When I was young, my favorite bedtime stories were from Aesop’s fables. While I enjoyed the fantastical stories, I was fully enthralled with the lessons of morality encoded into them. Now, as an adult, I see that this was my fathers clever strategy for teaching life lessons. In fact, as I reflect on it, it was quite effective. You see, fables make you think. If you are willing to look deep into the story, they go to work on your character, stimulating thoughts about your own life, behaviors and responses. Jesus, had a similar method. He spoke in parables. Instead of just teaching morality, however, he wanted us to see “the secrets of heaven” (Matthew 13:11). But, there is a catch. Like the fable, we have to be listening.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 13:11 that we are permitted to understand the secrets of his stories. He goes on to say that some are not permitted. Which has me wondering, why are some permitted to know and others are not? The answer lies in the condition of your heart. I like the way Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message. He refers to a ready heart. It reads, “whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely.” Jesus then explains why he speaks in parables. He says, “That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it” (Matthew 13:13, MSG).
If you haven’t guessed by now, we are going to take BibleJournal through the parables. In each of these stories, we get a unique opportunity to see the kingdom of God. I pray that our authors and readers will be listening closely, with ready hearts. I trust we will as I rely on Jesus promise in Matthew 13:16, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.”