Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jesus intentionally confuses?

Matthew 13:10-15 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

In public speaking, one may share a story to bring home a point. In most cases, it is in order to make the point easier to understand. Preceding the above passage, Jesus told the parable of the sower. When asked why he spoke in parables, his response leads you to conclude that he does not want certain hearers to understand what he's saying. In other words those with dull hearts, whose ears are hard of hearing, and whose eyes have been closed, are intentionally confused. Otherwise, they may see, hear, understand, have a change of heart and be healed.

This does not make sense since preaching should yield the result of a changed heart. Jesus also said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Why would he now state that those who are healthy should understand but the sick should not lest they be healed? Why would he now more or less say that those who are healthy will become healthier but those who are sick will become sicker? There's obviously something I'm missing from this passage.

[Read Today's Reading in The Brick Testament - An Illustrated Bible]


Anonymous said...

If people were not taking that much notice of what Christ said i.e. simply paying lip service, and he didn't want them to understand 'mysteries', then why speak in parables at all?

Why not just leave them to get on with it?


doc said...

I'm not so sure we can conclude that Jesus does not want certain hearers to understand what he's saying, only that some will hear and some will not, and that through the use of parables those who do not understand will gain an understanding, while those that already have an understanding will gain an even greater understanding.

This is revealed by the part that says "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him"

I'm inclined to think that those who already have the knowledge of God within them will further understand what they already know, while those who thought they knew what God is all about will gain an insight from those parables which will dramatically alter what they previously held to be true, and thus they will 'lose' or 'drop' what they held as true in favor of the newer and greater understanding.

IOW, Jesus did come to heal the sick, and so those who are healthy will gain even more health, while those who are sick will lose the 'disease' they had been holding onto for so long, as they both come to understand the message behind the parables.

Jason said...

He is not trying to confuse people. When Isaiah says "lest they..." it does mean "otherwise". So Jesus is saying that if they actually paid attention to what he was saying instead of just going through the motions, they would hear, they would see, they would turn their hearts.

Honestly, the parable they commented on was not very confusing. The seed he is talking about are the words he speaks. Just as the seed will fall in all places but not yield a crop everywhere it falls, Christ's words are given to all but not all will listen and turn.

Anonymous said...

There's a good reason that Jesus does this. If you have a hard heart, and you just hear the message, it won't matter. You hear and then forget. When speaking in parables, he makes them think on it, ponder on it, spend time on it. Those that do understand will feel the point more intensely, and those that don't will think on it.