“Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand” (Mark 4:9).
In public, Jesus taught only using stories and illustrations. His purpose was to conceal the secrets of the Kingdom of God so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled that the people will see but not perceive, hear but not understand and so not repent of their sins and be forgiven (Mark 4:11-12). Jesus also said, “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you” (Matthew 7:6).
I think it is difficult for people to understand God and his ways. Jesus’ disciples needed extra explanation in private in order for them to understand the parables. Even then, they didn’t quite understand who Jesus was-that he was God in the flesh. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been surprised when the winds and the waves obeyed him and the fierce storm went suddenly calm. They didn’t understand that Jesus had to die, even though he told them he would be killed. They didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead either. Even the disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t understand what the prophets had said about Jesus, so He had to explain it to them. I know for myself, it’s so hard to understand and follow God’s ways. We are spiritually stupid … stupid like sheep. So we need the Teacher to explain things to us.
But if we are so slow , why would Jesus want to make the secrets of the Kingdom even more complicated by concealing them in parables? Why wouldn’t he want people to understand, repent and be forgiven? At the end of his parable of the sower, Jesus exclaimed that anyone who was willing to hear should listen and understand. I think God presents the mystery before the people to see just who is hungry enough to really dig down deep to mine out the truths of God. The goal of all this is real understanding and true wisdom. Out of true wisdom, we will know God and to know God is to have eternal life (John 17:3).
And God really does want us to have eternal life and to live with Him forever. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). And Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). So God does love us. He is not some capricious cosmic ruler up there in heaven playing the carrot-before-the-horse game with us, dangling eternal life in front of us but keeping the truths of it a secret. But he is making more difficult than a cruise course in college where everything is spoon-fed mush that only needs to be regurgitated for the test. Learning the truths of God and his kingdom requires a willing heart, even a desperateness to know God and to do all it takes to understand.
This makes me think of the story of the Syrophonecian woman. She went to Jesus to ask him to heal her daughter. Three times Jesus resisted her. First he ignored her. Then he made some racist excuse. And third, he compared her to a dog. And yet the woman humbled herself, still trusting in Jesus. Then Jesus praised her saying that she had great faith and he healed her daughter (Matthew 15:28).
I think that God tests us sometimes to see just how far we will go, how faithful we will be in hard circumstances. He conceals his great truths because he want us to seek him with all our hearts, hungering know him and thirsting for righteousness. God hides his secrets from the ungodly, but He wants everyone to come to repentance. He tells us as much as we need to know that we should seek after God. And he has given us the entire Bible to dig through and search for truth. Plus, he has given us his Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, as we are ready. All we need to do is be faithful to seek Him with all our heart.
Lord, I am willing hear. Let me listen and understand. Holy Spirit, please guide me into Your truth today. Guide me and lead me. Help me to obey. Help me to understand. Help me to be humble and persistent like the Gentile woman. Increase my faith. Give me an urgency in my heart to pursue You and to know You. I love You, Lord. You have loved me first and I want to be faithful to You. I want to worship You in deep knowledge of You. Hallelujah!