Friday, March 15, 2013

Notes on Mark: They See But Do Not Perceive

MARK 4:10-12
I always thought it was unfair the way that Jesus would explain the parables to the disciples and then say, "But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that 'they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.'" This puts the proper spin on that passage by explaining the context of Jesus' quotation, which surely faithful Jews would have understood.
But what about those outside? Jesus describes their predicament with a quotation from Isaiah (Isa 6:9-10). In the context of the passage, God forewarns Isaiah that he would be called to preach judgment ot Israel at a time when the people were mired in sin and injustice, and so his message would meet with stubborn resistance. The forceful language does not mean that God himself will block the people's eyes and ears. Rather, the prophet's message will cause the people to blind and deafen themselves to avoid hearing it, in order to persist in their rebellion. Jesus, likewise, is addressing a wayward generation, many of whom will harden themselves to avoid grasping the implications of his words. His parables, by their hidden depths veiled in simplicity, will cause a separation by the response they evoke in listeners hearts. For those who ponder the parables with sincere openness, the mystery of the kingdom will be gradually unveiled. But for those who prefer to resist in their own rebellious ways, the parables will remain opaque ...

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