Most of us know that a parable is basically a story with a much deeper meaning. Some have no problem interpreting a parable, whereas a large number of individuals struggle in procuring a proper interpretation because of multiplied reasons. Perhaps the major reason is that they have already formed opinions in given areas, and a parable is met with mental conflicts that cannot be accepted. I recall in one of my studies that the professor said: “Illustrations are good. However, most illustrations can be picked apart by nit picking. Be careful in utilizing illustrations!”
When Jesus began His ministry, Mark, notes how He began it with the teaching of parables. Initially, He chose to use the parable of the “sower”. He used it and concluded by saying: “He that has ears to hear, let him hear!” The entire crowd gathered at the seaside and everyone listened. However, some were not listening! By that, we understand that basically they were shrugging off what He said!
Following that He explains why He is utilizing parables to convey His message. He is also noting that some are and some are not in the hearing mode! That group obviously enjoyed the parable, but not its interpretation! Conveniently, they had done exactly as He expected. The “men and the boys” were separated spiritually. After many years in the ministry, I understand how this mental separation took place. It has happened frequently at the conclusion of a sermon that I have preached.
In reading Mark 4 clarity is presented on what brought about this attitudinal divorce from what they heard. Note that it is the “WORD” that separates! Jesus was presenting truth, and truth separates. Even at the outset of His ministry, He makes it clear that His ministry would separate. He proclaimed the “mystery” of the kingdom of God, and they did not comprehend that it was not to be as they expected; an earthly reign at that time, but a Spiritual Kingdom. They wanted a man on a white horse. He indicates it was not to be because some would be “outside”.
Calvary and establishment of the church would be in between His thinking and theirs. Looking again at this passage will help us to understand His interpretation in verses 11 and 12 of Mark’s Gospel!
What they thought initially was foreign to Scripture. The truth is to those of us who have believed!