“I want you to look forward to some things changing in some drastically important ways. Up to now, I’ve been doing things in a certain way, but I’m getting ready to change everything up, for the better. Up to now, you’ve heard me speak like every other teacher. You’ve heard the words I spoke. You’re hearing them now. Some of it’s been hard to understand because I’ve been telling you in ways to get you to think about things. But soon, I won’t be telling you this way anymore. Soon, I will retell you in such a way that you get it, you’ll see it clearly. I’ll tell you straight fowardly, outright. It won’t be parables and proverbs and hidden any more. I’ll tell you openly and you’ll hear and understand everything I already told you in a new way, the whole way, My way.” (my paraphrase)
It brings me back to what You said, Lord, to Your disciples in both Mark and Luke. “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; unless at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4:11,12) Seems kind of harsh at first. And harsh isn’t always bad. Sometimes I need harsh, because separation from You for eternity is worse than a harsh reality. It would be worth more than a pat on the back to turn me around so that I didn’t lose out on You. It would be worth whatever it took to wake me up, to get me to see, to get me to hear, to get me to understand and acknowledge You.
I mean, this makes it seem as though some are chosen and some are not. Some are given the right to know the mystery of You and some are not. And that You are making this decision. And I think that is true. But the fact is, this is not a random decision You are making. This decision is based on a decision we make, each one of us. This privilege is given to all who are “within” the kingdom. But sometimes we choose, for whatever our reasons are, to remain “outside” the kingdom. To those who choose to remain “outside” of You, they aren’t qualified to receive the mystery.
So, You speak in proverbs and parables, in mysteries to those who are outside. But to those who are inside, though You speak the same proverbs and parables and mysteries, You give understanding. Why? Why does it happen this way? Why does it turn out this way? Because we only see what we want to see and we can’t see more without Your revelation. We can only see to the point of perceiving and really understanding if we see the need for You to make us able to see Your way. If I think that I already know the answers, I don’t have to look for them any more. I am sufficient in myself. Why would I need You to show me? But thank You, Lord, that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don’t know the right answers. Even when I study Your Word and see a new insight from You, my insight may not be complete yet and I will continually need Your revelation until You make it complete that day I am fully with You.
So we can see and not really see what we need to see. And I can hear everything You tell me and not ever hear in a way that brings me to Your understanding. And it’s not because You didn’t give me the opportunity to understand. It’s because I didn’t want to see or hear, or I didn’t think I needed to because I thought I already had it down pat. And, if I heard and if I saw and responded to You, well, then I would have to change, because what naturally would follow would be my conversion, my repentance, my forgiveness, and my absolute dependency on You.
But dependency on You is a scary thing. Dependency on You means admitting weakness. It means giving up our status. It means following You even when we don’t know where You are taking us. And it even means not knowing the answers any more, but more importantly, knowing the One who does. I suppose it means relearning everything that I have been taught. And that’s a scary thing for someone who doesn’t really see and hear the absolute glorious benefits of life in You. But the moment I see, the moment I really hear, I’d leave it all for You.
The time is here when You no longer speak only in proverbs. Here, John used the word “laleo” and it “contemplates the fact rather than the substance of speech. Hence it is used of God (Heb. 1:1), the point being, not what God said, but the fact that He spake to me.” (Vincent) So there was a time when we listened to the words and about the words You said. They were good words and wise words. They were proverbs, from the Hebrew “mashal,” comparisons, parallels. You presented “a pithy, poignant observation or instruction.” Why? To teach us timeless truths “in the form of a simple illustration that exposes a fundamental reality of life.” You shared words that were “practical, easy to memorize, and imminently applicable to real life situations.” You offered us “divine guidelines and wise observations.”
As we contemplate them, it should lead us to contemplate the mind of God, Your character, Your attributes, Your works, and Your blessings. You could teach this because You are their sum.
These proverbs had a purpose. The Greek word for “paroimia” is made of “para” and “oimos.” It literally means “by the way.” It’s another way to get to an understanding rather than the direct way. But what was the understanding You wanted to lead us to? Was it about knowing right and wrong? Was it about how to worship? Was it about doing stuff pleasing to the Lord? Or was the whole point like that of the Paraclete, the One who comes along beside us? Was the whole point of Your telling, to get us to come alongside You? Was the whole point for me to learn to line up my way of thinking not just with Yours but with You? And how could I ever do that without absolute dependency on You?
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon calls a proverb “any dark saying which shadows forth some didactic truth.” Our sin makes Your Truth appear dark. At first I was going to say that dark doesn’t always mean sin; it can just be something hidden. But as I thought about it, I couldn’t find anything else that would hide You or Your truth from me, other than sin. Whatever I fear more than You is sin. Whatever I love more than You is sin. Whatever I think about more than You is sin. Whatever I crave more than You is sin. This is what keeps Your sayings dark to me. You didn’t make the sayings, Your words, dark and shadowed. My own sin did that.
But even in the darkness and shadow of my sin, You gave me words, intending to teach me. You had an ulterior motive in these sayings, to not just teach me about things but to teach me of You. Your desire was that one day I would start really hearing and seeing. And then You would no longer just be speaking wise words, then You would be announcing Words of Life! “I will show you plainly of the Father.”
Here’s that English translation weakness again. Only show is a better word. But the Greek word is “anaggello.” I want to stop and think about that word and it’s parts for a little while. It’s actually related to our English word “angel.” It has to do with a message, “the news.” It’s the content of the message with the instructions, directives, commands. And it doesn’t just mean to announce. It carries the meaning of doing it again or reporting back or rehearsing. It’s like the messenger went and saw it for himself and came back to tell me about it. And he told me in detail. And it was Good tidings of Great joy! And for me, for us, it has to do with God. First we began to receive it through the proverbs, and then by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus brings Himself home to us directly! The tidings, the understanding, the personal knowledge is only brought back to him who receives them.
I think John wrapped it up in a nutshell here. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:1,2) Wow! And I can’t leave this out. “And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” (John 1:16) Wow! Galing! Wow! Wow! Galing! Galing! Wow! This is it. This is the point. Will I receive You for all that You are? Will I receive all of Your words no matter what they imply for me? Because if I don’t, then I’ll never know Your fulness. But if I do….Oh, the Unimaginable Treasure!
When I receive You as You are, not as I want You to be, then You reveal Yourself to me plainly. You take me before Him, hidden in You, and I see Him and hear from Him in You and Your word in all boldness, confidence, and openness. You do not hide Yourself from me. You are not veiled from me. The shadows are removed. The darkness is gone. I can see. I can hear. I can understand You. I can know You. I can be filled with You. I’m not just a listener on the outside. You make me an insider in You.
Lord, when we sit down in Your Word together, I never really know where You are going to take me, but what a joyful journey it is. It’s like You light up areas of Your Word and say, “Let’s dig up the treasures here today.” And I say, “Yes, Lord, let’s!” And then I can’t wait for the next time together. And actually, I think it would be wonderful to just sit down and keep going from treasure to treasure and lose track of what time of day it is and what’s going on around me. Because I like to be lost in You.
But on the other hand, You desire us to go back down off the mountain and declare You to others. I pray that like Moses, You’ll have had such an influence on me that others will see and be changed. Hopefully like Joshua who always wanted to stick as close to You as he could.
I’m so glad that You, God of the universe, took time to speak to us, to let us know who You are. I’m so glad that You have given us everything we need to really know You, to receive You as our everything. You are not just my ticket out of hell. You are my Everything. Lord, my prayer is that there will never be a day that passes or even a moment in that day when I do not realize my absolute dependency on You. I am needy for You to continually re-relate Your Good News, which is everything about You, to me, all of it, all of the time. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. I want to hear it from You. I want to hear what You reveal to me. I want to hear what You reveal to others. And I want to share it just as readily, just as boldly, just as confidently with others. And then, I want to see them pass it on.
And Lord, I pray for anyone who has not received You at Your Word, that today would be the day. If they are reading this, they are seeking You. Maybe they have already received You and this all just makes their heart sing too. But maybe they are coming to see. May today be the day that they surrender their ideas, and desperately cling to You no matter the cost. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth the cost of losing out on You. Thank You for giving us a way to become sons and daughters of God!