their opposition, and their disobedience, and giving them a new heart of trust.
According to Paul’s theology, faith is a gift from God, rather than something that man creates for himself out of his own final self-determination. It is not the result of free will, as defined as the ability to make decisions for oneself. In Philippians 1:29, in Ephesians 2:8, and most notably in Acts 13:48, Luke declares that it is only those whom God has selected and ordained who will genuinely believe when they hear the gospel, and this is supported by the evidence. “The Gentiles. began praising and glorifying the word of the Lord, and those who were appointed to eternal life believed,” the Bible says.
In fact, Paul expresses this sentiment directly to Timothy in these same letters.
God may, in his mercy, offer them repentance, resulting in their coming to know the truth.” The term “to a knowledge of the truth” (which is more literally translated as “to come to a knowledge of the truth”) is the same exact language used in 1 Timothy 2:4, where God wishes that all people come to a “knowledge of the truth,” which not everyone achieves.
On the other hand, according to 2 Timothy 2:25, God may give, as a gift, that certain specific persons will come to a knowledge of the truth under some circumstances.
On one level, God wishes for everyone to be rescued.
The desire for everyone to be rescued is hindered by another commitment in God, another commitment to act with wisdom and justice, and another commitment to love more broadly — love viewed from a broader viewpoint, a broader lens — which stops him from acting in a way that saves all.
Blinded in Judgment
So, in answer to Max’s question concerning Luke 8, about God’s choice not to rescue some from their resistance and spiritual blindness, what we have seen so far is that this is not a contradiction of 1 Timothy 2:4, where God intends all people to be saved. He wishes it, but he doesn’t always do it. And Max is saying, “Well, please help me comprehend God’s logic behind the hardening of certain hearts to block them from repentance.” And then he quotes Luke 8:9–10. When Jesus’s disciples asked him what the parable of the sower meant, he said, “To you it has beengiven.” So, it’s a gift: they don’t deserve it; they didn’t earn it.
God says to Isaiah,Go, and say to these people:“Keep on hearing, but do not understand;keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” Make the heart of this people dull,and their ears heavy,and blind their eyes;lestthey see with their eyes,and hear with their ears,and understand with their hearts,and turn and be healed.
- The explanation of hardening in Isaiah’s and in Jesus’s ministry is that this design of God’s word is judgment.
- This dulling, hardening effect of the preaching is not happening to people who love the word of God.
- Mark that.
- There’s nobody kicking and screaming, moving into blindness, saying, “Oh, I want to see!” There are no innocent people under the judgment of God’s blinding.
- Nobody is made blind to God who loves to see God.
Mercy on All
And I’ll conclude with this question: Where is this judgment taking us. What is the overall picture? In Romans 11:25–26, Paul explains why this is the case. He says to us Gentiles, “Lest you think you are wise in your own eyes, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” He is referring to the partial hardening that has occurred until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way, the entire nation of Israel will be spared.
As a result, the process of judgment leads to redemption.
I can’t even imagine the wealth and wisdom and understanding that God has to offer! How impenetrable his judgements are, and how incomprehensible his methods are! . For everything comes from him, all things pass through him, and all things return to him. Forever and ever, praise be to him. Amen.
Why Did Jesus Speak in So Many Parables? #333 – Bible Reading Podcast
Friends, have a wonderful Tuesday! In the midst of this most terrible of years, we are just two days away from Thanksgiving, and I was reminded today that not only today, but also 2020 is the YEAR that the Lord has created, so let us even rejoice and be joyful in this most difficult of years. The readings from the Bible today are two chapters from 1st Chronicles, chapters 19 and 20, Jonah 3, Luke 8, and 1 Peter 1. This morning we’re talking about parables, and they’ve been on my mind a lot lately because our church is now in the midst of a series on the parables of Jesus.
- The phrase literally translates as ‘cast beside’ or ‘placed next to.'” It is a type of example or comparison that instructs or assists you in comprehending a fact.
- In this way, they distinguish between people who are truly interested in truth and the teachings of Jesus and others who are simply superficially interested in these things.
- This implies that not everyone will be able to comprehend the parables, and – what is very intriguing – this is done on purpose.
- In addition to being magnificent representations of truth, the parables go well beyond a straightforward “do this and don’t do that” manner of teaching.
I’ll give you two explanations for this: This is 1Jesus’ response to that inquiry, 10 The disciples then approached him and inquired as to why he was speaking to them in parables: “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” 11He said, “Because the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have been revealed to you, but they have not been revealed to others.” He explained why.
- 13That is why I talk to them in parables, because they cannot see or comprehend what they are looking at, and they cannot hear what they are hearing or understand what they are hearing.
- 444 It is impossible for anybody to come to me except the Father who sent me pulls him, and on the last day, I will raise him up.
- The Gotquestions team describes it in the following way: He went on to explain that He used parables for a number of reasons, one of which was to expose the truth to those who want to know it and the other to conceal the truth from those who were indifferent.
- They were the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about a people who were hardhearted and spiritually blind (Isaiah 6:9–10).
- Anyone, even the Pharisees, who had a predetermined predisposition against the Lord’s teaching would dismiss the parables as irrelevant drivel, as did the Pharisees.
- Gotquestions.org (Beware of speculative material!) The second reason is that the parables have an almost riddle-like quality to them — they are riddles, and the meaning of the parables is not immediately apparent.
- I used to have an old hobby type metal detector that I bought on the spur of the moment on the way to the beach years ago, but it wasn’t very good and I only used it sometimes.
However, this year, I upgraded to a newer and better metal detector and began to devote more time and effort to the pastime.
I’ve discovered coins that are more than 100 years old, as well as some other interesting relics, among other things.
However, I would have placed a lower value on that which I could have purchased easily than on that which I had searched for, dug for, and worked hard to obtain.
Because they are in such wonderful shape, they are probably worth $50-60 dollars overall in their current state.
My metal detector findings are quite valuable to me, and I have no intention of selling them, but rather of passing them on to my children.
No idea why, although it might have something to do with the joy of having tracked them down.
Consider the following Proverb: When God conceals a matter, it is his glory; when rulers explore a topic, it is their glory.
Although they aren’t immediately apparent, for those who prayfully study God’s Word in a profound way and meditate on these lessons, it appears that the realities are exposed in much the same way as a buried treasure is discovered.
As a result, I feel that the parables reflect hidden wealth that we must seek out.or, more accurately, listen to.with spiritual ears.
Those are something that everyone possesses.
And those who are able to hear.
When the preaching of the Word is done with more than just words, there is an ear that hears.
That is the type of hearing that Jesus is requesting from us.
Luke then goes on to explain how Jesus emphasized the meaning of parables in his circumstance, which serves to further emphasize the need of hearing.
And He added, “It has been allowed to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but it has been given to the rest in parables, so that “seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not comprehend.” This is a startling term to say out loud.
Tenth verse (a): “It has been granted to you so you may understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” Being able to comprehend the kingdom of God is a free gift from God to those who have been selected by Jesus to be his followers.
The subject is being discussed once more.
“ They just hear (with their physical ears), but they do not comprehend (with the spiritual ears).
The parables, in other words, constitute part of Jesus’ revealing and rescuing ministry, as well as part of his concealing and hardening mission.
This harsh word is taken from Isaiah 6:9–10, in which God warns Isaiah that his mission to Israel will not only save some but will also harden others.
This people’s hearts should be made insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, so that they cannot see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and comprehend with their hearts, and so that they cannot return and be cured.” For want of a better phrase, time had run out for these individuals, and the Word of God was no longer effective in saving them, but rather in dulling their hearts, dulling their ears, and dimming their eyes instead.
- Something extremely significant about preaching is taught to us via this.
- God’s awful work of judgment may be carried out through the preaching of the Word.
- In this world, there is a judgment—not just in the next (Romans 1:24), but also in this one—and oh, how we should run away from it.
- Don’t take God’s Word for granted, even if you’re hearing it week after week.
- The Efficacy of Auditory Instruction The last time hearing is mentioned in this text is at the end of the paragraph.
- I would have anticipated it to appear immediately after the parable—specifically, just after verse 15.
- And that is the key point I want to make this morning.
- Preaching is one thing, and it is quite important.
- There is absolutely nothing in this passage that speaks to the efficiency of preaching or teaching.
All of it boils down to the efficacy of hearing. The purpose is not to say, “Pay attention to how you preach.” “However, pay attention to how you hear.” Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) is a collection of sermons by John Piper (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).
Best of CT: Jesus’ Parables
Jesus frequently utilized parables to convey his teachings. As a matter of fact, he resorted to them so frequently that his followers confronted him with the question, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (Matt. 13:10; Luke 13:10) In recent years, CT has published a diverse range of essays that investigate and reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ powerful and convicting narratives. Listed below are some of our most popular articles about Jesus’ parables.
Jesus’ Use of Parables
Throughout these pieces, Virginia Stem Owens addresses Jesus’ deliberate use of surprise teaching approaches, while William Childs Robinson examines how the parables are intertwined to direct listeners and readers to the person of Jesus.
The Prodigal Son
Among Jesus’ most well-known parables, the narrative of the Prodigal Son has received a great deal of attention, and it has been debated extensively in CT. It is the third parable in Jesus’ lost-things trilogy, which also includes a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Our greatest pieces on the prodigal son include our 1998 cover story on the “pursuing” father, Miroslav Volf’s forthright discussion of how the tale relates to forgiveness, and Carolyn Arends’s brief essay on the elder brother.
The Good Samaritan
A major theme in our understanding of the Gospel of John and Christian virtue is the story of the Good Samaritan and the discourse that ensues about loving one’s neighbor. L. Nelson Bell utilizes the parable of the Good Samaritan (as well as the parable of the sheep and the goats) to illustrate how faith manifests itself in loving behavior in this passage. Also included is an examination of a frequent misunderstanding of Jesus’ listeners, which leads John Piper to investigate another modern misunderstanding of this parable: an overemphasis on one’s own love.
The Sheep and the Goats
The parable of the sheep and the goats, as well as Jesus’ instruction on how to treat “the least of these,” are frequently used in discussions of biblical justice and compassionate action on the part of Christians. Andy Horvath contends in this article that many Christians today misinterpret the parable’s central message, even as he maintains the need of compassionate action as a response to the gospel proclaimed in the passage.
The Parable of the Sower
A variety of soil types are used in Jesus’ parable of the sower in order to demonstrate the many ways in which individuals react to the message of God. This chapter contains Edith Schaeffer’s and L. Nelson Bell’s reflections on the tale, which highlight issues of evangelism, submission, and discipleship.
The Persistent Widow and the Importunate Friend
A number of parables on prayer were delivered by Jesus. A person who continually sought aid from a friend was portrayed in Luke 11; in Luke 18, Jesus presented the account of a resolute widow who was struggling with an unfair judge. Curtis C. Mitchell investigates what both stories might tell us about fostering perseverance in prayer in this article written for the Christian Science Monitor.
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
The tax collector who is praying nearby is described in another of Jesus’ parables that is tied to prayer by a religious leader who looks down on him. According to Edith Schaeffer, this tale (as well as Jesus’ teaching about a log in one’s eye) serve as a springboard for thinking about the dangers of self-righteousness.
As an added bonus, Mark R. McMinn explores this parable in conjunction with the story of the Prodigal Son in order to understand the depth of God’s grace.
The Slavery Parable
One of Jesus’ lesser-known parables is found in Luke 17:7–10, which tells the narrative of servants (or slaves). Alec Hill elaborates on the story in this section, describing the spiritual truths he has drawn from it regarding the nature of discipleship and obedience in general.
‘Consider the Cost’ Parables
In Luke 14, Jesus shared two parables that demonstrate the significance of taking the cost of discipleship into consideration. Andy Crouch ponders the ways in which these parables relate to and challenge American Christians in this piece.
The King and the Wedding Banquet
While many of Jesus’ parables illustrate God’s love in dramatic ways, others may leave us scratching our heads in bemusement. Mark Galli offers his thoughts on one of Jesus’ most unpleasant parables, in which a king tosses a man out of a feast, and explores what the parable says about the kingdom of God as a result of his comments.
The Pearl of Great Price
Allister McGrath, in answer to a query concerning postmodernism, relies on Jesus’ story of the pearl of great price to provide insights into the process of evangelization and mission. McGrath challenges readers to question how much we place value on the gospel message.
The Parable of the Talents
The parable of Jesus’ slaves who are given monies to steward on their master’s behalf is frequently used to highlight subjects such as financial stewardship and how individuals utilize their skills for God’s glory, among other things. David L. McKenna, in this piece, makes the connection between the parable and a wider issue of faith and work.
The Unforgiving Servant
A large number of Jesus’ parables and word images highlight the difficulty of forgiving someone. Beth Booram explores how Jesus’ story of the unforgiving servant leads us to a more in-depth application of Christlike forgiveness in her post.
The Workers in the Vineyard
Our perception of Jesus’ parable about vineyard laborers (as well as that of his first listeners) is that it is unjust. This was a component of Jesus’ argument, as did his reply. Caleb Rosado’s 1995 article utilizes the tale as a framework to examine a topic that is still relevant today: affirmative action policies. As an added bonus, Femi B. Adeleye makes the connection between this story and the significance of Christians taking a global perspective on God’s mission and the church.
Does Jesus want to conceal the truth about His Kingdom?
When Jesus was teaching the people about God’s kingdom, He frequently utilized parables to convey his message. These are short stories based on real-life situations that have a deeper, spiritual significance. When Jesus’ followers questioned Him about why He talked in parables, He responded with a stunning explanation. ” The secret of the kingdom of God has been revealed to you; but, for those outside the kingdom, everything is said in parables, so that they may indeed see but not comprehend, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they might turn and be forgiven (Mark 4:11-12, see also the parallels in Matthew 13:10-15 and Luke 8:9-10).
A different effect on different hearers
Jesus makes a distinction between two kinds of people who are listening to him. The first group consists of “you,” His disciples and followers, who are the ones who raised the question. These individuals are ready to hear what Jesus has to say. Jesus claims that they have been given “the secret of the kingdom of God,” which is disclosed to them in little doses through the parables that He tells. They will strive and gain further insight, even if the deeper meaning of the parables is not immediately apparent.
Jesus appears to be saying that He is speaking in parables in order for them to not grasp what He is teaching them!
He mentions certain passages from Isaiah 6:9 in this passage, stating that those who hear but do not comprehend will not repent and hence will not be pardoned. Who are these individuals, and why does Jesus not want them to comprehend His teaching in its whole and with clarity?
Who are “ those outside ”?
In Mark 3:22, we get a glimpse of Jesus’ intended audience. In this group of people are scribes from Jerusalem (= the religious authorities), who claim that Jesus has been infected with a demon, which was the worst conceivable allegation to level against Him after they realized they could no longer dispute His ability to do miracles. Mark 3:5-6 tells the story of how the Pharisees (= another set of religious officials) plotted Jesus’ crucifixion after He cured someone on the Sabbath, just a few verses earlier.
- It’s important to note that these words also indicate Jesus’ reaction to their opposition: He is enraged and distressed by their hardening of hearts.
- These verses demonstrate that not everyone in Jesus’ audience was truly interested in learning about God’s kingdom.
- Some individuals had witnessed several unambiguous indications and may have taken pleasure in witnessing the miracles performed by Jesus, but they did not believe.
- Others aggressively opposed Him or propagated false information about His identity.
- As a result, they were not privy to the facts of the kingdom’s existence.
Understanding Jesus’ parables requires careful listening
When Jesus relates the parable of the sower, he includes the statement “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear” at the end of the narrative (e.g. in Mark 4:9). If we wish to grasp the deeper spiritual significance of Jesus’ parables, we must pay close attention and be spiritually awake while listening. Preparedness is required in order to allow the truth to soak in and transform us. A true listening experience includes “doing,” “processing,” and allowing Jesus’ teachings to affect our lives.
“The natural person does not embrace the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him, and he is unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” says the Bible (1 Corinthians 2:14).
But why does Jesus not want them to understand?
Despite all of this, the fundamental question remains unanswered. Is it possible that Jesus want to keep the truth about His kingdom hidden from certain people? How does this relate to His desire that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, as shown plainly in Ezekiel 18:23, Mark 1:15, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, and 2 Peter 3:9? If God is all-powerful, why isn’t He able to convince everyone to believe in Him? These are difficult questions to answer. We humans are unable to provide definitive answers concerning God’s will since our comprehension of Him is too limited.
According to Ezekiel 18:23, God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, which is a clear statement from the Bible.
The two sons of the priest Eli serve as an illustration of this.
According to 1 Samuel 2:25, “they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.” In the same way, God hardened the hearts of the people of Israel as a whole, despite the fact that God tells people not to harden their hearts (Hebrews 3:8, 15, 4:7), He yet sent the Israelites into captivity, causing them to become hardened and unwilling to repent (Romans 11:7-8).
In other words, while God desires that all people be rescued – to the point that Jesus was ready to suffer in the place of humanity’s sin – it is also possible that He desires that people be destroyed (see 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12) when they refuse to repent.
Is God’s will at war with itself?
In other words, God mandates one state of circumstances while simultaneously wishing and teaching that an other condition of affairs should take place. The death of Jesus serves as the greatest illustration of this contradiction. Murder is expressly forbidden by God. He forbids the practice of wickedness. He desires for others to come to faith in Jesus and to acknowledge Him as their Lord. He has a deep affection for His own Son (Matthew 3:17). Despite this, it was God’s desire that Jesus Christ be rejected and taken captive, as well as that He suffer and die on the cross.
Although it was manifestly wrong to crucified Christ, it was a wonderful thing that His death occurred since it resulted in the salvation of millions of people who now have everlasting life.
A goal even more important than rescuing all people is the revelation of God’s entire glory in wrath and mercy (Romans 9:22–23), as well as the humbling of man so that he delights giving all credit for his own salvation to God (Romans 9:24).
Jesus will never reject someone who honestly searches for Him
God’s will is beyond our comprehension. We are baffled as to why He rescues some individuals from the snares of sin while allowing others to continue in their denial of His existence. One thing is undeniable, however: God would never turn away a person who seeks Him with all of their hearts. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you, as Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8. “Everyone who asks gets, and everyone who seeks finds, and to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” p.
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What Is a Parable and How Should We Read Them?
Throughout Jesus’ teachings, we discover stories about mustard seeds and pigs, pearls and wineskins, among other things. The stories of hidden gold and feasts, as well as tales of money and lost sheep, accumulate inside the pages of our Bibles. These vibrant stories elicit imagery on the earthly plane that we can see in order to transmit heavenly concepts that we cannot perceive. Simply said, a parable is a brief narrative that serves to communicate a larger reality. While the majority of Scripture’s parables are located in the Gospels, there are a handful that may be found in the Old Testament.
More than 40 parables are included in the New Testament. For those who have ears to hear, these stories provide a wealth of information concerning the Kingdom of God.
How Were Parables Used in the New Testament?
Jesus utilized parables to teach and expose spiritual truths, as well as to conceal spiritual truths from his disciples. The parables made a comparison between the tale that was told and the reality of the Kingdom of God. Unlike the first, which is straightforward and relatable, the second is profound and significant. When the two of them are combined, they urge comparison, which opens up windows of insight. Some people were able to comprehend the parables, while others were unable. In Matthew 13:10-16, the disciples express their dissatisfaction with Jesus’ use of parables.
He answers by saying that the facts of the kingdom had been revealed to some, but that they had not been shown to others.
The prophecy of Isaiah 6:9-10 was fulfilled by those who listened but did not comprehend what was being said.
A Brief History of Parable Interpretation
The genre of parables has spawned a slew of different schools of thought in biblical interpretation. The majority of theologians, including those who wrote the Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, believed that parables are allegories and that every character or item in the narrative was meant to represent something else (p. 411). This strategy resulted in a plethora of interpretations that arose with the development of denominations and traditions. There were moments when the interpretation deviated from what the original audience would or might have comprehended.
According to Robert H.
While each of these viewpoints is at the extremes of a continuum, using a centered approach allows us to remain rooted in Scripture while yet attempting to understand the entire significance of the tale.
How Should We Interpret Parables Today?
When there are several characters in a fable, it is useful to seek for the major point of each character. God is frequently represented by the role of a parent, a manager, or a monarch in parables and other literature. The remaining characters interact with his power and elegance, and they educate us about the consequences of their actions and reactions. The goal of a competent Bible student is to have an understanding of the cultural norms and mores of the original audience in order to extract the meaning of the text from it.
For example, the parable of the sower, which highlights a crop’s need on excellent soil and the ability of weeds to choke out life, would have struck a chord with Jesus’ audience (Matthew 13).
While we honor the do-gooder of this tale by naming charitable thrift stores and health clinics in his honor, the original audience would have been astonished to learn that a Samaritan, a despised social outcast, was lauded as the story’s hero.
They are not intended to be read as a series of standalone stories.
When an interpretation is in conflict with or departs from another section, it must be reined in and altered accordingly.
In other sections, the immediate context is useful in understanding the meaning.
In this story, one servant owes a large sum of money, whilst the other owes nothing.
If we look at this tale on its own, we could be inclined to focus on the amount of debt that has been accumulated.
In seeing Jesus’ response to Peter through the lens of the parable, we come to realize that we should not set a numerical limit on the number of times we grant forgiveness.
We who have been forgiven so much do not have the right to withhold forgiveness from other people.
As we continue to study God’s Word with the Holy Spirit as our guide, we will realize that God’s kingdom is the hidden treasure in the field even more clearly (Matthew 13:44).
Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/wynnter Madison Hetzler, who has a passion for teaching, is dedicated to encouraging fellow Christians so that they might be strong, confident, and educated in the Word of God.
Every time she gets to meet with people around God’s Word is treasured to her, and she hosts weekly Bible studies at both her church and her house.