Seeing, Hearing, Knowing… And Longing For More
For me, knowledge is often like managing a sheet-cake sized serving of Jell-O. It’s hard to get a good handle on it. I think I have it under control, only to find it oozing through my fingers. In other words, the more I know… the more I realize that I don’t know much at all.
I used to think that I had a pretty good handle on the teachings of Jesus. But for about the last 20 years, when I study the words of Jesus, I find that I don’t understand it like I thought I did. I think scripture is designed that way. It’s the proof that God’s word really is active, breathing, and sharp.
A New Way of Teaching
As we move into Matthew 13 in our study of discipleship, Jesus implements a new teaching method. He tells stories. The Bible calls them parables. In the first twelve chapters of this gospel, Jesus’ teaching has been reasonably straightforward. But now we’re hit with all these parables and things are not nearly so cut and dried. So much so that The Twelve come to Jesus asking why he teaches these cryptic, mysterious stories. Here’s Jesus’ answer: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Oh, okay. Thanks, Jesus.
See what I mean? Understanding what Jesus has just said requires thought… contemplation… and a fair amount of prayer. Most of the people following Jesus are not going to spend time contemplating his stories. They want to be entertained. The stories are great! But very few think them through.
The Longing of the Prophets and Patriarchs
After quoting a passage from Isaiah, Jesus says to The Twelve, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
The apostles were blessed to know what the patriarchs had to trust. And we have received the same blessing.
Now, let’s think about that for a minute. Let’s pretend we’re Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel. God has revealed some things to us and we are to preach those things. These are Kingdom things about a coming Messiah, a coming Kingdom, and a New Covenant. We are very curious to know more about these things! Please, God… tell us more! But God reveals only what He wants preached. It’s not yet time to hear more. Still though … we are curious. We long to know more—to see more and hear more about the plans of God.
God’s Plan Revealed
Peter, James, and John see, hear, and witness all of it. The Kingdom has come! God’s Messiah is present in the world and He is making all things new! He heals the sick, casts out demons, and teaches the true intent behind God’s law. The Twelve have front row seats to witness everything the prophets longed to see and hear. God’s eternal plan for the salvation of mankind unfolds before their very eyes!
And they’ve written it all down for you and me to see and hear. Isn’t that cool? Think about all those great promises made to Abraham, Moses, and David. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar” (Hebrews 11:13). The apostles were blessed to know what the patriarchs had to trust. And we have received the same blessing.
And Still We Trust
Now, let’s think about those things you and I have been asked to trust. God has promised us many things that, in this life, we will probably not fully receive.
Yes, we are saved now. But our salvation is not yet.
We have eternal life now. But eternal life will be fully realized only when Jesus comes back.
Yes, the Spirit is transforming us into the image of Christ now. But one day, we will be fully like Him.
A day is coming when there will be no more pain, no more tears, and no more death. But that day is not yet.
May we consider ourselves blessed to know what God allows us to know, realizing that the people of the world cannot know these things because they are not in Christ and Christ does not dwell in them. That’s why it’s so important for us to point the world toward Jesus. We cannot keep the wonderful news to ourselves!
May we also consider ourselves blessed that God has given us things in which we can only trust. Like the prophets, may we long to see these things, realizing that because God is faithful, these things will come to pass. So, we also must remain faithful.
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10,12, emphasis mine).