Barry Newman's Blog

October 25, 2012

The Parables of Jesus (part XI) – The Parable of the Sower (part VI)

Filed under: Parables of Jesus,The Parable of the Sower — barrynewman @ 8:13 pm

Not Understanding the Parable (cont.)

In Matthew Jesus explains why he teaches the people in parables, because “seeing they do not see …” whereas in Mark and Luke Jesus explains that it is so that “seeing they may see and not perceive …” or “seeing they may not see …”.  Matthew has Jesus prior to this explanation making the comment that “For to him who has will more be given and he will have abundance, but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  This bespeaks of God’s judgement and what follows in the “because” statement gives the reason for God’s judgement.  Yet as one follows the Isaiah quote to its end the reason turns into a judgment itself. In the account given by Mark and Luke, the use of “so that” points automatically to that judgement, rather than it being a reason (see below).

Though there are differences among the Gospels, they are not substantial with the record in Matthew giving the fullest account. Perhaps the author of Matthew’s Gospel saw the importance of the quote from Isaiah for a Jewish readership many of whom would have known how Jesus had being rejected by many of their own kind.

The disciples obviously don’t understand the parable themselves. Perhaps by way of being indirect, in Matthew and Mark it is reported that they question Jesus as to why he speaks in parables to the crowd.  Jesus explains that there is an explanation for them but not for “the others”.  And blessed are they because they do see, they do hear, they do understand.  And their understanding pertains to matters that many in the past would have desired to have known but never did obtain that knowledge.  Yet the reality was that Jesus had to explain the parable to them.

The teaching of the crowds by means of parables is in effect God’s judgement on them for their already “disbelief”.  But who exactly in the crowd were coming under this judgement?  Mark makes it clear that it was not only the twelve to whom Jesus spoke these words.  There were others who were also there – those who had also attached themselves to Jesus and his teaching.  That is, those under this judgement were not all except the 12. And consider the following scenario.  Imagine that someone from “the crowd” happened to overhear what Jesus said.  He could have said to himself, “Well there is no point in my trying to understand what Jesus meant by the parable.  According to him I am already condemned to ignorance.  Alternatively, he could have become so anxious about his position before God that he betrayed his presence and blurted out, “Please help me to understand”  Would not Jesus have included him along with those others who were following him?  Of course he would have. But then from God’s point of view such a person did not have a dull heart, heavy ears or closed eyes!!

Behold the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man!  But let all beware of treating God with contempt imaging that in our own time and in our own way we will turn to God when we will.  We have no such liberty.  We must turn to him at once while we can.  Otherwise his judgement will surely fall on us when we cannot turn to him!

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