by Marilyn Ehle
“…they (are) ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding…” Mark 4:12
In using parables, or stories with a lesson, Jesus’ words often seemed obscure. Even his closest friends questioned their meanings and shortly before Jesus’ death when he was teaching them important lessons, they said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.”
But Jesus’ motives and methods were always pure; He did not then nor does not now keep secrets or play favorites. So why did He seem to imply that some in His audience simply would not “get the point”? Could it be that Jesus didn’t want certain people to be forgiven?
Whenever I am puzzled by questions such as these, I must go back to what I know about the character of God. He is loving, just, pure, merciful, forgiving. Since Jesus the Son and God the Father are one, I must dig deeper to catch a fuller glimpse of what He was teaching.
One Bible scholar puts it quite simply: by the use of parables there was the process of spiritual sifting that would be either eternally rewarding or eternally baffling, according to whether (people) had ‘ears to hear’…whether or not they earnestly desired to understand God’s ways… (Tyndale)
In my own life it works out this way: am I absorbing (earnestly desiring to understand) or am I atrophying (withering)? Even when I come upon biblical truths that are difficult to comprehend, is my attitude one of humble acknowledgement of my need? Do I truly “hunger and thirst” after more understanding? Or is my spiritual life in a state of atrophy—withering, without fruit, limp, satisfied with the status quo?
God is looking for people who are thirsty, ready to absorb all that He prepared to bountifully supply. Will I still have unanswered questions? Oh yes, but I know that God will give me all the answers He knows I need.
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