13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.”

Matt 13:13-15 (NIV)

In our verses for today, Jesus gives us the third reason why He spoke in parables – to fulfill the prophecy presented in Isaiah and here quoted by Him. God had prophesized that the people would not understand our Lord’s message – though they were privileged to both see and hear it. With their hardened hearts they hardly heard and with their closed eyes they prevented the perception of Truth. Their dullness was a mark of intentional unwillingness and immaturity. Yet God remains ever willing and faithful to bestow mercy on all who will seek Him in humility and sincerity.

“The saddest condition a man can be in is to sit under the most living ordinances with a dead, stupid, untouched heart.” Matthew Henry

Jesus came to fulfill all righteousness which included, of course, the fulfillment of prophecy. God never promises without fulfilling – we can take that to the bank. Our Lord tells the Baptist prior to His baptism - when John protested in baptizing Jesus as he considered himself unworthy of the task - those very words:

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. Matt 3:13-15 (NIV)

“Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors.” Dr. Hugh Ross

God is faithful to bestow His gifts of Truth, wisdom and understanding to all who will apply them yet He takes them away from those who choose to bury them, disregard them or turn their back on them – staunchly refusing to believe. Our dullness in hearing comes when do not mix it with faith – refusing to act upon what we have heard – refusing to flesh out the Truth. Some of the onlookers of our Lord’s miracles and teachings were simply amused or entertained by what they saw and heard. They had willingly shut their eyes to the clear light of His plainer preaching and now it seems they remained in the dark to His teachings which were veiled in parables. One never remains stationary in their spiritual wisdom and understanding or in any other part of life for that matter. We are either going backwards in an insidious manner or forwards towards the light whether we are able to perceive this or not. It is foolishness to think otherwise. It is also very easy to waste a life. We don’t want to go there.

One mark of spiritual maturity is a desire to go on with Christ. Obviously, these Pharisees - and every other nonbelieving naysayer thereafter - had no intention of that. Paul gave a clarion call to believers to follow his example of pressing onward in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus in Philippians. All who are mature should recognize the value of his words:

14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Phil 3:14-16 (NIV)

Lastly, let us note that seeing, hearing and understanding are all necessary for our repentance as God changes the hearts of men by opening the eyes of man – turning them from darkness to light. Luke records Jesus’ Words to Paul in Acts regarding this:

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” Acts 26:15-18 (NIV)

What I Glean

  • Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill prophecy.
  • I am in a sad condition - to be sure - if I sit under sound teaching yet remain untouched.
  • God is always willing to bestow mercy on all who seek Him in humility and sincerity.