The disciples asked Jesus a question I certainly would have asked since I am a no-nonsense kind of communicator, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" Why not just speak plainly about the kingdom of heaven?
It's certainly a reasonable request. I mean if the kingdom of heaven is so important to understand, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect the teacher to teach as simply as possible?
But, Jesus' answer shows that the nature of the parables themselves are not designed to instruct but to reveal. Jesus teaches in parables to reveal who humbly seeks answers from him and who stubbornly refuse to listen to the Great Teacher.
Throughout this study, two reactions to Jesus stand out don't they? First, we have poor people, disabled people, sinful people, marginalised people, family people, small business people reacting so positively to Jesus that they leave everything they know, give whatever they can, celebrate with what they can and follow this one they believe is the Son of David as closely as possible. " But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."
Second, we have the religious class of scribes and Pharisees, the current religious teachers and those who protect the sanctity of Israel reacting so negatively to Jesus that despite blatant evidence to the contrary, refuse to believe that he is the Son of David and what to shut him up as quickly as possible so that things can go on as before. "For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."
The key to understanding Jesus lies not with a superior intellect. The key to understanding Jesus lies in a humble, soft heart. To put it another way, the key to unlocking the parables of Jesus is to have soft eyes.
I first learned about the term 'soft eyes' as I watched 'The Wire'. There's a scene when experienced homicide detective Bunk is teaching new homicide detective Greggs about how to investigate a crime scene. He explains that people with hard eyes investigate through a predetermined result. This makes proving a case difficult when the evidence doesn't lead to that conclusion. He than explains that people with soft eyes investigate without a predetermined result, they are simply willing to go wherever the evidence takes them. That way they are able to see the entire crime scene because of their humility and lack of rigidity.
Lord, as we study the parables of Jesus, may you grant us soft eyes, ears and most of all, hearts.