This post is going to be meta, like really meta, so bear with me.
In today’s gospel (Matt 13:10) the disciples ask Jesus why he teaches the crowds in parables. He gives what can be a very confusing response, so I’m going to try and break it down.
1. Jesus’ whole life is a parable. If you don’t understand that, then you’re missing the point, but don’t worry, the disciples missed this one quite often as well, and they knew him. The entirety of the bible points to a higher truth. Every staging in the Old Testament was pointing to something bigger, all the prophecies were about something more than the moment happening. The entire bible is a parable for a higher truth, it happens to also spell that truth out perfectly to people who are embracing it: God desires a personal relationship with his creation.
2. This statement is a parable, or at least it has a hidden message that has to be teased out. I can see the disciples walking away from this saying, ‘Oh, we must be important,’ and entirely missing the point. The reason the disciples understand the parables is because they are open to what the parables mean. They are walking with Jesus daily, and seeing what he is like, so when he says something about a rich guy throwing a wedding for his son, they know it’s about God and Jesus. The people who are hearing Jesus for the first time, might not get this. If you understand the parables right off, it’s because hind-sight is 20/20, not because you are smarter than the average 1st century Jew.
3. There is a larger statement being made here than understanding Jesus’ parables. The statement is about an outlook on life. Remember that these parables were fundamentally different from the consistent teaching at the time (though they weren’t new, they were a deviation from what was being taught traditionally.) This same statement applies to our lives today, we can’t sit comfortably on what we ‘know.’ This applies to closed mindedness about science (limiting the bible to a text book, rather than seeing it as a parable.) There are people who’s eyes will be closed to the truth, either because they are convinced they are smarter, because they are convinced there isn’t a truth, or because they are convinced they know the truth and cling to it rather than have their eyes be opened.