January 21 I Friday
“The disciples came to Him and asked, ‘Why do You speak to the people in parables?’ He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.’” —Matthew 13:10-11
Huge crowds often followed Jesus around and for varying reasons. Some wanted to see a miracle and be entertained; others wanted to be fed or to be healed, while others simply wanted an outing, but few were those who genuinely sought the truth and wanted to hear what Jesus had to say. On this particular day, such large crowds had gathered around Jesus that He got into a boat while the people stood on the shore. He then spoke to them in parables, which many found confusing and could not understand.
The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do You speak in parables?” Jesus answered, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you [the disciples], but not to them [the crowds]” (Matthew 13:11). He expanded further, telling His disciples, “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 13:12).
What the disciples already had and what the crowds did not have was the grounds on which they would go on receiving more and “will have an abundance,” while others, “even what they have will be taken from them.” In effect, Jesus was saying that these parables were going to confuse those who were not His disciples, undermining what they thought they already knew, but would add to the understanding of those who were His disciples.
What is the key ingredient that makes sense of spiritual truth? The answer lies in the relationship of the disciples to Jesus Christ. The first ingredient in the capacity to understand spiritual truth is not intellectual but a moral disposition towards God. The fundamental prerequisite to understanding the things of the Spirit is the Spirit Himself. It is important to note that any lack of understanding was not due to the teacher, but the hearer and was a symptom of their unwillingness to believe.
Jesus said on one occasion, “You do not believe because you are not My sheep” (John 10:26). The people’s incapacity to believe did not derive from an intellectual barrier, but from their lack of relationship with Jesus and their will to know Him. Alan Redpath once said, “Capacity to receive God’s truth depends upon the surrender of the will. Moral conquest of the will must precede intellectual enlightenment of the mind.” To those who had left all to follow Jesus, He could say of them, “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:16). It is our disposition toward Christ and our submission to His Spirit that creates in us the capacity to understand and believe.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, thank You for Your teachings. I humbly ask for a work of Your Spirit in revealing to me an accurate interpretation of Your parables. I want to know You more.