Why is Jesus so hard to understand? (Day Eight Mark 4:2)

He taught them many things in parables…Mark 4:2 NET

Have you ever thought that Jesus was difficult to understand?  Why can’t it just be black and white?  Why can’t everything just be clear, straight to the point, and easy to comprehend?  Imagine the confused looks on the faces of many in the crowds as Jesus spoke about one of his parables.  Our Savior preferred teaching with stories and parables, some of them seem like riddles at times, seemingly with no right answers or clear points.  Why did Jesus do this? The practical part of my answer is simple.  In a society where most could not read or write, parables and memorable stories were the primary way people learned things.  Still today, in underdeveloped parts of the world, missionaries use stories to teach people Biblical truths.  Stories and parables are also memorable.  Ask someone to tell you five of the laws mentioned in the book of Leviticus and see how many the average Christian can recite.  Ask them to list all the parables of Christ they can recall and it is sure to eclipse the other.  Finally, stories engage people and cause them to think about things.  Christ did not want to just teach these people, he wanted them to apply it to their lives.  When they are forced to think through a situation or story and search for an answer, they are more likely to apply it to their lives and personalize the meaning of the parable.  In part I believe that this is why things are not always crystal clear for the modern day disciple either.  Jesus wants us to wrestle with things, and work through things ourselves to a certain degree so that they become personal lessons that we will never forget.  So next time you don’t understand Jesus, remember that you are not the first to find yourself in that position. Keep in mind that there is a divine purpose and plan behind every lesson Christ desires to teach us even if we can’t see it or understand it at that exact moment.

You are doing great with the New Testament Bible challenge.  Keep it up as we move through the book of Mark.

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About Pastor Pete

Pete is the senior Pastor of Cowboy Fellowship in Pleasanton Texas. He is also the author of The Absolute Basics of Christianity, The Living Lamp, and a co-author of The Modern Day Disciple Bible Study series.
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7 Responses to Why is Jesus so hard to understand? (Day Eight Mark 4:2)

  1. Royce Hart says:

    Hi Pastor – I remember Jesus explained his use of parables in Matthew 13:10-11:
    The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
    After that, Jesus goes on to explain the parable of the sower to the disciples in plain language. I never really understood why, but I know that Jesus was sent first to the Jews, then the Gentiles. (Romans 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Deuteronomy 7:6 – “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”)

  2. Karen Hart says:

    Not only do I not understand some of the parables, I don’t understand His explanation of teaching in parables in 4:12………

    • Pastor Pete says:

      Karen I hope the explanation below from the BK Commentary helps they explain it better then I could so read below and let me know if you continue to have questions….
      Pete

      These verses must be viewed in the context of unbelief and hostility (cf. 3:6, 21-22, 30). To those who believed, to you (emphatic first position in Gr.), the disciples, God had given the secret of the kingdom of God (cf. 1:15). But to those on the outside (of the circle of disciples, the unbelieving crowd) everything, His whole message and mission, was stated in parables. The word “parables” here has the special sense of “enigmatic speech.” The crowd did not really understand Jesus.
      Both groups were confronted by Jesus and His message (cf. 1:14-15). God enabled the disciples to see in Him the “secret” (musthvrion) about the kingdom. This refers to the disclosure of God’s present kingdom plan which is to be an Age of “seed-sowing” (cf. 4:13-20; 13:10). It was previously hidden to the prophets, but now was revealed to people of His choice (cf. Rom. 16:25-26).
      The basic “secret,” common to all the kingdom parables, is that in Jesus, God’s rule (kingdom) has come into human experience in a new spiritual form. The disciples had believed in Jesus. God had already given (de√dotai, perf. pass.) them this “secret,” though so far they understood little of its full impact.
      On the other hand those blinded by unbelief saw in Jesus nothing but a threat to their existence. They rejected Him and did not come to know the “secret” of God’s kingdom. Jesus’ parables served to conceal its truths from them.
      They were like the Israelites in Isaiah’s day (Isa. 6:9-10). Isaiah said that this spiritual blindness and deafness that comes to people is God’s judgment. He particularly referred to Israel as a nation (cf. Mark 6:9, “this people”) for rejecting God’s revelation, especially as expressed in Jesus. They would see or hear the imagery of a parable but they would not understand its spiritual meaning. Otherwise (mhvpote, “lest perhaps”) they might turn to God (repent) and be forgiven by Him.
      Jesus’ audiences were not denied the opportunity to believe in Him. But after they persistently closed their minds to His message (cf. 1:15), they were excluded from further understanding of it by His use of parables. Yet even the parables, which veiled the truth, were meant to provoke thought, enlighten, and ultimately reveal it (cf. 12:12). They uniquely preserved people’s freedom to believe, while demonstrating that such a decision is effected by God’s enabling (cf. 4:11a).

      • Royce Hart says:

        Thank you, Pastor! I felt sure that God wouldn’t exclude anyone from His message, but it makes perfect sense that He would only let them hear it with a right heart. A proud, know-it-all heart wasn’t ready. The parables ensured that folks who were ready to meet God on His terms (humble, wholehearted pursuit) were able to. I like that a lot!

  3. evaasbury says:

    Yes! I know that sometimes it is hard to figure out what he is saying, I do know that through the holy spirit he will reveal to you a message for your life.

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