“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.” Luke 8:9
The other day this line struck me as a rather un-Jesus-like statement. Why would He not want people to understand what He is saying? Isn’t He speaking to the crowds so that they will come to know and love God? Why does He say that He intentionally speaks to them in a way that they won’t understand?
Perhaps it is because Jesus, being so full of love for each of us, is always utterly respectful of our free will. He wants to give Himself completely . . . to those who want to receive Him. He doesn’t force Himself. He doesn’t want to make us believe in Him, overwhelming us with such obvious proofs that He is God and knows what He is talking about. If it’s obvious, how could we be truly free to choose to believe or not, to love Him or not?
Speaking in parables, Jesus can communicate to each person in such a way that if they are open to Him, to His truth, to His message of love and the call of conversion, they will be able to understand Him. The message “veiled” beneath simple, everyday images, will be communicated to their hearts, which are open and ready. They will receive His word, like a seed, which can grow and bear fruit.
On the other hand, because it is a “veiled” message, those whose hearts are closed, unwilling to change, hardened against His truth and love, will not be able to get it. It’s the heart that understands, not just the head. Intellectually, they may be able to comprehend the parable, but grasping what He means by it, is a whole different issue. If they are not open, if they do not want to understand, they will won’t. Far from being cruel or playing “favorites”, the Lord Jesus is actually showing great love and respect – even to those who will reject Him.