Not in the Right Place at the Right Time
Have you ever thought about how easy it is to miss God? I don’t mean that we miss Him in that we hurt in our hearts over the fact that He is away, but I mean that we miss Him in that He makes Himself available to us and we are not in a position to experience Him in our lives.
I think of the receiver on a football team whose assignment is solely based upon timing. Unfortunately, he’s not at the spot that he needs to be when the quarterback throws the ball. His miss is not just a ball off the ends of his fingertips – he’s barely in the same time zone.
I cannot tell you the number of times that I have had someone ask me a question that I had actually addressed in a recent sermon. When I let the person know that fact, I am told that he/she had to miss that Sunday, or several Sundays, for whatever reason. I wonder how many times we have missed God because of a lack of passion at the moment.
The Purpose of the Parables
In Matthew 13, Jesus reveals very clearly the purpose of Him speaking in parables. There are essentially two:
1. To separate those who listen to God from those who do not. Matthew 13:13 For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. In Jesus’ day, there were a multitude of people who followed Him for 3 reasons. They were:
In all three groups, their motives were impure. The parables eventually weeded out the crowd because they did not understand Him or know Him. Imagine having waited your whole life for the coming of the Messiah and you miss Him because you weren’t listening. That’s what happened to many who followed Jesus at first. They followed Him because He fed them or healed them, but their motive was not to have an open heart to listen to Him. And so they missed Him.
2. To fulfill the prophecy regarding the coming of the Messiah. Matthew 13:35 is a quotation from Psalm 78, a Maskil (a wisdom Psalm) of Asaph. One would think that Jesus’ detractors and pseudo-disciples would have made this connection, but they did not. So Jesus quoted in Matthew 13:35:
I will open My mouth in parables;
I will declare things kept secret
from the foundation of the world.
And, therefore, they missed Jesus. In spite of all of the ways that Jesus fulfilled Scripture, His detractors ignored the evidence, and even denied the evidence, and missed the very Messiah for whom they were waiting. The paradox of the entire story is that the mysteries of the Kingdom were not to be hidden from anyone, except those who weren’t listening. And those who should have been listening weren’t listening at all.
Are You Listening?
As Jesus spoke in parables, He teaches us simple truths in each one. The sower teaches us about the openness of our hearts and God’s Word. The mustard seed tells us that little can become much. The priceless pearl says that God’s Kingdom is invaluable. What we must do is take these simple truths and apply them to our lives. Being a part of the Kingdom of God is not a Sunday activity. Sunday is the peak of what we have done in living as Kingdom citizens during the week. If the Kingdom is a priceless pearl, then nothing should ever get in the way of us serving, worshiping, and emulating our King.
Thus, we have to ask ourselves the question, “Am I listening to Jesus today?” Don’t be one of the first three groups who followed Jesus and missed Him. You see, there was a fourth group who did not miss Him:
That’s who Jesus wants us to be. And when we follow Him out of commitment, we understand the simple truths of His parable teaching.