Jesus taught in parables (stories) for people to picture what He was trying to explain. Sometimes these parables were very clear and sometimes they were confusing to His audience. Jesus explained to His disciples that to those of the Kingdom (having faith and believe in Him), “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (Matt 13:11) So it is the Spirit of God who enables us to understand these parables and the secrets they reveal.
However, sometimes the Spirit deems it necessary for other non believers to grasp (at least part) of the meaning of a parable as well. Such was the case with the parable of the tenants (Mark 12:1-12). Jesus used this parable to explain what God had done with the Israelites. He had created a perfect ‘vineyard’ for them. And every time He sent a servant (prophet or judge) to them, they treated these men badly with no respect. So eventually He sent His own Son (meaning Jesus himself) and He was treated worse than they others.
The amazing part is actually the end of the story. “And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.” (v12) These men understood that Jesus was referring to them as the tenants, God was the owner of the vineyard and Jesus was His own Son.
The ability of the non-believers to actually perceive the meaning of this story could not come from their own understanding, it could only come from the Spirit. The Holy Spirit chose to allow them to perceive this particular message even though they miss the meaning of so many others. Why?
Because it was important to God’s story. It was not time for these rulers to arrest Jesus yet, that would soon come. So God uses His Son to tell a story and the Spirit to open the mind of the rulers to understand the story “so they left him and went away”.
So how does understanding this help us today? Have you ever had a conversation with a non-believer and you seem to lay out a very convincing explanation of the topic… but that person just doesn’t get it? Sure, we all have. This can be a very stressful moment, as we explain something that seems so obvious and basic to us, but a lost cause to someone else. This does not ‘necessarily’ mean you have failed in your explanation. It just might mean that the Spirit has not enable them to know that particular truth yet.
Trust the Spirit and His timing. When and if it’s right for them to know that truth, He will enable their mind to accept it. Until then, no parable, analogy or explanation will ever sink in.
Always pray for His words to flow from your mouth, but remember… His words will still fall on deaf ears if the Spirit has not enable them to perceive the meaning of those words.
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