Sunday, April 8, 2018

for those with ears to hear

The Word for today:
Mark 4:1-20
And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
(Mark 4:9)
A parable is a story from everyday life used to teach spiritual truth.
The Old Testament contains only a few parables, both in 2 Samuel: the parable of the ewe-lamb told by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-9, and the parable of the woman of Tekoah in 2 Samuel 14:1-13.
But Jesus used them regularly to explain things to his disciples and hide his teachings from the unbelieving.
These brief stories reflected God’s truth, but they are intelligible only through the working of God’s grace to those who were willing to listen. They are designed so that those who won’t hear don’t hear. (See Mark 4: 11-13.) Jesus explained this phenomenon, saying that the same word was delivered, but it fell on different soils.
Parables, then, often reveal as much about the hearer as about the characters in the stories. Many people were chasing Jesus around to see miracles, and not to receive spiritual truth. The parables ferreted out which ones were there for the miracle, and which ones were sinners there for the message of salvation.
As told by Jesus, the parables gave those with natural abilities (“smarter people”) no advantage:
But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, 13-14; cf. Matthew 16:16-17)
The parables contain much more than just a moral message. They give those with ears to hear (a desire to understand) an insight into the character of God and the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus carefully explained the elements of today’s reading--the Parable of the Sower--to his disciples. But many of the parables, which were often unexplained, run so deep that their full meanings have yet to be mined.

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