Matthew 13:10-17 (ESV)
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
After Jesus’ parable of the sower, the disciples wondered why he taught using such stories because up to this point Jesus hadn’t used them as a method of instruction. The Greek word translated in English as “parable” comes from two words which mean “to throw” and “alongside.” A parable throws two truths alongside each other, or makes a comparison between something familiar or understood and something not easily understood. So why did Jesus suddenly start teaching in parables? Parables helped the disciples “to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (v. 11). By comparing something known to something unknown, the disciples would be able to understand a truth or idea unfamiliar to them. At the same time, Jesus used parables to hide kingdom truths from unbelievers. Since the Jews had rejected him, the parables became a judgment against them. They didn’t want truth, and now they weren’t going to get it. In addition, the prophet Isaiah was told by God that both his own message and the Messiah’s message would be as parables to the people. Many would hear, but few would perceive. Jesus let the disciples know God had blessed them as they were seeing and hearing what the prophets of the Old Testament pointed to.
The disciples were expected to appreciate the great honor God had bestowed on them in allowing them to experience what truly righteous people had longed for (v. 17). Stop and consider how much more blessed we are, since we live two thousand years after the cross! We can see and hear through gifted biblical scholars, the record of history, those who have hammered out doctrine, the ability to read, commentaries, sermons, solid churches, the Old and the New Testaments, the Holy Spirit, and the blood of Christ. We are truly blessed! If we are honest about all that we have, we must admit that even the “poorer” among us have a lot. Let’s stop fussing about and focusing on the things we don’t have, and instead be grateful, realizing that many who lived before us would have loved to access the countless resources with which God has blessed us. Take fuller advantage of the resources God has blessed you with.