Hearing the Word

Key Verse: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”
—Matthew 13:13

Selected Scripture:
Matthew 13:1-13,
34, 35

MATTHEW CHAPTER 13 marks a turning point in the ministry of Jesus. At the beginning of his ministry we find him teaching primarily in the synagogue, as well as teaching all the multitudes who came to hear him. Now, however, we see him separating himself from the multitudes, getting into a ship with only his disciples while the crowds stood on the shore. (Matt. 13:2) Another marked difference in Jesus’ ministry is that he now, for the first time, begins to speak to his disciples in parables.

What is a parable? A parable is a narrative drawn generally from nature or human circumstance, the object of which is to set forth a spiritual lesson. Matthew 13 records seven different parables spoken by Jesus, two of which he explains. In total, there are thirty parables spoken by Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (there are none in John). In verse 10 of our lesson, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” Jesus knew that by speaking in this form he would ‘weed out’ those of the multitudes who only followed him for the miracles, or out of curiosity. He knew that for his hearers to understand his parables they would have to spend time in thought and meditation in order to determine the spiritual meaning. This eliminated most of the multitudes, because they did not truly desire to see and understand the spiritual truths that Jesus had come to teach.

In verse 11 of our lesson Jesus indicates that it was only to be his closest footstep followers, his true disciples, that would be given the privilege of understanding these deeper teachings. He says, “It is given unto you [my disciples] to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the multitudes] it is not given.” Jesus further states in the Key Verse that most did not desire to see or understand, and later (verse 15) points out that their hearts were not in the right condition to receive God’s Word.

The lesson for us is the same as it was for Jesus’ disciples. We must first have a heart that is in a proper condition to hear and understand his Word. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) Second, we must have a desire to know his message of Truth. Third, we must study and meditate on his words in order to understand their meaning. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Tim. 2:15) Finally, and most importantly, we have to take those things which we learn and put them into practice in our lives. We must become sanctified, set apart, by them. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”—John 17:17

What a privilege it is for us to hear, study, and understand the secret things of God! We echo these words from our lesson, “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet [a citation from Psalm 78:2], saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”—Matt. 13:34,35

Dawn Bible Students Association
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