10 Then the disciples came up and asked him, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” 11 He answered, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. 12 For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 That is why I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, but never understand; you will look and look, but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back—and I would heal them. 16 “Blessed are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see but didn’t see them, to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.
As an educator, I have spent much of my teaching years explaining English grammar rules and interpretations in literature. That is why I love the teaching method that Jesus often used—parables. A parable is used to expand or to explain information or concepts the students just aren’t “getting.” In this passage of Scripture, Jesus was teaching people with eyes and ears, yet they apparently weren’t “catching on” to what Jesus had in mind. In verse 13, He said, “For this reason I speak to them in parables because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand.”
Have you opened a book and read several pages, only to find you have no clue as to what you just read? Or did you hear a sermon or lecture but were unable to summarize what exactly the message was about? This is precisely why Jesus said what He did and continued to explain and repeat Himself.
There is more to seeing and hearing than the physical function of the eyes and ears. Seeing and hearing also involve the understanding, perception, and application of what is being taught. Do you notice that Jesus said if we have the “secrets of the kingdom,” we will get more, but if one doesn’t “understand the secrets,” He will lose what he already has?
Does this seem logical? What was the point of this teaching of Jesus? In verse 13, Jesus warns us that we must listen and understand, or our hearts will become callous. But in verse 16, Jesus also assures us that our eyes and ears will be blessed if we do see, hear, and understand. Jesus further explains that there were prophets and righteous people of the past who wanted to see and hear but who didn’t have an opportunity to do so.
What challenge does this Scripture pose to us exactly? We must train our eyes and ears to fully comprehend the love of Jesus. We must challenge ourselves to share the knowledge we acquire with others who may not have understood it for themselves. We should also encourage others who don’t find meaning in life or who fail to grasp how the Bible is able to correspond with our present day-to-day situations and circumstances.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you really see with your eyes? Do you truly hear with your ears?
- Pray this prayer as you start your day: “Father God, please open my eyes that they may fully recognize and understand your will and desires for my life. Father, please open my ears, so that I may always hear Your loving words of guidance and instruction.” *
*[C. Melita Webb]