Matthew 13:34-35 (NIV) Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
The things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only those whose eyes have been opened and who are actively seeking are open to the Spirit’s leading and teaching. Only they can understand Jesus’ parables.
In a way, the parables used by Jesus were as much a test as instruction. Those who could not understand, and who did not pursue understanding by asking Jesus for additional information, were not spiritually awake yet, so Jesus words were not able to penetrate their hearts. But those whose eyes showed the light of understanding showed hearts that the Holy Spirit had awakened to the truth. Their questions showed a hunger and thirst for righteousness that would be filled.
It is the same today. Many people read the Bible or hear a sermon, and it’s like the words just bounce off. There is no opening in their hard hearts for the word to penetrate. Speaking louder or more passionately to these hearts will do no good. Instead, what is needed is powerful prayers for those people, that the Holy Spirit will plow deeply into the soil of their hearts, so that the seed of God’s word and of the example of Christians living around them would be planted deeply into the freshly tilled soil. Then they can be brought into God’s kingdom.
But there are also those who hear the word of God, who see the lives of God’s people, and who hunger and thirst for the same righteousness that they see in their lives. Even though they don’t understand everything, their eyes light up with the understanding that they do have, and they pursue more. These are the ripe fruit, ready for the harvest.
Father, it is no wonder that Jesus told His disciples to open their eyes and look at the fields so that they could see the harvest (John 4:35). The eyes of the Samaritans headed toward them were already sparkling with a glimmer of understanding, and their hearts were hungry for more truth. To be an effective farmer of souls, a successful fisher of men, requires more than just knowledge of the Scriptures. It requires eyes that can truly see where the harvest is ripe, so that our harvesting efforts can be directed there. It also requires that we be able to see where the ground is rocky, or hard, or weedy, so that different efforts can be used with those people: powerful prayers designed to clear and break up the soil of their hearts, so that the word will be able to penetrate and start growing toward a harvest. Amen.