By O’Ceallaigh –
Our Thursday small group studies start again this week after a short respite for the holidays and we’re beginning our look at the Parables of Jesus.
I’ve read, perused and studied the Parables before, both in a cursory reading and in depth. But, this time, I’m trying to absorb as much as I can of the nuance of the scene and of the times in which the setting occurs.
In this very brief treatise, I will not deal with the story itself in any depth, rather with one statement which Jesus made, and, makes, with some repetition, throughout his teachings while on Earth, in one form or another. This is the general statement:
“He who has eyes, let him see; and he who has ears, let him hear!”
Standing alone the thought seems to be clear enough. Challenging it though becomes more interesting.
He told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
It is clear why He said that for notice what Paul confirms: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
So, why does Jesus use such a statement in the context of the parable of the Sower? The Sower goes out to sow his seed and as he casts it out, some seed falls on the path, some on stoney ground, some among the thorns and some on good ground.
Jesus then tells the meaning of the Parable and its symbols. The Seed is the Word of God, the various patches of ground are various hearers responding in various ways. The harvest, of course, was that which was produced by those who “heard.”
But the thought we’re dealing with – how does it fit?
We have to realize who His hearers were. They were a cross-section of dwellers in the Middle East of the time. Romans – military and civilians, Jews of every stripe and type, Galileans, Samaritans, and a multiplicity of foreigners passing through the country. All would stop to hear this Preacher in the field, by the wayside, beside the stream or the lake as He expounded the truths of the Kingdom of Heaven.
But the Scribes, the Pharisees and the others who years before were present and were queried by Herod when the Wise Men came to him from the East asking the whereabouts of the new King of the Jews; they, while they were acutely aware of the prophecies concerning the Messiah and even gave directions for the Wise Men to follow, showed their disdain – contempt – by disregarding the information themselves.
“Here began their rejection of the Messiah” for whom they had looked for 4000 years. (White, E.G.)
For these, according to Greek scholar Spiros Zodiates, “Since the Parables were given to explain spiritual truths, those who had already rejected Jesus did not have divinely enlightened minds with which to perceive these truths, and no amount of explanation could make them understand.” (Comments on Matthew 13:10-17, Key Word Bible;AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN)
Those, and perhaps some of us, are the wayside hearers who, even though they receive the word, it means little or nothing to them because the Lord of the word has slowly but surely been rejected and light ignored. Now, the light that is in them is darkened and they cannot tell the difference.
“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)
Think, for a moment, of being out in the woods of some desolate area around a campfire enjoying the warmth and light of the fire with a group of friends. Eventually, perhaps the conversation turns and you become disinterested. Your attention turns to the darkness around the fire and the sound of the woods at night. You decide to step away from the light of the fire just to the edge of its influence so you can see what’s going on beyond its perimeter.
As you move away, ever so slowly, your pupils dilate! The sounds of the fireside wane and the sounds of the night seem to be on the ascendancy! You press on a little farther. Now the light has less influence on what you see! A little farther you go; you can’t hear the chatter around the fire any more, just the night birds and the frogs!
As you press on into the darkness you begin to stumble over fallen logs and finally into a creek and you’re all wet; cold. You can’t see the light of the fire any longer. You can’t hear the voices of your companions. You don’t know which direction to go!
You’re lost in the darkness of the woods. Notice:
“Whoever it is that continues in the light and who responds to that light will receive still more light. But, whoever walks away from the light that is given will be continually enshrouded in more and more of the darkness around him.” (Zodiates, paraphrased, on Matt 13:1)
Walk in the Spirit! Walk in the Light!
If you do, Light will be added and will shine brighter and brighter to the perfect day in the fullness of the unmodified Spirit of God. (DA 671)