Here we have three Scriptures of the same scene, the scene of Jesus telling the disciples the purpose of parables. As I would expect, Matthew uses “the kingdom of heaven” language and both Mark and Luke use “the kingdom of God”. Again, pointing to the fact that both the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are one and the same.
Let’s look closer at Jesus teaching the disciples the purpose of parables. In context, we will be looking at the following Scriptures: Matthew 13:10-17, Mark 4:10-12 and Luke 8:9-10.
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Those who have will be given more, and they will have an abundance. As for those who do not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For 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.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (emphasis added)
The disciples notice that Jesus speaks in parables as He teaches the people and that often the people are puzzled by the meaning of these stories. So, when they get away from the crowds, they ask Jesus why He speaks in parables.
I would note that a parable is usually a short fictitious story used to express a moral or spiritual truth. It can be a proverb, riddle, complex story, or extended comparison. The purpose for using parables was to get people to think and to both reveal and conceal the truth. I know that sounds strange, but I even see this today.
Look at verse 11, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” Jesus is telling the disciples that the truth has been revealed to them and in verse 13, Jesus tells them, “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” Here, He is telling them that this truth is concealed to others….to unbelievers. And He goes on to explain that this is just like the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:9-10.
Mark 4:10-12 and Luke 8:9-10 say essentially the same thing in shorter fashion.
I have noticed that people that I know that do not believe in Jesus, and even some that “culturally” believe, (were born into Christian families, believe, but may not believe with their hearts), that they have little or no understanding of the teachings of Jesus. However, those that I know that believe with their hearts…..well….they understand Scripture, they think about it, they wrestle with it, and they follow in the ways that Jesus tells them. To many, the Bible, the Scriptures, are just a bunch of words, a bunch of ancient stories that have little or no relevance to today……..but…..as I see people accept Christ in relationship, accept God in relationship, I see a transformation that takes place….to them, to us…..Scripture comes alive and is timeless!
I have seen that when we enter into an intimate relationship with Christ, talking with Him daily, almost hourly, listening to Him in our hearts and not only understanding His wisdom, but applying it, humbling accepting Him as King and Savior, longing for His presence, that we thirst for Scripture and delight in it’s teaching…..why…..because we are blessed with eyes that see and ears that hear.
Jesus goes on to say that even some prophets and righteous people “longed” (notice the past tense here) to see what the disciples saw but did not see it, to hear what they heard but did not hear it. Why would this be? Could it be that they knew all “about” God but never got to “know” relationally the Living God?
There was a time in my life where I “longed” to know Christ, to be close to Him. But, I still just didn’t “get it”. And I couldn’t figure out why. But then, I started to become close in relationship with Christ by trusting in Him and His will in my life, by talking with Him daily, hourly, every chance I got and by listening to Him by doing what He told me to do. I them realized that I had entered the kingdom because God, Christ, was king in my life.
Or…….could it be that they believe with their mind but not their hearts? Have you ever known anyone that believes because they figure that it’s better to be safe than sorry? Have you ever told somebody about a friend that you know that is just awesome. But those whom you tell don’t really understand how awesome this person is. But then when they begin to develop a true relationship with them they “see” what you mean? They now understand what you are saying?
What do these Scriptures say about the kingdom? I believe that they tell us that the kingdom is a closeness to God, to Christ, that is achieved through relationship with Him. It is both here in this world, and continues on into eternity in what we call heaven, the hereafter that is a place of closeness with God. I believe that essentially, the kingdom is a place of closeness with God in a relational way……from here through eternity.
Today’s CLUE: Jesus tells us that only believer’s, those who put their trust and faith in Him will understand what he has to say as He reveals the secrets of the kingdom. All others, though seeing, will not see and though hearing, will not hear or understand.
A reader, Christina commented:
“I’ve come to the conclusion that most people just believe with thier heads. They don’t have an intamite relationship with him.. because if they did.. they would have a great desire to please him. To look for ways to being right with him. There’s a scripture in the bible that says .. Even the demons believe and they shudder…I”ve pointed this out to people. and my children. Satan diffently know he’s real.. but he’s not making it to heaven. “
You make a very good point and I have often been drawn to James 2:19, “Even the demons believe and shudder”. Believing with the head is just that…..but believing with the heart, which means having a close relationship with our maker……that’s entirely another thing.
Another reader, Ron in Houston, commented:
“Now you read into this passage believers and non-believers. I don’t see it as belief. There are many people who “believe” who have eyes that do not see or ears that do not hear. There are also many “unbelievers” who do see about the need to spread God’s love. To me this passage is about the people like the Pharisees who go through life believing but not seeing the reality of their life. There are many modern Pharisees. I think Jesus says to them wake up and see clearly. I agree that the Kingdom is within, we just have to be able to see it.”
I agree that there are many who believe that don’t have eyes that see or ears that hear. That was precisely one of the points, I believe, that Jesus was making. I also agree that you don’t have to be a believer to love. Atheist can be good moral people in that sense. I have a question, what were the differences between, or what is the key difference between, the disciples (those He was talking to that Jesus tells that the secrets to the kingdom have been given to) and the prophets and righteous men that Jesus tells us “longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”?
I definitely agree that “Jesus says to them wake up and see clearly.” and that “the Kingdom is within, we just have to be able to see it.”. The question we are seeking an answer to is how does Jesus tell us we will be able to enter into this kingdom He speaks of (and of course, what is this kingdom He speaks of)?
My friend, Ron, commented again:
“I have no doubt that Jesus was telling his disciples that they were blessed to have seen and heard him. Jesus gave his disciples a radically different message than had been given by the Jewish prophets. To a Jew, the kingdom of heaven meant that God was going to overthrow Roman rule and reestablish Israel as its own soverign state. I think Jesus meant an inner spiritual kingdom and not some external place. His words were something to the effect of you can’t say “here it is” or “there it is” but that it is within. God is within, Christ is within. I think those are the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.”