Our scripture this week is Matthew 13:1-17.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Later in this scripture (Matthew 13:18-23) Jesus explains to His disciples what the parable means. He tells them that the people of Israel have often fallen away in the past, which is why the prophet Isaiah warned that they were “ever hearing but not understanding, ever seeing but not perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9). The people had forgotten the meaning of the word of the Lord even though they heard it daily and saw the needs of others.
Jesus teaches in parables to make us think. God gave us the gift of intellect and reason and uses this teaching method to encourage us to engage the scriptures, to ask the hard questions and better understand their meaning for our lives. In order to fully appreciate God’s call, we must learn about His plans, not just for us but for all people everywhere.
If we truly and honestly seek the answers in scripture and pray about how to apply them, God will give us the guidance we need. If we ignore our spiritual lives we can wind up like many in Israel from times past – seeing but not perceiving, hearing but not understanding. Be involved with God’s word, pray about what you read and discuss it with those you trust to help. Through these practices, we are taught and saved.
Loving Lord, we are grateful for the gift of intelligence You have given us. Help us to use it to be Your people, aware of our relationship to You and our responsibilities in Your world. Amen.