One of the quintessential trademarks of Jesus’ ministry is that he taught in parables. Yet, so few Christians seem to understand the takeaways Jesus intended for people to understand through those parables. At one point his disciples even asked him, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (Matthew 13:10)
Good question. If Jesus wanted as many people as possible to know him, why didn’t he just make everything plain to them?
Most people don’t realize that Jesus spoke in parables to reveal the kingdom, not to conceal the kingdom. And what we come to know about the disciples is, (although not every issue was completely clear to them), they “got it,” while many didn’t.
In fact, when the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to people in parables?” what they were really wondering is, “Jesus, why do you use these stories with people? We get it. Why don’t they?”
Jesus answered, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
Essentially, Jesus was saying, “You get this, because you understand how the kingdom of God works. Others don’t. So, I tell them stories to illustrate it.”
Remember, Jesus spoke in parables to reveal the kingdom, not to conceal the kingdom.
Some people falsely claim that God gave revelation knowledge about the kingdom to Jesus’ disciples, but withheld this knowledge from others for a reason, or higher purpose. But that’s not what Jesus is saying.
Recall that that disciples were specifically chosen by Jesus to impart his knowledge of God unto them. So, why did Jesus choose the ones he did? How did he know which ones to pick? What was so different about Peter, Andrew, James, John and the others that caused Jesus to take note of them, ask them to follow him, and they did?
Although we don’t know specifically the types of interactions Jesus may have had with his disciples prior to them following him, the way in which they left all of their possessions, businesses and even family members, to follow a man who invited them into his space, demonstrates that these disciples were desperately looking for something more out life; they were looking for the Messiah. (John 1:41)
These men knew the scriptures well enough to know that the coming Messiah, promised by God to his children, would have the ability to right every wrong, and restore the nation of Israel into a place of prominence among the “tribes” of the world. They trusted God to be faithful to his promise, so they were on the lookout for God’s handiwork among them.
So, when Andrew heard John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus, and he along with his brother and partners witnessed a miracle at their business due to Jesus’ presence, they knew God was up to something with this fellow.
And it was this desire to find, discover, know, and trust God, which caused Jesus to take note of them, selecting them as the first disciples unto whom he would impart the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God.
Jesus affirmed this perspective with this statement;
“Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.”
Whoever has what? Will be given more of what?
Whoever has a desire to know God through the Messiah.
The precursor to understanding Jesus’s parables, therefore, is a desire and an expectation to see God’s promises fulfilled through Jesus.
To those with a deep desire to know Jesus, “more” of him will be given. Furthermore, they will have an abundance of revelation knowledge regarding Jesus and his teachings about the kingdom.
“Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them,”
Jesus added in verse 12.
Have what? What will be taken from them? Who is taking it away?
Those who do not have a desire to find (know, discover), God through Jesus, what little knowledge, revelation, and information from the holy scriptures and the prophets they do have, will be taken away.
And who takes this knowledge away? Jesus tells us in Matthew 13:19; “…the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.”
God does not take these revelations away for a higher purpose. The enemy does-to steal, kill, and destroy.
Although Jesus was planting “seeds” about the kingdom of God among the people, those whose hearts were calloused (v. 15), had a hard time understanding what Jesus was saying about God and how his kingdom worked. Nevertheless, Jesus continued to explain the kingdom to them throughout his entire ministry.
Israel knew the stories about Messiah, but couldn’t understand them. They even saw the ministry of Messiah (both in the past, and now before them), but could not perceive these actions to truly be the expression of God’s heart toward man.
But now that Jesus was in their midst, on display for all the world to see, he was compelled to keep explaining to them how the kingdom of God worked.
Jesus then encouraged his disciples by saying, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For 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.”
Jesus was saying, “Because you were intent on believing God’s promises, and hearing his truth, you are experiencing the manifestation of your faith. A lot of righteous people, and prophets saw me by faith, but were not alive long enough to see me manifest in the world. But because you saw me both in person (here physically present in your midst,) and by faith (that I truly am the Son of God), you are blessed.”
Jesus did not come to conceal or hide the workings of God among man. He came to manifest them in every way possible. However, only those who’s hearts are looking for God’s presence among men, will ever understand the concepts Jesus taught in his parables about how God’s kingdom truly works here on earth as it is in heaven.