Drinking Deeply

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 11:25 PM

The Hidden God

To unpack one aspect of my last post a little bit, about how Christ reveals himself to some but not to others, I'm going to go into another part of Mark on the purpose of parables.

Though many believe that Jesus told parables in order to make the Gospel accessible to the common people, this was actually far from the case. far from using parables to make the Kingdom of God more understandable, Christ used parables to keep "hidden," and in fact prevent people from coming to him!

Mark 4 begins with the parable of the sower, and then in verse 10 we get to the purpose of the parables.
10And(J) when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, (K) "To you has been given(L) the secret of the kingdom of God, but for(M) those outside everything is in parables, 12(N) so that

"they(O) may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they(P) should turn and be forgiven."

In this passage we find that the reason for the parables is not for Jesus to connect with the people, but rather in order that he might remain hidden. The people that are actually permitted to hear and see truly are only those that Christ tells everything to and interprets everything to. (Note, this is not to say that there are times when the meaning is so obvious that even the blind pharisees see it, see Mark 12 and the parable of the tenants). This also seems to undermine the whole "sincere offer" aspect of the Gospel. It is clear that if God really desired all to come to Him, there would be no reason to speak in parables at all. (Christ commands all to come to Him, but only those that He wants to come are actually able.)

The difficult part of this passage isn't as much the interpretation as much the application. There are certainly some things we ought not to do, or maybe to be more exact, ought not to claim this passage is in support of (like claiming that we ought to tell stories in sermons to better "reach" the audience because Jesus did it). But does this passage mean that we ought to make the Gospel confusing in some regards? I'm not entirely sure how this passage fits in with Paul's desire to "become all things to all people in order that he might win some." (1 Cor. 9:22)

There is however one application that I can think of coming out of this passage, and also specifically from that parable. We should not lose heart when some do not respond to the Gospel. It is Christ who hides Himself or reveals Himself to them. Let he who has ears, hear.


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Blogger Evan said...

As Piper said at the conference, God's emotional life is quite complicated. Far beyond our feeble understanding. There is indeed a sense in which He desires that everyone be saved. This cannot be denied. Yet, He does things like speak in parables so that people specifically will not repent! That's frightful and seems to contradict, so we must conclude that God only desires salvation for everyone in a certain sense.

Crazy how when we read the God's explanation of His own actions, it can directly contradict our initial understandings. Truly His ways are higher than ours.  


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