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Blind and Deaf 

Mark 4:10-12

My nephew works for Duke University for Coach K helping with the ticket sales. Obviously, this year with their deep surge toward the Final Four, Duke tickets are at a premium, but it’s not the tickets. It’s the fact that I can text my nephew before a game and during a game and get a little insider information on the action. Now it’s one thing to have access to a little bit of the Duke magic, it’s infinitely more valuable to have access to the mysteries that Jesus wants to reveal and this is where it’s imperative to get on the inside. 

As we saw yesterday, Jesus began this story about the sower, the seed, and the different soils with a strong command. “Listen and see!” (Mark 4:3). Now later, alone with his inner circle, Jesus explains to those who have decided to follow him, including the Twelve, why he teaches in parables. Why the illustrative stories? And it has to do with deaf ears and blind eyes. 

“Now when Jesus was alone, those around him with the Twelve asked him about the parables. He said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of God’s Kingdom, but to those on the outside everything is in parables, so that the ones seeing, may see but not perceive, and the ones hearing, they hear but they do not do not understand. Lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”    

Jesus faced the same hardened, unreceptive hearts that Isaiah faced. That’s why Jesus quotes Isaiah 6 and compares the refusal to ‘listen and see’ that Isaiah faced in his ministry with the same reaction from many in his audiences. But now the stakes are higher. A failure to repent when Isaiah preached meant defeat by the Assyrians and then a century later by the Babylonians and exile. A failure to receive Jesus’ call to turn back to God, turn away from sin, and believe that Jesus was God’s Son meant exclusion from God’s Kingdom. 

Jesus wasn’t talking about access to real estate around the Sea of Galilee. This is his Father’s House, an eternal, heavenly Kingdom, and Jesus explains to his inner circle. Insiders open their hearts to him and he opens their eyes and ears so that they can understand as he explains the way his Father’s rule works, or outsiders shut down the Spirit’s voice within moving them to open up to Jesus. 

In order to understand, we have to open our eyes and ears and see and listen, and this is not possible if our heart is stubborn, rebellious, and hard. The Pharisees saw Jesus heal a useless hand right in front of their eyes and instead of asking Jesus to forgive them too, they went outside with the Herodians and plotted how to kill him (Mark 3:6). Jesus was angry and full of grief over this hardness of heart (Mark 3:5), but legal experts from Jerusalem went even farther in intense denial. They said Jesus’ power to cast out demons was Satanic (Mark 3:22), so Jesus explained to his inner circle why he taught using illustrative stories. 

Those on the outside with hardened hearts will hear the story and won’t get it. They will remain unrepentant and therefore, unforgiven. But there’s a chance that just hearing Jesus say, “Lest they should turn and be forgiven” might stir something up inside. If you haven’t nailed down where you stand with Jesus that stirring is hope. Listen to the Holy Spirit while he’s still speaking upon your heart.

LORD, help me remember that prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel spoke to audiences where the majority was hard and unresponsive. Help me to remember that Jesus’ sower story ended with the seed that landed on the good soil.

For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!