The Parables of Jesus: Day 1

Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?

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Today's Text: Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:33-34

I will open my mouth in parables;
I will declare things kept secret

from the foundation of the world.
—Matthew 13:35

The Prodigal Son. The Good Samaritan. The Pearl of Great Price. You’ve heard the stories, but do you know them in their original context? In this 3-week study of the Parables of Jesus, we will read through many of the well-known—and not so well-known—stories Jesus used to teach hearers, both then and now, about how to live as His followers. Each day we will read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. In lieu of reading a devotional response, we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”

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Week 1: Parables about God’s Kingdom

Parables are stories with a point. They are designed to make us think about what is being said, why, where, to whom, and in what context. To get to the heart of Jesus’ parables, we need to pull them apart and take a careful look at the details He gives us. One detail that runs through this week’s selection of parables is that Jesus says they all describe the kingdom of God in some way. As you read through these passages, use the following questions to unpack the stories Jesus tells.

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Day 1 Reading: Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:33-34

Questions:

1. Today’s reading gives us not only a parable, but Jesus’ own words about why He used them. How would you summarize why Jesus spoke in parables? How does that help prepare you to read through them?

2. What situation or problem is addressed in today’s particular parable, and what is the outcome of the story?

3. What is the central point of this parable?

4. What is your response to this parable?

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  • Verses 18-23 seem to map my life. From ages 0-10 I heard but didn’t understand. 10-20 I understood but but it didn’t reach my heart enough and the world was more appealing. 20-50 I knew and the truths bounced back and forth from my head to my heart but with raising kids, financial concerns, health concerns, I relied too much on my own strength and failed miserably at all of life. I hit rock bottom at age 50 and I found Him there waiting. And God is redeeming my past! I know that the truth has hit my heart and from 50-100 are the years where He is going to use me to produce a crop of 100+!!

  • Megan Ellingson

    I began reading this thinking Jesus spoke in parables so that we could better understand the lesson He was trying to teach, but as I continued reading I began to understand a deeper meaning than just that. He spoke in metaphors that were so simple to understand that only the expectant hearts, only the open minded and the willing would be the ones to really understand the deeper meaning behind it all and those without that willingness would be left completely blind to it. In this specific parable I think Jesus is trying to get across that if we hear the word and what God is trying to speak into our lives and we take the time to dig deeper to better understand, then we won’t be left confused when the enemy tries to waver our confidence. If we always find comfort in the Lord despite how hard the season might be, then we produce discipline and endurance trough those trials and we find joy in the midst of the storm. If we seek knowing His word with a willing and open heart then it leaves room for God to do what He wants in our lives and we are left with nothing but roots so deep, nothing can waver our confidence because that confidence is in Him and Him alone.

  • Miranda

    Jesus spoke in parables because so many had fallen from God and were not fully prepared to hear His words of the Kingdom of Heaven. By speaking in parables those that were fully prepared to receive His words and His message and put in the time to listen and understand would be able to experience the full effect and allow His message to take deep root in their souls. This really helped me to reflect on how I read scripture and how I approach my reading of the Bible. I should come to my study of the Bible ready to fully immerse myself and expecting that not all of His teachings are going to be easy to grasp but worth the time and effort.

    In this particular story, the problem is that many are not fully prepared to receive His word, are not open to change and true commitment and belief of Jesus and His teachings. Those that have deep rooted faith and belief reap the benefits of Jesus’ word while those who are without faith or allow themselves to be tempted or distracted by earthly things do not. We must allow ourselves to be prepared for His message and have true belief and faith in all that He does.

    • Sabrina

      Hi Miranda!
      I️ completely agree! It astounds me how each time we read we see a different facet. In this case, the fact that Jesus was fulfilling a prophecy stood out when he directly answers the question about “why parables?” in verse 13.

      It was a warning to look at verse 15 and realize that the parables weren’t hidden from certain people because Jesus wanted to hide them but because the people had let their own hearts grow dull and had closed off their ears and eyes to the Word! They closed themselves off first!! We must allow ourselves to be open to receiving His Word into our hearts no matter what.

      14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

      15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
      and with their ears they can barely hear,
      and their eyes they have closed,
      lest they should see with their eyes
      and hear with their ears
      and understand with their heart
      and turn, and I would heal them.’

      • Tawnie

        I agree with both of your comments. It is so important to dive into the word of God and open our heart, eyes, and ears to receive what the Lord has taught. I find it fascinating that in Isaiah’s prophecy mentioned, Jesus’ ultimate goal was to “heal them” if they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart.

  • This parable is so important. Too often what we don’t realize is that we are not keeping our soil rich and ready for God to plant seeds in our lives through the word so the fruit of the spirit can flourish. This really helps me see the areas in my life that I have been ill-prepared for by not being in the word constantly and my soil not being ready for the words Jesus laid on my heart.

  • MISCHETTE FRANKLIN

    can anyone respond if they see any of my posts. my name is Mischette. When i post i cannot see what i posted.

  • MISCHETTE FRANKLIN

    this parable of the sower shows me what the condition of my own heart. can Gods word be planted and take root in my own heart enough to affect change in my lifestyle. where am i in my walk with in which the word of God can be planted in my heart and transform me in my situation until my situation changes. but i want my situation to go away asap and i dont like my situation however God is using it to change me in the middle of it. how do i respond to the word that im reading or am i gonna run from it cuz i dont wanna fsce me and face God as rhe word reveals my heart.

    • Hi Mischette, I want to encourage you to persevere in reading the Bible despite it not always making sense in the heat of the moment. God’s word is going into your heart, transforming you spiritually and as you continue to read you grow and He gives you understanding on a deeper level. If you ask and are willing to obey, he will guide you in all your decisions.

  • MISCHETTE FRANKLIN

    Im not sure how to interpret anything in the Word of God. The parables of Jesus are great stories but that all they are to me…GREAT STORIES! I have a burning desire to get to know God through His Word and to hear and know his voice so i do my best to read and ask God to give me revelation of the Word in which He is speaking 2 me through but I get discouraged cuz IDK how to apply it to anything im currently dealing with and how Gods word is gonna fix the problem at hand. so even when i dont understand i just keep reading with hope that the holy spirit will reveal and ill get it someday.

  • Jesus spoke in parables to show us the spiritual truth of His word. This spiritual truth is not available to those who have not a heart prepared to believe, seek and understand. Our hearts can be in the condition, as which is described in the condition of the seed in the soil, which left untended is to live fettered in sin. I can take a heart of hope because for when I believe, repent, and spend time in the Word, Jesus will explain it all to me, as he did the disciples, and His word will rest on fertile soil.

  • Lauren Jackson

    I love that Jesus loves us enough to teach us in parables. The ways and truths of God are often beyond our earthly understanding, yet Jesus put it into an earthly perspective to help us understand it. It is so easy for us to get lost in the meaning of things, why some do not receive the Gospel and others do for instance. Thankfully, Jesus showed us that we can understand these things, just as the people then understood the sowing of seeds.

  • Allison Joy

    I think reason Jesus spoke in parables is that He wanted there to be some effort on our part to want to understand and to seek Him ourselves. It’s kind of like how when we were kids, we’d ask our parents or teacher a question and they’d make us work it out ourselves, because it helps us grow.

    One interesting thing I noticed is that while the parable about the soil is primarily about the gospel and people’s response to it, especially when taken in context of Jesus’ life, where not everything had been revealed, it’s almost a parable about parables, and could be taken to describe the response of people to Jesus’ parables.

  • I love that this study has started off with this parable. It’s so easy to fall into the “rocky soil” category and get on a spiritual high after hearing a great message or attending an event, but it is so important to prepare your heart and life to be good soil that can support the roots you develop through reading God’s word and being in community! By doing so we have so many opportunities for His love and truth to flow out of our hearts and mouths and help establish fertile soil in those around us as well!

    PS- I’ve commented here on the website after doing today’s lesson in my book, but is there a way to do so on the app? I’m a newbie.

    • Ebony

      I love this perspective! I couldn’t agree more.

    • Jessica

      I’m reading your comment on the app so if you post on the website it must show up on the app as well!:))) love you comment too!

  • Sometimes I wonder if it maybe is just not the right time that the person heard the message. Coming from a farming community, I think of a new piece of land that has to be cleared and worked and the rocks picked up and worked and the weeds pulled and so forth before it really becomes ready to produce. Just a thought.

    • Beth

      That is a great thought. I’m not from a farm, but my understanding is that seeds can lie dormant and only with the sun’s warmth, watering and time will it sprout. Sometimes people are not ready to hear, but if the seed is planted it may begin to grow in God’s time.

  • Veronica

    Today’s parable is about how all of us accept and follow the words of Jesus.Some of us hear the words but are confused by what we hear.I sometimes struggle to understand his word but by praying and meditating on it becomes clearer.

  • Emily M

    So excited about this study and having a Q & A section – although I do miss those amazing devotionals!

  • Kristen

    I love this parable! I was actually asked by my pastor to give a sermon on it earlier this year as he was going to be away on weekend. It made me really analyze which seed/type of ground I was in particular which helped me decide how I wanted to move forward with my faith. I was able to target new techniques and get myself in the mindset of continuously following Christ and getting excited about my faith even after the high of Sunday worship wore off. The Bible is so difficult to understand but if we just Trust and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open to HIm, He will show use exactly what we need to see.

  • Katelyn

    I love that Jesus interrupts the parable to explain why he is using it. He recognizes that those without salvation, without God and the spirit of truth, cannot understand the things of the spirit. But he makes the gospel so accessible. Jesus came to earth to make himself accessible to everyone, and made sure when he spoke of salvation and the things of the spirit he spoke in a way that people could understand. He never waters down truth, but always presents it in ways so everyone can hear and receive it if they choose to. So cool.

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  • 1. Human ears hear many sounds, but there is a deeper kind of listening that results in spiritual understanding. Jesus was not hiding the truth from sincere seekers, because those who were receptive to spiritual truth understood the illustrations. To others they were just stories without meaning. It helps me prepare by staying receptive to the supernatural messages.
    2. How easy it is to agree with Christ with no intention of obeying. It is easy to denounce worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth, and still do nothing to change our ways. In light of eternal life with God, are your present worries justified? If you could have everything you want but forfeited eternal life with God, would those things be so desirable?
    3. The four types of soil represent different responses to Gods message. People respond differently because they are in different stages of readiness. Some are hardened, others are shallow, others are contaminated by distracted worries, and some are receptive.
    4. To continue to strive to be spiritually open to receiving when reading the Word or when doing anything in life really.

    • Kristina

      Thank you Jenn for sharing your answers. It helps to see others response ofGods truth and know that we are all able to understand. And maybe help guide others in the right way.

    • Candy

      Thank you Jenn. That helped my understanding a lot!!

    • Elle

      Great answers! Definitely some food for thought! Number 1 and 2 especially made an impact. God bless!

  • Such a good question! I’ve never really thought about the why of parables before other than a basic assumption that it was so make things easier for people to understand by using agricultural metaphors that the people back then would have been familiar with. But the idea that they are to to help distinguish in some way between who does and doesn’t understand or to help you understand on a deeper level is really interesting. Maybe the parables help to act as fertile soil to really help us understand the meaning. Like how a poem or a story is much easier to remember than just a list of things you should do. There’s also the whole Zen Koan thing and I’m sure lots of religious traditions use metaphors and stories. It would be interesting to see on an MRI if hearing a parables activates different parts of your brain than just a straightforward command to do something!

    • Mandy

      Love your response Nea!! This is great thinking material to take it deeper. Thanks for sharing!

  • I can’t speak for anyone else but I can say of all the lessons I heard growing up, the parables are the ones I remember the most. Maybe because I didn’t understand them at the time, maybe because they intrigued me, or maybe I just wasn’t really listening at the time. But, whatever the reason, they were implanted deep within my brain somewhere and come out often until I finally got it. Or maybe partially got it, because I feel that I still have more to learn from them and I love learning. Always have. Point being, if the people of the time were not ready to understand, the seeds were planted and would sprout at a later time when they were ready or when they really needed them. Just my thoughts. What say you?

  • After reading this parable for the umpteenth time, I’m struck by something that I’ve never really thought about before: sometimes, I’m the one sown on rocky ground when it comes to God’s word. I hear a message in church or read something or listen to something that I love. But then, life gets busy, things get stressful, or I get pulled in another direction and completely forget what I’ve learned. Today, I pray that I can keep God’s teaching in the forefront of my mind throughout the day. After all, they’re ultimately given to us to make like better.

    • Genesis Maas

      I was asking myself the same question which seed am I?

      I tend to be seeds 2,3.. I want to be seed 4.

  • AimeeJoy

    What I love about this parable is the way God remains in power even when the “devil comes and snatches the seed away” that fell upon infertile soil. God remains in power because, when the plant falls over and dies because it is in infertile soil, the plant’s decomposition begins to slowly make the soil fertile. When farmers are first beginning to plant crops, if they use natural methods (no chemical ferilizers etc..) then they have to wait through seasons of the plants not producing much or any fruit, dying, and giving nutrients to the soil. After some seasons of this cycle, the soil will be fertile enough to finally produce crops. So although it seems that God’s word CAN’T be planted in certain areas, it is actually an opportunity for that soil to slowly become fertile.

    • Sarah Rosangela

      I love this analysis!

      • Holly

        I never thought of it this way. That is so beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing your insights. I always feel awful for the first group described in this parable as if it was a total waste but with your insight I am reminded that God uses everything and everyone to achieve His ends. I know that in my heart but forget it in my brain. Thanks.

    • Miranda

      I love this as well. It is comforting as I look back in the many times it has taken to fertilize my soil.

  • 1.a.) How would you summarize why Jesus spoke in parables? This is tricky. He says He spoke in parables because some would understand and some would not. So apathy? “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” . . . to me, it sounds like, “well if they are not going to hear or understand, why bother?” but I think maybe its the effort or pursuit part that makes the difference. Just like we are doing here. Lets untangle this and understand it, where as another might brush it off and say “I don’t understand, next!”

    1.b.) How does that help prepare you to read through them? :) Makes me pay more attention!

    2. What situation or problem is addressed in today’s particular parable, and what is the outcome of the story? The problem is where the seed (the Word of God) is landing and what happens to it. It draws my attention to how well (un-well?) I read Scripture or what I tend to brush over. The outcome is that if you dont have good soil (predestination?grace?), then the Word isnt going to grow in you.

    3. What is the central point of this parable? Make your soil good. This involves responsibility on our part to keep pulling the weeds, watering, sunshine, etc,. God ultimately makes it grow.

    4. What is your response to this parable? A sharper attention drawn to how I receive and process the Word.

  • Caroline

    I’m so looking forward to delving into the parables… When I hear these stories, I always feel like I’m transported back to my childhood Sunday school classes – and in certain ways, I really am. Sometimes I feel like the parables are a reminder that the wisdom and truths of God are so far beyond human comprehension that they have to be broken down for us, because our brains simply cannot manage the immense realities of God’s plan. Jesus knew there was no way for us to truly understand, so He had to break it down for us to hear in ways we could comprehend. We are not so different from little children in Sunday school, except that now I find my adult mind wants to work even harder to try and logic and reason through divine truths that simply don’t fit those molds… I’m praying that throughout this study, I can turn off my constantly-questioning-adult-human brain and revisit these stories with a more simple, seeking heart, ready to hear the truths within.

    • CJ

      Me too Caroline! :) <3

      "because our brains simply cannot manage the immense realities of God’s plan . . . my adult mind wants to work even harder to try and logic and reason through divine truths that simply don’t fit those molds"

  • We’ve just had a baby and have struggled with going back to church, especially with all the people that want to tell you how to raise them and seem to know better than you. Our church, though, as reminded last Sunday, is there to uplift and grow us as Christians. It is certainly there to teach Jesus, and it is a place that we should be at as much as we can. This kind of environment is where God wants us to grow our faith -in good, nutrient-rich soil, full of his Word and the Holy Ghost. Reading this passage this morning helped me remember that my church is an environment such as this and we need to plant our roots deep in it so that they will grow and we can reap the reward in OUR lives and in our little boy’s life.

  • This passage came up in my personal bible reading a few days ago. It was focused on in the sermon at church yesterday and it is here today. I think God may have a point to make! Each time, it’s the “hundred, sixty, and thirty fold” that jumps out at me. Am I seeing a crop? Is there fruit to my faith? I know at times we may not see the work that God is doing through us but I must continually ask myself – is my seed sprouting a harvest or am I being choked out by all the distractions in my life? I spend time fostering my personal relationship with God but it’s maybe not actually growing and healthy if it is not producing fruit.

    • Sarah Rosangela

      I love your question “am I seeing fruit to my faith?” going to ask myself this more often.

  • I really needed this today. I’ve been struggling to hear His love lately and this parable reminds me that I can’t just pick it up off the ground and be satisfied. I have to dig down my roots into the good soils of His grace and understanding to get to where He wants me to be. This makes me wake up and put one foot forward in the right direction again.

  • Wendy Garner

    I read the passage in several translations this morning (NAS, MSG, AMP, MOUNCE Greek). Something jumped out at me. When our hearts are hard and unreceptive/unresponsive, sometimes a story will get through/break through when apologetics or a sermon will not. Reading the different translations, I believe Jesus desired for the people listening to have soft hearts (good soil), open ears and eyes. A parable may hide the meaning when we are being hard-hearted and don’t care, but it also can break through without us realizing and unexpected plants can shoot up that broke through and escaped the birds and weeds. This parable humbles me and drives me to my knees to pray for a soft heart to the things of God. Jesus loved all those He spoke to and eagerly desired for each to have an open, willing heart. We cannot understand the ways of God, but He is tender and compassionate and longs for us to turn to Him as the last verse in the passage says.

    • Cassie Kendall

      I love this, and I definitely think it is so true! I especially think of David and the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12 where Nathan tells a story to expose the sin of David’s affair with Bathsheba. I don’t think at that point, David was very open to repentance and dealing with what he had done. But Nathan opened his eyes with that story and drove him to true repentance.

    • Bree

      Not to get hung up on something you weren’t focusing on, but can you tell me more about MOUNCE Greek as a translation of the Bible you appreciate? I think I understand the point but why do you enjoy it? And how do you find it the most beneficial? I am so intrigued :)

      • Wendy Garner

        I go to Bible Gateway and select it once I look up the translation. I like seeing for myself the Greek words under the English words. I do no read Greek, so I like to see the sentence structure/word order and be aware of what the different choices Bible translators made. All Scripture is God-breathed, but different translations have different goals (getting thr big picture, original intent across, making it more understandable for your average, modern reader, or literal word-for-word translation even when awkward). I feel when I prayerfully read some of each, I get a better picture of the passage. :)

    • Miranda

      “This parable humbles me and drives me to my knees to pray for a soft heart to the things of God.” Just beautiful Wendy Garner

  • “Matthew Henry says parables make the things of God ‘more plain and easy’ to those willing to be taught, and ‘at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who [are] willfully ignorant.'” Lord, I am willing to be taught.
    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/purpose-parables/

  • Churchmouse

    I want to be good ground so that the seed of His Word would take strong root and produce good fruit. Am I applying enough fertilizer? I get up and read His Word but do I also study it – look at other sources, commentaries? Do I talk about what I’m reading with those who can give additional insight? Am I faithful to draw out a personal application to my life and do I follow through in my actions? Do I share the gospel with others? Good hard questions for reflection for myself this morning.

    • Karen S

      Good questions Churchmouse, not only for you but also for me. Thank you for your thoughts as they usually mirror mine, you just have a great way of wording them.

    • Miranda

      Exactly the things that I am pondering in my heart Churchmouse. I want to be good soil, holding on. I matter what until there is a harvest.

  • Parables are an excellent and memorable teaching tool. As our Maker, God knows our psychology, that we seek understanding and crave deep connection to Him. I think this is why He gave us a set of timeless parables. We can look at them in each phase of life and every step in our journey with Him, and learn something more every time. Praise God for giving us everything we need before we know we need it.

  • I love the way Jesus takes the gospel down to a level that even peasant farmers could understand. Back then, most folks would have understood planting seeds. This was HIS way of making Gods word relevant to common people. As a farmer myself, this is one of my favorites….still perfect so many, many years later.

  • I love the way this new study is set up!! The questions are AWESOME!!! A great way to hold accountability and keep active our pursuit!!
    Question 1) I believe Jesus spoke in parables because they separate the genuine from the deceptively ingenuine and help us to see through Christ’s eyes not our own filters. My heart’s desire is to be genuine and to always see through the unfiltered eyes of Christ, but I know I struggle daily to do this. Pride and ego are the reasons why I do struggle. Forgive me Father.
    Question 2) The situation is knowing the “soil” of your own heart and being wise enough to only invest your time in that which gives Glory to God!! The outcome is KNOWING that God will ALWAYS surpass our expectations!!!
    Question 3) The point of this parable is to keep us accountable and to give us wisdom beyond the paradigm we choose to live in.
    Question 4) My response is to draw closer to God and to be more aware of my actions, thoughts and works. Are they for my glory or for God’s.. A question I will now be asking myself daily!!

    • PursuedByHim

      Draw closer to God! Excellent point! Everything I have been reading, studying and hearing lately has emphasized that if you want to draw close to God, read and study the scriptures…because they are His words! What a privilege to have a written Bible. What a privilege to be spoken to by God through His scripture. What a privilege to be able to speak directly to God in prayer!

    • CathrineAnne

      Thank you, ERB, for sharing your answers. They gave me a deeper understanding of this parable and insight into areas in which I could grow.

  • Willonda McCloud

    I am looking forward to this study. I love that you can read these parables over and over, year after year. and then one day, God unpacks one just for the situation you are currently facing. Praise Him!

  • Elisabeth

    I struggle with VV. 11-12: “He answered: ‘Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from Him.'” What does that mean? Didn’t Jesus come for everyone? Why does God allow that some ears stay closed, and why does he “take away” from some people? I’m looking forward to your insights on this subject!

    Also, I just want to say how much I love the current study book. I struggled a bit with “digging deeper” and my reading was often quick and superficial. I love using the worksheet to really grasp the meaning of the parable and I am really looking forward to the following weeks.

    • ERB

      I think those verses are talking about two different kingdoms. This decaying world’s and God’s perfect world. God desires NONE should perish!! We are His Beloved, but He is not always ours.. We must choose daily where we “plant our seeds” and understand why we are planting them there. Is it for God’s Glory or our own… Hope this helps. Xoxo

    • Lizzieb85

      Only God knows our hearts. Yes, God desires for none to perish, but Jesus knew that most of those people were not true seekers. Most just wanted miraculous healing, etc… Even if Jesus did not use parables, the people who had no interest in the Truth wouldn’t “get it” anyway. I’ve heard it explained that those who were true seekers would search out the meaning thereby making them a disciple (“disciples” often refers to more than just the “12”- there were many disciples, those who truly followed Jesus).

    • Veronica

      I wondered about that passage as well- but I found the Message version to give me some clarify on these words that seem counter to the gospel: “Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again…”

      I encourage you to read the whole chapter in the message if that’s your jam- I found it to add some really good context and fill up those parts of my heart that had questions. ❤️

    • Lyn

      I agree that these verses are hard to understand. To me they have the same meaning as the saying, “Don’t cast pearls before swine.”

      • Lyn

        Matthew 7:6 contains the admonition against casting pearls before swine.

    • ~Amy F.~

      You are absolutely right that Jesus came for everyone! God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The message of the gospel has been given to every person: “The true light…gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). The thing is, every person chooses what they’re going to do with that message. I noticed something in v15 that helped me understand this concept: “their eyes they have closed”. These people have CHOSEN not to understand God’s Word. They have CHOSEN not to receive it. Every time we hear the Word of God, we choose what we’re going to do with it, and these people chose to reject it. I believe vv11-12 mean that God does not continue to reveal His Word to people who are choosing to reject it. If we want to understand God’s Word, we have to receive it. “Whoever has” refers to people who have some understanding of God’s Word because they have chosen to receive it. “Whoever does not have” only lacks understanding of God’s Word because she has chosen to close her eyes, ears, and heart to God.

      Romans 1 gives an example of this principle as seen in the lives of the unsaved. The gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (v16), but people chose to ignore God and worship His creation instead (v21). “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind” (v28). God allows these people to be consumed by their sin BECAUSE they first chose not to acknowledge God. God is not unjust; He is not playing Russian roulette with people’s hearts, randomly picking some to have hardened hearts. People’s hearts remain hardened because they chose to harden them. Romans 1 is referring to unbelievers, but obviously those of us who have trusted Christ still choose to harden our hearts to God’s Word at times, and I’m sure we’ve all noticed that it can be almost impossible at times to understand His Word when we are hardening our hearts against Him in some way!

      • Ebun

        This is so true. I’ve often found that there are some pastors whose teachings and words I struggle to grasp because I’ve already determined in my heart that I don’t like their style of preaching. When I do this, I don’t receive anything. Praying to God to forgive me of this shortcoming of mine as it was my decision to close my eyes, ears and heart to what He had in store for me then.

  • This parable often makes me tear up because I often feel like I don’t understand what’s being said in the Bible. I feel blocked from true understanding. So what does that say about me?

    • Mandy

      Dana,
      Just some encouragement that even the disciples needed Jesus to explain (in very plain terms so they would understand) what the parables meant! These were people who walked with him, ate with him, spent time with him- and yet they still needed an explanation. I think fear seeps in when we read these words without cultural context, and without remembering that Jesus heaps grace on us for when we don’t understand something. The Lords heart is that we would seek relationship with him; I’ve always believed that’s part of why Jesus spoke in parables. So we would seek him for the full answer, not religion. The Pharisees had books memorized, rules down to the letter- but showed no love or grace for God’s people, or even God himself in human form, and Jesus rebuked them for that. His disciples didn’t have the same book knowledge as the Pharisees, but they had a hunger for him. Remember that God’s is the only standard you need to measure up to, and he has already declared you as pure and righteous and his daughter through Christ. Seek answers in scripture where you can, and in areas where you don’t understand, pray; seek Gods heart; ask others around you with more wisdom; and remember that He loves you the same whether you understand every parable or not, and that no person will fully understand the depth of His word this side of heaven.

      • Lowella

        Thank You Mandy. Your response pretty much enlighten my understanding on this matter.

      • Lynn

        ❤️

      • MamabearJQ

        Yes. This. This is so inspirational. And thank you, Dana, for asking. I have often felt the same. God’s grace and love is infinite and eternal, we need only to seek him with our whole heart. ❤️ So glad I joined this study! Looking forward to the rest of it.

    • Karen Wood

      We are all on our own journey with Jesus, each in a unique place on our journey. The fact that you tear up speaks of a soft heart. Be encouraged you are further along your journey with Jesus than you think and He will lead you through His love to a place where the mysteries of His word are unveiled to you.

      Keep your heart and eyes fixed on Him and through this you will come to a deeper understanding of Him. Don’t be discouraged because you lack understanding, press in for more and ask Jesus to open your heart even further to understand His heart even more.

      You are precious to Him and He wants to spend time with you unpicking His word and revealing His heart for you!

      Have a wonderful day and take comfort in the journey, it’s a wonderful place to be.

    • PursuedByHim

      Dana, I can see my life in every example Christ gave in that parable. I started out not hearing or understanding anything, but I heard it. Then I understood a little, but I didn’t pursue it. I look back though, and I can see God pursuing me.

      Then, I understood a little more, but I had so many other gods/idols in my heart (career, justice, money, appearances) that I didn’t have room to understand, but God still pursued me.

      Finally, I got it! I had ears to hear and eyes to see, and I had no clue the changes God wanted to make in my life, but He continued to pursue and teach me.

      God still continues to pursue me and I continue to grow through His Word. I share the joy His love gives me, but I still have a long way to go. I know He will continue to grow me into the Christian He wants me to be.

      If you see yourself in this parable, as I did in ever single step of it, take heart! Continue to look to God and He will continue to look for you and work in you! He loves you and wants you, and He will pursue you and grow you into the Christian He wants you to be. We all have room for growth in our Christian walk and will until Christ returns.

      Praise God for His continuing love and His enduring patience!

    • Lynn

      I agree. Been “learning” the Bible for 30 years but still don’t get it!

    • Alyssa

      Right there with you Dana! I don’t understand a lot of the time and I wish I did! Just trust in Him and where he is leading you.

    • bridget

      i can totally relate! when i read that even the disciples asked Jesus what the parable meant, it helped. my favorite version of this parable is Luke 8:4-15, it was the easiest to digest for me.

    • DebbieinAZ

      Mandy, what a great question. We all have felt the same way. Thank you everyone who responded. Every one of your responses touched me and helped me. I was going to comment, but instead, I received. Thanks.

    • Monica Hodges

      Dana… there is nothing about Jesus anywhere in scripture that indicates He wants to block anyone from understanding. Satan, however, absolutely does and will whisper into our ears that we can’t understand or aren’t being allowed to understand. That is a lie. There are things that may not make sense at times, but hang onto His word and His promises and understanding will come with time. Hugs to you!

    • Dana

      I can’t thank you all enough…those who replied with so much encouragement and those of you who said you can totally relate. My heart is full because you took the time to reply. I had a rough night last night and definitely am wrestling, but definitely not feeling alone…just loved. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart. <3 May God pour blessings on all of you.

    • India

      Everyone makes great points!! Also, none of us today can understand Jesus’ teachings without the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for those of us that would come after His resurrection. It moves and stirs in us, it opens the eyes and ears of our hearts to understanding God’s and Jesus’ teachings. I have often struggled too, but I have found that when I ask, pray, seek, and long for God to reveal His word to me, the Holy Spirit can make something I’ve read a thousand times, a totally new passage. It’s a constant process, and I’m always finding something new! Praying this for you today Dana!

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