The disciples came to Him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” – Matthew 13:10-11
Every time big crowds surrounded Jesus, He said something to severely thin them out. Every time I read about it, I think about how almost all preachers in America do the opposite. We tend to focus on obtaining huge, shallow crowds, while Jesus focused on a small number who would go deep with Him. At this particular moment, the disciples are basically asking Him, “Why in the world do you talk like this and run people off?” Moments before, Jesus let an entire crowd know that He is completely uninterested in watering seeds that will never produce.
At one point in my life, I would have taken verse 11 and been discouraged. It sounds kind of arbitrary for the kingdom of heaven to be given to one, but not the other. It sounds like God is random when He picks disciples. Many times, especially when I feel like I am failing as a Christian, I wonder if maybe the kingdom of heaven hasn’t been given to me. I have come to realize that this is the thief coming to do what he does: steal, kill, and destroy my Christian life.
Jesus ran off a lot of people that day simply by telling a story that nobody understood in the moment . . . His disciples included. He simply told of a farmer who scattered seed and categorized where the seed fell:
Hard ground that never produced
Stony ground where it sprouted a little before dying
Weedy ground where it grew, but never actually produced
Good ground where it actually produced
Upon completion of His story, Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” In other words, “If you get it, you get it.” Obviously, many walked away saying, “I traveled all this way for this? This is the amazing teacher everyone is talking about?” When they all went back home, I imagine people inquired, “What did Jesus say?” They probably responded with something like; “He told some weird story about a farmer planting some seeds. It was a total waste of time.”
Now, if you made it this far in the devotional, here is where this gets really good. In the two verses I’m using today there is a great secret. It is a secret that can absolutely let you know that you know that you are a disciple of God. Are you ready for this?
What makes a disciple a disciple? Look back at the verses. Look at the first seven words: The disciples came to Him and asked. Keep in mind; they didn’t understand the parable either. Yet, they stuck around and asked Jesus about it. He proceeded to explain everything in great detail. Check out this one major word in the response of Jesus . . . it has been given to you. They didn’t have to labor at all for understanding. All they had to do was stick around, ask, and listen.
I realize that the Bible is a long and difficult book to understand. If you’re just starting out, just like all of the people who heard Jesus tell the parable of the sower, it can seem overwhelming. For five years after becoming a Christian, this was my excuse for not reading it. When my life was not producing any of the fruits of the Spirit, I decided to ask Jesus about it. I went to a church service where the preacher talked about reading God’s Word for myself. He said that if I read 3 chapters a day, I’d finish it in around a year. I had never thought to do the math, break it down into chunks, and read it. All of a sudden, it became doable.
Here is the other thing he said: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand it. I began to do these things and I began to understand the things of God. The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven had been given to a nobody 22-year old from Salem, SC. It was not because I was anything special. It was because I stuck around and asked Him to help me understand these things He talks about in His Word.
What about you? Will you keep your Bible closed this week? Or, will you breathe a prayer, “God, speak to me through your Holy Word,” then open it up, and go for it? If you do, then the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you.