The gospel of the Kingdom of God was the most important news ever to be heralded to humanity. But, instead of taking it as good news, the majority of those living at that time, actually, received it as bad news. That gospel is still bad news for most people, even today.
On being asked, about the reason why He spoke in parables, Jesus revealed something that can be adjudged as quite mysterious to ordinary people: “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand”(Matthew 13:13) (ESV).
Were the parables designed to be advantageous to ordinary people, or not? The context that Jesus applied reveals that the parables were, actually, meant to mystify the understanding for the ordinary people. Those people would be left with the impression that they understood when the opposite would be true.
Interestingly, to His disciples Jesus did not speak in parables: “….To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away”(Matthew 13:11-12) (ESV). Did Jesus practice favoritism?
There are some people who, obviously, get something from my writings, so that their lives get changed, never to be the same again. But there are also those who Jesus said would be seeing but unable to see, and hearing but unable to hear. In that process, even the little that those people have would be taken away.
What does all this mean? Many preachers would probably not see this as deep stuff— denouncing the assertion, in the same way that the scribes and Pharisees of the first century equally denounced it? The key is in that the secrets of God’s Kingdom are ‘given’, not necessarily understood through deep study?
Granted, it is normal for an average Christian to wake up on Saturday or Sunday morning to go to Church, attending services, viewed as pleasing God. Jesus also took time to attend services. As His custom was, Jesus was known to attend services at Synagogues, on Sabbath days.
Jesus was a Jew. He was also circumcised on the eighth day, just as any Jew would affirm to that practice as normal. In the same consideration as ordinary Christians, visiting those synagogues was an opportunity to share God’s word.
However, Jesus’ intention was not to fulfill such ritualistic requirements. He used those opportunities to announce the gospel of God’s Kingdom. Jesus was a messenger of the New Covenant, whose announcement led to His crucifixion.
The New Covenant carries the gospel provision that the Old Covenant did not clearly enunciate. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to Heaven, the disciples continued with the mission that was initiated by Jesus. The gospel was about God’s Kingdom, whose initiator, Jesus, effectively applied in His interaction with ordinary people, who experienced the positive impact of that gospel.
While most people benefited from Jesus’ presence, the proud were busy plotting to kill Him. The bottom line is that, when on earth, Jesus was obsessed with solving the problems of humanity. This confirms that the gospel, literally translated as the good news about God’s Kingdom, is about solving the problems of humanity.
The gospel focuses on solutions rather than problems. Christ continues in that mission, using those accepting Jesus’ calling to serve people, accordingly. The attendant question is: Are proud people predisposed to solve problems?
The Pharisees were not happy to see sinners healed, especially where the Sabbath Laws were violated. We still have the Pharisees who are also not happy to see Christ using those not conforming to their understanding of scriptures?
Without realizing their actions, they declare that God’s Kingdom is unfair—as not punishing people they consider as violating God’s laws? Instead of helping to solve problems of poor governance, proud people blame politicians, instead of highlighting prescriptions that cure bad governance.
The governments of this world are sustained by politicians who articulate things according to what their people want to hear, thereby deepening those people’s problems. The only way, leading to God’s Kingdom, as promised in the gospel, gets suppressed.
Ordinary people cannot fathom the significance of the gospel. They are led to commit themselves to self-interests. God’s Kingdom focuses on other people—based on altruistic philosophy. Ordinary people are generally used to advance self-centredness, instead of altruism.
They are encouraged to care for that which belongs to them, without considering what belongs to other people. Such behavior makes them feel proud. They get obsessed in desiring that everything should go well, so that they can enjoy life.
It therefore cannot be possible for altruism and pride to be in harmony. The projections of those principles are opposed, one to the other. Altruism seeks to rescue those drowning in sin. However, proud people focus on need for punishing evil-doers. They view that as necessary for them to then live comfortably.
In Jesus’ time there were many religious people, divided on sectarian principles. But the Pharisees and the Sadducees were the most dominant. Those religious people believed in the Bible. But they denounced each other, according to their divergent interpretations of those scriptures.
They were not connected with the principles of God’s Kingdom. Similarly, in our time, we have Christians divided on matters of principle. Others believe that God’s Laws ought to be strictly observed, in order to attain salvation.
The other groups denounce those preaching law-keeping, insisting that the Law is done away with, as grace has now taken over. Both have scriptures to back up their stand points. But, like those Jews, those denominations have got nothing to do with God’s Kingdom. See [Unpacking the myth about Law and grace].
They envisage salvation as what is only possible with conditions. They claim allegiance to Jesus, doing everything they view as needing their commitment; to fulfill what they consider necessary to earn salvation. Those people take time to study scriptures, so that they can feel justified, as qualified for the Kingdom.
However, all this leads to disregarding what Jesus taught, thereby, disqualifying themselves: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me”(John 5:39) (ESV).
The cause for misunderstanding is obsession with seeking justification, according to what the Bible teaches, thereby, aiming at obtaining salvation. But all that has got nothing to do with altruism that was advocated by Jesus Christ. See [Personal Salvation vs. God’s Kingdom].
It is only pride that seeks justification, when favorably comparing self with other fellow humans (Luke 18:9-14). This is what causes some people to be adulated, while others are despised. Jesus’ principles projected one attitude, as necessary for salvation—humility.
If I were to reduce the entire principle of the New Testament’s teaching about the gospel to one word; that would simply be ‘HUMILITY.’ Jesus lived that principle, up to His condemnation on the cross (Philippians 2:3-8).
What is mind-boggling is observing the simplicity of this principle—when considering that Theologians, have gone through seminaries and renowned Universities—yet failing to grasp this simplicity?
However, nothing is surprising when taking verbatim what Jesus declared in Matthew 13:11-13. The gospel is not for the proud, who aim for their own salvation, instead of reaching out to the needy, in sinful conditions.
It cannot be possible for the proud to lay down their lives for the sinners, in the same way that Jesus committed Himself to die for all sinners (1 John 3:16). This is why most Christians long for Heaven. They have condemned this sinful world, thereby desiring to be safe in Heaven, while everyone else is condemned? See [Christians love heaven while God loves this world].
Nevertheless, no other selfishness surpasses such warped thinking. Their Savior did not express the passion for Heaven, until His mission was accomplished. If their thinking cannot relate to Jesus, which God are they serving?
True Christians offer everything in their possession, to serve humanity. They do not desire to be in Heaven, but being used by Christ in accomplishing the missions that God allocated them with.
Another interesting thing is that while proud Christians cannot have time for the despised people; Jesus spent more time with the despised. All this reveals the effects of self-centredness as compared with altruism.
The people, who were offended by Jesus’ extraordinary works, were proud. Because of their religiosity, they considered themselves as good people. This is why they were offended by the works of Jesus, who they considered as uneducated (John 7:15). See [Revealing the Christ in Jesus].
Proud people cannot understand, as they often interpret pride according to their evaluation of other people. This is why they think they carry good reasons for denouncing the humble people that God uses to advance the gospel.
As far as they are concerned, it is impossible for God to ever use the despised people. Yet, by that interpretation alone, they denounce the one they desire to be their Savior, thereby confirming what Jesus declared:
“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand”(Matthew 13:13)(ESV). The only frustrating passage is in verse 12, where Jesus reiterates that even what they have will be taken away from them??
Indeed, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to help a proud person. God’s Kingdom is for the humble ones, said to be those who are poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). The announcement of God’s Kingdom to the proud can also be an extremely dangerous expedition.
It portrays the only danger that also led to Jesus’ murder. That same danger caused the imprisonment of the early disciples, whose enemies were not necessarily, non-religious people, but those claiming to stand for God. Apparently, pride is the only formidable opponent of the gospel. Yet the origin of pride is well-known, in Christian circles. See [The only technique of reversing an evil system].
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99