Intro: The other day I was trying to describe something complex in structure and layout to my husband, but I was struggling to find the right words; so, I quickly grab a piece of paper and drew a picture. There is an old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It simply means a picture can bring together complex or perhaps multiple ideas and convey them with a single image. Truthfully, the picture I drew as I spoke was a lot more effective than just my words.
The Old Testament is filled with words and images which form pictures that convey truth about God—the Creator of heaven and earth. The New Testament Gospels contain many lessons that explain truth by drawing visual word pictures. For example, Jesus told parables that brought together complex spiritual things and ideas so his listeners could understand the mystery of God who brings blessings, as well as judgment. Jesus wants people to know the love of God for humanity, as well as the anger of God against the sin living within. Human beings were created to bear the glory of God not the sin of the world.
In our passage today, Jesus is focused on getting clarity to his disciples—those who have committed themselves to his message and way to be in right standing with Father God [Gospel of Grace]. Jesus has spent a great deal of time speaking with the crowds and dealing with the Pharisees, but now he is specifically focusing on those who are listening to him and taking his Word into their hearts. When humanity seeks God’s will, spiritual understanding is released.
Jesus knows the hearts of those who are sincerely seeking him to bring righteous salvation from sin; their hearts return to God (which means a reversal in direction and living). Therefore, Jesus allows the disciples to receive the spiritual truth and understanding from his illustrations and parables. The parable of the four soils found in Matthew 13:1-9 speaks of sown seed in soil and reveals a separation of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [filled with living water] from those who are simply full of themselves [dry as dirt] (Mat 5:6). “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:6-7). Thank you, Jesus!
Matthew 13:10-17 NLT
10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”
11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets [mystery] of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand.When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear,and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see,and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand,and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.
Prayer: Lord, with all our knowledge of your Word, please give us understanding. As we seek you, we know you will provide the Truth for our hearts. Thank you for abundant life and our freedom in the Spirit. In Jesus’ name Amen.