The Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

(If this Sunday is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, read this devotion in the morning, and the devotion entitled, “The Sunday Before the Season of Lent” in the evening, under this same tab.)

Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15

The Mystery of the Kingdom in Parables

Today, we begin a series of devotions on the parables of Jesus that happen to be grouped together in three of the gospels (that is, Matthew, Mark, and Luke; John’s gospel records more of Jesus’ discourses than his parables).  The first parable that each of the three gospels begins with is the “Parable of the Sower,” although it really should be called, “the Parable of the Soils,” for that is what the parable is about.  Its preeminence among the parables is cited by Jesus, himself, when, after the disciples ask him about the parables, he said, “Do you not understand this parable?  How then will you understand all the parables?”  Thus, we must pay very close attention to it.

But first, we must ask with the disciples, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”  And Jesus’ answer might trouble some people.  It has been given to the disciples “to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given”; indeed, “for those outside everything is in parables.”  And this is what troubles some people.  All three gospels then record Jesus’ citation of Isaiah 6:8-10, Isaiah’s call to ministry in which he is told that, preach and prophesy all he may, the people will not hear.  Indeed, all that his preaching will do is make their hearts dull, their ears heavy, and their eyes blind.  And why is this, “lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”  Lest?  Yes, “lest.”  In other words, the purpose of Jesus’ parables is to further enlighten those who are already members of the kingdom so that they “will have an abundance,” while the same parables only serve to further harden those who are outside lest they should be healed.

This is hard medicine.  The interplay here is between God’s eternal election and man’s sinful heart.  It is true that God turns some and not others.  But those who are not turned do not wish to be turned anyway; they are content to remain in their sins.  Would not those whom God turned be content to remain in their sins had He not turned them?  Yes, they would.  Then why turn only them and not all?  We leave this to the inscrutable will of God.  We do know that each and everyone deserves death and hell, for we have all sinned and gone our own way.  That God chooses to save some is a credit to His manifold grace.  But He does no injustice to those outside; He simply leaves them where they prefer to be.  God does not wish their damnation (1 Timothy 2:4), nor does He prevent it, nor is He obliged to (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:14-18).  So let those on the “inside” be humble and pray for those on the “outside,” after all, who knows … (2 Timothy 2:25-26)?

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

Leave a Reply