In the ministry of Jesus there were insiders and outsiders. Insiders had the ‘secrets’ of the kingdom given to them. Outsiders saw and heard the same external truths but never grasped them.
In Mark 4, having heard the Parable of the Soils, the Twelve and the others pressed Jesus for an explanation. The simple story was obvious, but what truth was hidden under the surface. What was Jesus really saying?
Parables did not make truth easier but more difficult to understand. Jesus told these followers,
“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.”
You understand. You grasp the truth. God has gifted you with the grace of understanding. Why? Because of the very nature of God. He is the God of truth, and He chooses to reveal His truth to some and not to all, not because they are more worthy, not because of greater intellectual capacity, but as a mysterious evidence that He is sovereign.
This ‘strategy’ is not new, but a fulfillment of prophecy. Isaiah’s chapter 6 is one of the most well worn ‘commissioning’ texts of the Old Testament. How many times have preachers asked the question Isaiah heard within the sacred walls of the temple – ‘Whom shall I send? And will who go for us?’ Isaiah steps up and moved with full consecration responds with two simple sentences – “Here am I. Send me!”
In response to this offer, the LORD anticipates a resistant congregation for Isaiah to speak to as he launches into ministry. “…this people” will “be every hearing, but never understanding; be every seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused;…” God’s people had plenty of opportunities, but they had resisted the teaching of the prophets, so God was going to shut their ears, close their eyes and remove any understanding of truth.
As Jesus teaches parables as part of his ministry, he too discovers a resistant audience. Yes, there are those who carve miracles and who swarm him with a desire for healing, but how many of these became followers? How many of them were swayed by the teachers of the law who ascribed the life-changing work of the Spirit to Beelzebub?
The disciples should be counting their blessings. They are on the inside track. They grasp spiritual truth. They understand the deeper meaning. And while they seek to know and follow the truth, around them are multitudes who resist the instruction God so graciously offers.
That’s the way it is today, isn’t it? The seed of the word of God is just as life-producing as it has always been, but those who oppose it and refuse to ‘turn’ and ‘be forgiven’ as they fully repent, soon miss God’s open door.