–By Elizabeth Ahlman
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand’ (Luke 8:9-10 ESV).
After telling the parable of the sower (“A sower went out to sow his seed…”) Jesus tells the disciples that the reason He speaks in parables is so that “others” may see, but not see and hear, but not understand. Say what? This sounds unbelievably harsh. But there it is. In plain type. Pop culture likes to tell us that Jesus was so open, so inviting. He knew nothing of “exclusiveness.” He was all-inclusive. He doesn’t shut anybody out. It’s just the “religion” that does that.
And yet, these words stand: “but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'” And yet, when the world says, “Jesus was just about love,” Jesus turns over tables. When the world says “Jesus wants us to be happy, so anyone can marry who they like,” Jesus says that marriage is for one man and one woman. When the world says “the Law of God no longer applies,” Jesus says that He came not to abolish, but to fulfill the Law. In the face of such utter hostility to the true Word of God, many in this world are condemned to death. They are given over to their blindness, and hear, but do not understand. They remake God’s Word in their image, blind to its truths and hostile to those who would speak it faithfully. The seed falls on their rocky ground and shrivels up and dies. And God’s exclusivity comes out: those who sin and are unrepentant, who see without seeing and hear without understanding, will not enter into the secrets of the Kingdom. They are lost and condemned. Doomed to eternal death. And we were once just like them.
The good news for us is this: We may, like the disciples, need to ask “What does this mean?” But we, like the disciples, have been let in on the secret. We, like the disciples, hear our Lord proclaim to us that we are those who truly see and those who hear and understand because He has made us so in our Baptisms. In the Church, through our pastors, He speaks to us His Word and opens to us its meanings. In the Church, through the Lord’s Supper, He initiates us into the secrets of the kingdom of God as He feeds us with His very own body and blood. Because the secret is this, plain and simple: Christ has died for the ungodly, and such were you, but now you belong to Him on account of your Baptism into His death and resurrection. You are His. You are IN. You are those to whom it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God.
And for those “others” there is also Good News: The Lord still scatters that seed abroad. He still throws it on good and bad soil alike. And then He tills that soil and waters it. He clears away the rocks and chases off the birds. He makes good soil where there was bad. He makes the blind to see, and the deaf to hear and understand. He makes a way, and He never stops working to bring all people to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, the Wisdom from God, grant us to always see and understand Your Word of truth so that we may share that Word with those who do not yet know You to the glory of Your Name; continue to sew Your seed in all places and turn the hearts of all to You so that they may see and understand and look on You and live; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- The parable of the sower is the Gospel lesson appointed for Sexegesima, the second Sunday in the Pre-Lent season reflected in the one-year lectionary. Read another take on this parable here.
- Another reading for this particular Sunday is Isaiah 55:10-13. Read a devotion on that text here.
- The Psalm appointed for this past Sunday was Psalm 84. You can read a devotion on that Psalm text here.