“Why do You speak to them in parables?”…[because] this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Mt 13:10-15
If God were a imperfect man I would call him a sucker.
In the book of Jeremiah, God was declaring judgement on a nation that had rebelled time and time again. Their rebellion had gone to the point where God was ready to be through with them. But, look what He says in Jer 3:
“If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again? Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me,” says the Lord. Jer 3:1
God uses marriage to illustrate His relationship with His people. He says, “It’s unlikely that a husband will want a wife back that has cheated on him with one man, but you have cheated on Me with many lovers… yet I still want you back.”
If this were a human relationship and this wasn’t God we were talking about here, we would probably say, “Hey man, the lady has cheated on you seven times; why do you want her back? Move on with your life.” I’m sure there are angels that have asked the Lord, “why do you put up with these people? Just wipe them out and start over.” But God says, “No, I love them so abundantly.”
Yet God is not a man, He is God Almighty, the great Judge of all the earth. And although He loves the world, He would be unjust not to carry out judgement on those that continually reject righteous. God must finally draw the line somewhere. After reaching out time and again, rising up early and sending His servants the prophets over and over again, God must finally say, “It is enough.”
And this brings us to the reason for the parables. In our title text, Jesus says that the reason for parables is so ‘lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.’ I’m not sure if you noticed, but Jesus didn’t always use parables. One of His first messages was the great sermon on the mount where He spoke plainly about the truths of the Kingdom of God to the multitudes (Mt 5). He goes on for three chapters with this enormous discourse about how one ought to act to please God. He then goes on to heal the sick and to cast out demons and to raise the dead. But what happens? He is still rejected.
Then he began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you…!” Mat 11:20-24.
It was right after this that Jesus began to speak in parables and continued to do so until His death.
So why did He speak in parables? “Because the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing. And their eyes they have closed…” (Mt 13:15)
These people had seen God’s awesome power and heard God’s word out of the mouth of His Son, but still they hardened their hearts and rejected them. They also had the prophets who had spoke to them for years. So God draws the line and says “It is enough.” And from that point on Jesus begins to speak in parables ‘lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’
Wow! Are you getting this?? What a strange thing to say! God is basically saying, “I have to judge these people, it would be unjust for Me not to. So I better start speaking to them in parables, or else they might see, they might understand, and then I would heal them.”
Why does God say this? Why doesn’t He just say, “Well, you all are a bunch of jerks and you’ll never do anything that could make me like you again anyway. Haha, I’m going spike you to Hell faster than you can blink!” No, no. Its the picture of a reluctant Judge that is doing His duty for the good of all mankind, even if that duty is against what His heart really desires.
It’s almost like God is throwing out a safety net for Himself. You could compare it to a man whose wife had cheated on him so many times that he finally says, “it is enough.” But in his heart he still loves her. He knows that if she came back again he might let his emotions get the best of him. So to avoid the possibility of this, he goes through certain measures so that she can’t find him or contact him. He gets an unlisted telephone number. He moves to a different neighborhood, ect. This, it seems, is what God did.
If you read the bible with the right perspective you will see that God is super abundant in mercy and love. He gives people chance after chance after chance. He has no desire to judge anyone, but that they would turn from their ways and live (Eze 33:11).
The bible says that God is love (1 Jn 4:16). He is the original source of love; so the love that He has is the greatest amount of love that anyone can possibly have. If you can think of the greatest display of love on earth, His love is greater. Do your parents love you? God’s love is greater. Do you love your family? God loves them more. Do you love your wife or your husband? God’s love is more abundant and pure than yours. Does your heart break for the hurting? God’s heart breaks more than yours. His love is purer, denser, more active, more consuming, and more inclusive than any earthly love could ever be.
Look at the longing heart of the Father through Christ:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. (Lk 13:34 NLT)
It may be that we won’t completely understand judgment of God until we cross over into eternity, but it is interesting to note how He, in order to preserve eternal justice, creates measures to avoid the pulling of His heart-strings. This speaks volumes to me of the tenderness of our Father’s love. Amen!
In a completely different vein, this also helps me understand the concept of the unpardonable sin. Some people believe they have committed the unpardonable sin and are worried that God will not forgive them for something they have done. But let me give you some reassurance. I can assure you that if you are worried that you have committed the unpardonable sin, then you have not committed the unpardonable sin. If you had, God would have done the same thing to you that He had done with those of whom we have talked about. You would be blinded, hardened, and deaf. You would be like the ones that God has given over to a debased mind (Rom 1:28) to do those things which are not fitting. Even though God would be speaking, you would not hear. Even though God would be showing, you would not see. But if you do hear and if you do see and if you do have remorse and sorrow at all, then you can be assured that you have not committed the unpardonable sin.