One of the things I’ve struggled with in the Bible is the use of parables. Yes, they are great, as Jesus well knew to illustrate and explain a point. But as in the Isaiah quote below, it seems God had deliberately blocked them from understanding. In the big crowds Jesus tells the story of the soils and even the Disciples don’t get it. So what was the point?
It does seem that at the time (Still under the Old Testament Law) when the people and the religious bods, deliberately broke his law or overdid it and sinned, that one of the effects was that God then hardened their hearts not to understand. Again, what was the point? Surely he desired that they turned back to him? Or is this an Old Testament thing where God laid out the punishment as there was yet no reconciliation? Or maybe, if they had repented and turned, then they would not have plotted and schemed for Jesus death, which had to take place in the culture of the time.
Joyce Meyer says people always enjoy her teaching more when she talks about her own life, so maybe in those days people really enjoyed hearing stories that relate to them – about the land and agriculture around them. Verse 34 says Jesus used parables all the time, but did they get it? I’m still flummoxed on this one!
How often did Jesus preach from a boat or on a mountain? He showed all the skills of basic crowd control, maybe some could say that the crowd backed him into the water, but they stopped and listened. Have you ever thought how did they all hear in such acoustics? God’s voice!
The Parable of the Sower
1Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”