2019-05-24 Speaking of Riddles….

“All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables;
indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.”
Matthew 13:34

Some things in the bible sure make me scratch my head. There were times, in fact, when I was sure that my bible must have been misprinted. Today, we shall dive into one of these confusing issues because it fits perfectly with our topic yesterday. If I wasn’t clear, my conclusion was that we have far more people in church who are using up (wasting) vast amounts of resources at the expense of those who need it. I maintain that this problem will solve itself if we preach the full scope of the gospel, including the hard topics. Before long, the gospel – at full strength – will become unbearable and those who don’t believe will leave in droves.

Jesus didn’t one day just come up with the idea of parables. In fact, Matthew records, “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.’” (Matthew 13:35) Jesus carefully explained the reason for this to his disciples. They had asked about Jesus’ approach with the crowds of people.

Matthew 13:10-17 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“’”You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Have you ever really pondered this? Jesus spoke in code so that only some who hear his words would understand. Jesus was very intentional to exclude the vast majority from the meaning behind his words. Jesus proved that the crowd was there only to fill their belly and be entertained by miracles, so he drove them away with parables. Why? So that he might focus his attention and teaching to those who could hear and see. It is with this group, this small, select group, that Jesus poured himself into.

Now, this isn’t to say he didn’t preach to the crowds, but he spoke in a manner that they couldn’t understand. Isn’t this crazy? This isn’t what we do today – not at all! We wouldn’t think of this. In fact, we go out of our way to dumb down the gospel so that we don’t exclude anybody.

Jesus spoke in two settings, 1) with the crowds in parables or 2) in private to teach his disciples.

Can’t get around this one, folks.

So, let me ask you this. Where did Jesus – or the apostles after him – speak to the crowds? He went to where the crowds were, to the city streets, to the fields, to their auditoriums, to their synagogues. He revealed himself through the prophets. Where did he go after that? He met with his own – those few whose ears and eyes had been opened.

What do we do? We build big buildings so that we might attract big crowds to try our best to speak in a language that all can understand. We no longer go into the streets or other places of worship to reason with the world. “If you build it, they will come!” has become our modus operandi.

Is it any wonder that so few in our churches tithe?

We may need to rethink all of this. However, let’s not try to think without first seriously studying the hard lessons of scripture.

Father, teach us.

Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

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