Monday, July 17, 2017

Kingdom secrets

The Sower - Artist unknown
The Sower - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 13:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "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.' " Matthew 13:10,11 NIV

We all love to be in-the-know. Here Jesus told His disciples, you are.

Though the parables appear to be simple stories which Jesus' listeners loved because they were so homey and relatable to life, they also hold deeper truths than what  appears to the eye / ear. "…secrets of the kingdom of heaven" Jesus called them.

[Secret = musterion  from mueo "to initiate into the mysteries" hence a secret known only to the initiated, something hidden, requiring special revelation. In the NT the word denotes something that people could never know by their own understanding and that demands a revelation from God. The secret thoughts, plans and dispensations of God remain hidden from unregenerate mankind, but are revealed to all believers" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Live Bible, NIV - Kindle Location 232,200.*]

Though Jesus told His disciples the knowledge of the kingdom had been given to them, they still needed Jesus' explanation, His "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means" (Matthew 13:18). As we read Jesus' interpretation of the sower story (the verses that follow today's reading) we see what kind of metaphor this was and how Jesus intended his listeners and us readers to interpret it from a literary standpoint.

But there is another level of understanding possible, beyond literary interpretation and to which Jesus referred when He said to the disciples: "… the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them" (Matthew 13:11).

What distinguished the you from the them? It was that the you—the disciples—believed in Him. They were open to the truths He taught and willing to line up their lives with them. The them, the crowds, the Pharisees and religious leaders didn't believe. Some were downright hostile.

Jesus goes on to describe these believers as those who had (knowledge, insight, obedience) and so would be given more whereas those who didn't have would lose even the little understanding they already possessed (Matthew 13:12).

Jesus' truths are revealed:
  • to little children - Matthew 11:25.
  • by God in heaven - Matthew 16:17.
  • to those enabled by the Father - John 6:65.
  • by His Spirit - 1 Corinthians 2:10,14.
  • "to the Lord's people" - Colossians 1:26, 27.
  • through "an anointing from the Holy One" - 1 John 2:20, 27.

As we study the Bible and read it's parables and stories, let's not lose sight of the supernatural help necessary to really get them. That help leads to understanding that comes not only from our heads, but also involves our hearts.

Dear Jesus, help me to be the kind of listener that has, and will be given an abundance. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission (*Kindle version). All rights reserved worldwide.

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