We are starting a new preaching series for the summer . . . Kingdom Stories. Going to take the next number of weeks to look at some of the parables. Last week, I was asked to kick off the series by addressing, “Why did Jesus speak in parables?” Based on Matthew 13:10-17, I suggested at least three reasons.
First, because of the subject matter . . . the kingdom of heaven. Jesus had been declaring that the kingdom of heaven had come . . . that it was to be found in the midst of those who, by faith, submitted to the rule of God in their lives. It was something unlike anything they had been prepared for. So, these simple stories, founded on realities they knew well, would be helpful in explaining the dynamics of the workings of a spiritual realm they were just being introduced to.
Second reason Jesus spoke in parables? Because of his mixed audience. For some, those who, by faith, were receiving the kingdom, the stories revealed spiritual truths. For others, those Jesus called “them,” the parables were intended to conceal how the kingdom of heaven operated. Because “them” had rejected the King, the kingdom was not theirs to understand. Because they refused to respond to the light they already had, no more light would be given.
And the third reason Jesus spoke in parables was because of a kingdom principle. I taught on it last Sunday from Matthew . . . I encountered it again in one of this morning’s reading in Luke. Simple principle . . . huge implications.
“Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” ~ Jesus (Luke 8:18 ESV)
It’s kind of a “use it or lose it” proposition in the kingdom. For those who receive and respond to the light given, they will be given more. To those who do not, even the light they may have had will fade and, eventually, disappear. The way of the kingdom doesn’t know anything about a static status quo. Subjects of the kingdom are receiving, believing, and receiving more or, they atrophy spiritually. If we’re not growing, we fool ourselves to think that we’re remaining steady. To not grow is be withering. In the kingdom, if we’re not progressing, then we are regressing. If I’m understanding the King’s teachings correctly, that’s how it works.
“Take care then”, says Jesus, “how you hear.”
Literally, see what you hear. Not just receive, but perceive. Take notes, yes . . . but also take notice. Pick up what’s being laid down . . . catch what’s being thrown.
Now, illumination is not something we make happen based on how disciplined we are in listening. But the Spirit’s work of leading us into truth isn’t going to happen if we are not actively engaged in hearing and responding to the Word of God. Revealing the secrets of the Kingdom is God’s work through God’s Spirit, but the dynamics of the kingdom call for active participants in the kingdom to “have ears to hear.”
O’ that I might have ears to hear. Might I be kept from carelessly or callously receiving kingdom secrets. Instead, whether through my reading or by it’s proclamation, might I take heed and be careful with the precious Word of God graciously allowed to flow to my ears. Might more be given . . . might more be received and believed.
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .