Parables and Preferred Ignorance

Parables and Preferred Ignorance May 8, 2015

Jesus had been traveling and teaching for some time. Much of His teaching was straightforward, easy to understand, instruction. However, He came to a point in His ministry when He began to teach truths by means of parables; a short storied meant to illustrate a point, or points. Jesus continued teaching those closest to Him in the same clear way He always had; however, He modified the way He taught those outside His inner circle.

This change in Jesus’ teaching method puzzled His disciples, “And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables? Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” (Mt. 13:10-11). Jesus indicated that there was a clear distinction to be made between His true followers and everyone else. But, why was there a distinction made? What made His followers different from those others?

Jesus explained to His disciples, “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Mt. 13:12). Jesus’ close followers were receiving from Jesus. They were accepting His teachings as truth. Jesus was now telling them that the time had come to make a distinction between the way He treated His sincere followers and the way He treated the skeptics and unbelievers. There comes a time when even the most dedicated witness must stop throwing “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). In other words, there may be instances in our lives, as we witness to unbelievers, when we realize that the person to whom we are witnessing, has already made up his or her mind and further witnessing is useless. We continue to pray for those people, but we must focus our efforts elsewhere in order to do the most good for God’s Kingdom.

Jesus was no longer going to treat His opponents the same way He treated His followers, “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Mt. 13:13). By teaching this way, anyone who was sincerely interested in what Jesus had to say could, by exerting a bit of mental effort, figure out the meaning of Jesus’ words; the dedicated scoffers would merely ignore what He was saying and continue on their deluded way. Jesus knew that there were many to whom He was speaking that did not even want to understand Him, they preferred ignorance; therefore, He was going to alter the means by which He taught, thereby making it obvious who was truly interested and who was not.

This skeptical attitude, which continues today, was predicted many years before Jesus’ time, “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes…” (Mt. 13:14-15a). It is not that they don’t understand the truth, it is that they refuse to accept it. Jesus’ audience, as well as so many people today, has rejected the Gospel for so long that they no longer even consider its claims. This is what is meant by “hearing, but will not understand” and “seeing, but will not perceive”. They are actively, willfully rejecting the truth that Jesus is trying to teach. The same thing happens today.

Even though Jesus’ hearers rejected Him and His teaching, His offer of forgiveness for sin was still available to them, “Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.’” (Mt. 13:15b). Then, as now, it is each person’s choice whether to accept or reject God’s offer of salvation. God has done everything to provide us with salvation; but, it is up to us to choose to receive it. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mt. 11:15, 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 7:16, 8:8, 14:35).

Article by Robert Driskell

*All Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible

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  • Rust Cohle

    Jesus’ message needs rejected, because it is ethically bad.

    Avolos, H. (2015) The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics. Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd.

  • Without Malice

    So, I guess your Jesus (god/man in flesh, AKA an idol that might just as well be made of wood as any other earthly substance) didn’t really care a damn about saving anyone who wasn’t already open to his message. And the bible says nothing about him “changing” his teaching methods; Mark says he always taught in parables even from the beginning, while in John parables have gone by the wayside along with the sermon on the mount. But whether teaching in parables or plain speaking, his teaching never reach a point above the mundane and certainly fall far short of what you would expect from God himself.

    • Justin Vest

      It’s strange and sad to see the gifts that God gives us so mangled and abused by his creatures. Strange also, how those mangled gifts are so apparent in others while masked from ourselves.

  • Brian K

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster predicted your skepticsm. It said “though you speak the truth of my salvation, those dull of brain and cursed with astigmatism will neither see nor understand.” I fear you will continue to reject FSM and His Truth. At some point we must stop throwing meatballs before tramps. But you may still chose to be touched by His noodly appendage.

    • Facebook User

      So, you really think there is subsantial evidence for the FSM? Several historical eyewitness documents to peruse, the testimony of millions of people who have experienced his/her/its forgiveness? A personal walk with him/her/it as a verifiable (at least, to you) proof that he/she/it exists? If so, your faith is grounded and I salute you; however, if not, you would be wise to take the things of God seriously.

      • Brian K

        Do you really mean that? If I believe in a god different from yours you are OK with that?

        • Facebook User

          God has given you that choice, not me. Even after He sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins, He still gives us the choice, and responsibility, to choose whether to honor Him or not.

          • Brian K

            OK, so I’ll infer that you do not, in fact, “salute” me for holding a differing religious opinion. Which means you do not take the sacred texts of all the competing gods seriously. Perhaps it’s you who would be wise to do so.

          • Facebook User

            (Just an FYI, the comment about ‘saluting’ was sarcasm). I take my soul’s destination very seriously. I’ve investigated other religions (including atheism) and found Christianity to make the most sense. Then, after committing my life to Jesus, I experienced (and continue to do so) the most exciting fulfilling life I’ve ever known. All I’m trying to do is to show others why it makes sense to me and offer them the gift of salvation from God. I don’t get ‘brownie points’ for winning arguments. That’s not my motivation.

          • Brian K

            I take issues concerning my ostensible soul quite seriously as well. I was a Christian for most of my life, then came to find its doctrines unpersuasive and toxic, so now I’m an atheist. When I then get referred to as proverbial swine to whom pearls should not be thrown, I feel a need to push back at the fallacious arguments used to justify that characterization.

          • Facebook User

            Well, a true relationship with Jesus is neither unpersuasive nor toxic. So what you were experiencing was something else. There are too many professing Christians who focus too much on the wrong things and not enough on the right things; this often appears ‘toxic’ to those with whom they come into contact. I apologize for them. However, a real relationship with Jesus is the best thing you’ll ever know.

          • Brian K

            Ah, I was No True Christian. Let me leave you with a nice reference to spell out just how offensive that is.

          • Facebook User

            Didn’t mean to hurt your feelings (really). But, I still stand by what I said: a true relationship with Jesus is neither unpersuasive nor toxic. I don’t know the details of your story, but I know what the Bible says.