Parables As Divine Obfuscation

 And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND. (Lk. 8:10 NASB)

One of my pet peeves is when I’m not being understood, or more accurately, when I think I’m not being understood.  Honestly, it’s usually more accurate that I’m not being taken seriously which is not the same thing at all.  In fact, I confess, it’s probably a sign I’m being understood very well when people don’t take me seriously.  But I want to be understood, I want to be liked, I want others to weigh my words and find them powerful and effective, meaningful.  I want to “play the Great Man” as they say in 12-step programs (The Big Blue Book specifically).  Once again, it’s silly and selfish.

Jesus, on the other hand, intentionally hides His meaning.  He has truths about the Kingdom of God, and He wants to hide them.  Get that, He intends to hide them, it’s not accidental.  One of the basic grammatical structures we learned in Greek was the “hina” clause.  It is an ancient Greek conjunction indicating purpose.  In English it’s most accurately translated as “so that” (see it above?).  In other words, the purpose of Jesus teaching in parables is so that they will miss the meaning of what they hear.

Obscuring All But The Cross

Why would Jesus do that?  Why obscure what people desperately need to understand? Even the miracles themselves were, in effect, obscuring elements of His ministry.  They distracted people from seeing Jesus’ purpose of saving the world from sin.  In a way, His teaching accomplished something similar.  It was His teaching and His popularity that eventually incited the religious elite to kill Him.  He needed to die, in order to fulfill His purpose Jesus had to go to the cross.  Clarity on this point would have made accomplishing it difficult.

The Treasure Hunt For The Kingdom

But there is another reason I see for this divine obfuscation (besides my desire to use obfuscation in a sentence).  The reason is hidden in Jesus’ “Kingdom Parables”.  In each a secret or lost treasure is found.  The “treasure” can be understood in terms of knowledge of His Kingdom, at least in one sense of many.  In other words, the teaching of Jesus is obscured because that is the nature of the Kingdom, it’s hidden.  It’s among you, but unseen.  It’s already, but not yet.  It’s kind of like God in a way, Three, but One.  He’s funny like that, enjoying oxymoronic paradoxes to reveal His holiness.  This is just one of many.  Finding them is like discovering uncut diamonds along the path you hike.

Seeing Past The Obscuration

My point is that Jesus’ purpose is to invite digging, intellectual, spiritual, intentional, continual digging.  He wants us to dive into and experience His words, His teaching, His purposes, truths, and more.  People in church can be somewhat intimidated by these parables, but I believe they are designed to be our “happy place” of discovery.  We’re supposed to hang out in them and discover more facets of our Master, following His steps and patterning our lives after His design.  I say, let them challenge us! Bring it on! Dive in and discover the meaning hidden at the bottom.  Read, ruminate, repeat!  For to us has been given the mysteries of the Almighty God!  Let His Spirit enlighten us as we delve into the depths of the Son’s teaching!

Okay, headlamps on, ropes, picks, and gloves? Check!  Time for some spiritual spelunking! I suppose this is more of a view through the deep caves than a knothole in a fence.  But even so, what’s your view?

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