In today’s culture we have a need to draw people into the truth, without jamming it down their easily offended stiff necks. In Matthew 13:3 it says,
“He taught them many things by using stories, parables that would illustrate spiritual truths…” (TPT)
Jesus understood the power of invitation. He took the depth and breadth of the Kingdom of God, which is expansive, and simplified it into palatable, yet elaborate, illustrations. The very Word of God weaves a tapestry of pictures in order to make God accessible to those who are eager to engage Him.
Unfortunately, His disciples respond, ever so eloquently, in verse 10,
“Why do you always speak to people in these hard-to-understand parables?”
Essentially, they’re saying “Bro… what gives?” How often do we miss what God has for us because it doesn’t come through our religiously trained channels? How often does God want to use creative means in order to cultivate creative circulation in His children? Probably more often than we want to admit. And too often we try to win people to Christ with well crafted, yet stale, rhetoric that someone else has coined, with which we’re now trying to cash in.
Since when did Jesus stand up and give a “theological” reason for joining the Kingdom?
Matthew 13 is such an example of Christ doing the opposite. He told stories. Parables. “Illustrations of Spiritual Truths”. He didn’t hold people to a standard of perfection in order for them to “repeat after me”. He simply cast seed everywhere He went; hoping that it would settle on rich soil! Sadly, that wasn’t always the case. If Christ, Himself, can cast seed on hardened hearts, then that gets us off the hook of having to bat 1.000% on spreading the Gospel in our evangelism, preaching and small groups. However, wherever the seed took to the good soil, He came back and watered it with a deeper explanation of what He was saying; still in parable form.
It’s one thing to have picked up a revelation from Christ’s teachings. It’s another to go a level deeper. If there’s anything we can learn from Matthew 13 it’s this… Jesus gave a single parable to the crowd. He gave an explanation of that parable, along with 6 other parables to His disciples. The Lord isn’t interested in parable regurgitation. He’s interested in us, His brothers and sisters, understanding the fullness of what He means. The crowd didn’t get the extra sauce. Only those who knew how to ask, “Why?” (We know it’s the disciples who get the “sauce” because in verse 51 Jesus asks, “Now do you understand all this?” and THEY replied, “Yes.”)
This is me asking, “Why?” Hopefully throughout these posts, it will stir in you the same ferocious appetite that I have so that you can lean into the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Scripture memorization is beautiful. But what’s the use of tossing out some scriptures on a heart that’s hardened with bitterness, anger and unforgiveness? We’re just regurgitating parables and scriptures in order to make room for more resentment and doubt.
Confusion shouldn’t cause us to back away because we “don’t understand”. This is the issue with this day in age. If we don’t understand we run to our smart phones in order to find the meaning for ourselves; but the Kingdom of God can’t be found through google (as much as some of you may like to believe). A relationship with Christ looks like leaning in, past the discomfort of not knowing, and asking Christ, “What gives?”
Regardless of how rude our questions to Christ may come across, His response to us, as it was to the disciples that day, will ever be,
“You’ve been given the intimate experience of insight into the hidden truths and mysteries of the realm of heaven’s kingdom, but they have not. For everyone who listens with an open heart will receive progressively more revelation until he has more than enough. But those who don’t listen with an open, teachable heart, even the understanding that they think they have will be taken from them.
That’s why I teach the people using parables, because they think they’re looking for truth, yet because their hearts are unteachable, they never discover it. Although they will listen to me, they never fully perceive the message I speak. The prophecy of Isaiah describes them perfectly:
Although they listen carefully to everything I speak, they don’t understand a thing I say. They look and pretend to see, but the eyes of their hearts are closed.
Their minds are dull and slow to perceive, their ears are plugged and are hard of hearing, and they have deliberately shut their eyes to the truth. Otherwise they would open their eyes to see, and open their ears to hear, and open their minds to understand. Then they would turn to me and let me instantly heal them.
But your eyes are privileged, for they see. Delighted are your ears, for they are open to hear all these things. Many prophets and godly people in times past yearned to see these days of miracles that you’ve been favored to see. They would have given everything to hear the revelation you’ve been favored to hear. Yet they didn’t get to see as much as a glimpse or hear even a whisper.
Now you are ready to listen to the revelation of the parable of the sower and his seeds…
Matthew 13:11-18 (TPT)
Now you are ready to listen to the revelation of the parable of the sower and his seeds.