“And when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parables. And He said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables….’” (Mark 4:10-11)
During Jesus’ ministry, He often spoke in parables. He only spoke plainly to His disciples, and even then, His words had layers of meaning. Because of this, it can often be a little difficult to understand His teachings. This fact is rather confusing to us; after all, if Jesus wanted people to respond to Him, why didn’t He speak in plain language? Why tell stories that were too complicated for anyone to understand unless He explained it?
It is very telling that it was only the disciples who heard Jesus’ explanations of the parables. These were the men who knew Him, who regularly spent time with Him and were eager to learn from Him. Because they knew Him, He told them more than He revealed to the crowds. Many people heard Him speak, but the words never actually sank in. The Pharisees, for example, refused to believe that He was in fact the Messiah they were waiting for, and so they never understood the significance of His teachings. They did not accept Him, and so they completely missed what He could have taught them.
But what does this mean for us? Quite simply, we have no chance of understanding God if we do not know Him to begin with. So, just like the disciples, we need to spend time with God, listening to Him and learning about His ways. When we make an effort to have a relationship with God, He honors that in an incredible way. We think we know a good deal about Him, and then He blows us away with a new revelation about His character. It’s something we never would have known if we hadn’t first taken the time to develop our relationship with Him. Yes, God’s words can be confusing, but He explains them to those who know Him. If we truly want to understand what He says, we must be like the disciples. Our relationship with Jesus needs to be a priority in our lives.