Matthew 13 is mostly a collection of parables that Jesus tells the crowd gathered to hear him. Why parables?
First we should answer the question: what is a parable?
parable n. A simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson.
Before reading through a few of these stories, I want to focus on verses ten through seventeen.
10The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
From my own point of view, I recall how fables with morals or lessons have often stood out in my head. If my mom or dad told me a simple tale often the importance of the life lesson would stick in my mind more than if I merely heard a "No, Susanne, don't do that!" command. Stories just have a way of helping us visualize things, right? And for some of us, this translates to staying-power..as in the life lesson stays with you better.
An answer like that would have worked for me, but Jesus...wow. Sometimes I find his answers even more puzzling. It's as if instead of answering the question, he raises more! (Which is great if you are one of those people who love questions more than answers. Right, Sarah?)
11He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
I can picture the disciples nodding their heads, "Uh huh...yeah." And Jesus keeps going:
13This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
" 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.'
16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Did you get all that? It has something to do with ears that barely hear, eyes that are closed, calloused hearts and a prophecy of Isaiah.
Does this mean some people want to hear the truth so they do whereas others are biased against it, so they miss out? Does this have anything to do with coming to God with child-like faith as opposed to "wise and learned" ideas of what God should be like based on our expertise and refusing to budge if God, in fact, reveals Himself to be different from our preconceived ideas?
I found verse 17 interesting as well. What did many prophets and righteous men long to see and hear that the disciples were now seeing and hearing? Surely Jesus would not have called them "righteous" if they were purposefully closing their eyes and refusing to hear the truth because of calloused hearts.
What do you think?