Then Jesus said "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." (Mark 4: 9)
It is often said of Jesus that he was a good teacher because he was such a good communicator. Indeed as a teacher myself I have often thought about how I could emmulate Jesus in my teaching practice. I have spent quite a bit of time looking at what Jesus did when he was teaching people, and yet I have never really been able to pin down any specific teaching techniques that I can adapt to my work.
It is often said, for example, that he was a good communicator because he ‘spoke with pictures’ using parables to make the complex things he taught be more accessible and simple. But when I look into his teaching in detail I actually find the opposite.
"When he was alone the twelve and others around him asked him about the parables" (Mark 4: 10). The very people who might be able to understand the complexities of the kingdom because they spent all there time with him, were as perplexed as everyone else. Far from making the concepts seem simple, it seemed that it made them harder.
When I first noticed this I thought that maybe it was my imagination. Jesus wouldn’t deliberately try to make things difficult for us would he? Surely it was because his disciples were just uneducated fishermen. Maybe they couldn’t understand Jesus because they weren’t smart enough. But we actually read Jesus own words that say the exact opposite. "At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’" (Matthew 11:25)
In fact he makes this clear in this very chapter. "He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ’they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ " (Luke 4: 11-12)
Far from being a good teacher, Jesus aim was actually to hide the kingdom of God away from those who wouldn’t appreciate it. The gate is narrow, and few travel it. If you actually seek the Lord (as the disciples and other around him did), then he will make know the mysteries of God. But if you are not interested then he will not give it to you on a platter. He wants us to ask, to seek, to knock, and not to just sit there and say ‘What a nice moral’, or ‘what a wonderful story’.
Contrary to popular belief, I think Jesus he spoke in parables to that what he was saying was NOT obvious. The parables where more like riddles, clues to the kingdom for those who were persistent enough to search out there meaning. Like a child who is not afraid to keep asking why God want us to be both curious and persistent.
Jesus is the way the truth and the life, but it won’t just fall down and hit your from the sky. There is work to be done if you want to discover the mysteries of God. That kind of knowledge should only be available to those who have sought to understand it and struggled with it’s meaning and now know it’s significance.
The revelation of who Jesus is can only ultimately be found by those who are looking in the right place, knocking on the right doors and asking the right people. God is glad to reveal himself and in that way make himself vulnerable, but only to those who love him and obey him.