Journal Matt 13 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Then the disciples came and said to (Jesus), “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, HEAR with their ears, UNDERSTAND with their heart – and turn, and I will heal them.”” Matt 13:10-15
Observation: What is behind “parables?” The use of parables by Jesus plainly states here that the intent is to provide some obscurity. Doesn’t he want everyone to hear the Gospel?
What do I need to know and understand?
Analysis: This is obviously background for the disciples. “Why do you do what you do?” The principle of asking and searching “why” is applicable for today as well.
Jesus could have been all “mysterious” and deflected his answer but didn’t. So, what did he say AND imply? “I will choose/select to give understanding to some, but to others I will cloud understanding.” And this is with purpose and not chance: “…but to them it HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN.”
Looking at the bottom of the scripture selection, there seems to be some guarded reluctance to give understanding freely from His Hand: “…lest (syn. “…for fear that…) they should see, hear, and understand (paraphrased) and turn, and I will heal them.” Someone could read skimming over this, and pull out, “Look!! He will heal them. Isn’t that grand?” But, reading Isaiah’s prophetic word, that thought does not convey the reluctance, the disinclination of the Holy Spirit to offer redemption to hardened hearts – not softened hearts, not surrendered hearts, but hardened hearts.
Jesus told another story related to this, that men could be crashing the wedding feast, unconverted: “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matt 22:11-14
Does God wish for all to “come to repentance?” Absolutely. But, being Sovereign God, he also knows that Man inherently resists God, opting for themselves a “form of Godliness, but not the substance” as being the best choice (c. Gen 3: “You will be LIKE God, knowing Good and Evil. Isn’t that the better choice for you? Go ahead, take a bite and be Equal to God…”). Therefore, God chooses what hearts to open and does not open all hearts.
That is the point of using parables.
What about me? I have ZERO idea of whom God is inclined to choose. That is why He wants me to know about His prerogative of Sovereignty and keep away from that line. Preach the Gospel without cost and let the conversions belong to Him.
Prayer: Father, getting a grip upon this intellectually has freed me to present the unvarnished Gospel. Please keep me away from “Gospel salesmanship” when it comes to You and the Kingdom.