Thesis:There is a danger in holding the Truth at bay even for just a little while.
Introduction:It was the point of our study last week in Luke's presentation of Jesus' use of parable in light of His calling to set up a caution regarding our participation in the actions of the multitudes of people who were seeking Jesus out. It was the very people who were making some level of real effort to go to Jesus who were treated to the "parable" with the clear declaration that Jesus intended for them to not understand. The people were seeking Jesus. The way Luke presented this fact indicates that he wanted his reader(s) to do the same. But what is the point of seeking Jesus if, after you have found Him, He deliberately makes it hard for you to understand Him? To answer that question, we tried to make a case that had two parts: on the one hand, "difficulty" has its place in the edification of the saints; and on the other hand, it is a fact that God often responds to people "in kind". Regarding the first, the overcoming of a problem is precisely how spiritual strength develops. This has illustrations everywhere in our world, the most basic of which is the development of a muscle by subjecting it to resistance, And regarding the second, who can blame God for reacting to people as they react to Him? If God initiates a "good" and men respond with "evil", at some point God is going to yield to their evil and give them what they demand. When Jesus responded to the multitude's efforts (to travel the miles necessary to get to Him) with a parable, He was, essentially, giving them to opportunity to remain in the ignorance of Him that they persisted in demanding. It is one thing to seek Jesus out in order to enter into His "Life"; it is altogether another thing to seek Jesus out in order to get Him to perpetuate the lies of "life".
This morning we are going to pursue this train of thought a bit further down the track. When the disciples asked Jesus, "What might this parable be?" (8:9), Jesus responded with a statement that is found in several places in the Old Testament This morning we are going to look into that Old Testament principle and consider the setting in which Jesus used it and draw a conclusion that will serve us as a second caution. When we put off doing what we know is the right thing to do, we are placing ourselves in serious danger.
I. Jesus' Appeal to the Old Testament Principle.
A. Jesus' statement of the principle.
1. Seeing blocks seeing.
2. Hearing blocks understanding.
a. I have used the word "blocks" because of Isaiah 6:9 in its context.
1) Isaiah 6 is a record of the contrast between the truth about Israel's true King and Israel's treatment of Him.
a) When the "shadow king" died, Isaiah saw the real King.
b) Isaiah's reaction was one of horror because of the way he and Judah had been treating this King.
2) Isaiah 6 is also a record of the King's commissioning of Isaiah to "Go and tell" the people of Judah until the land was decimated.
a) This was, indisputably, a message of judgment.
b) It was to be repeated over and over and over until the people were so used to it that they would fall asleep listening to it.
b. The way it works is this: what is "seen" and "heard" is not what appears to be.
1) In the first place, what "appeared" to be was that the "King" was dead, but nothing could have been further from the truth (only the shadow was dead).
2) Then, what "appeared" to be an acceptable and sufficient manner of life was actually so horrific that, when it was seen in its reality, all Isaiah could do was wail about what was due him and the nation.
3) And, finally, what "appeared" to be a demonstration of God's "pleasure" with the nation (the 'relative' absence of judgment) totally overrode Isaiah's words to the contrary.
B. Jesus' practice of the principle.
1. Isaiah 44:18 in context indicates that God is not "inactive" in the face of man's refusal to allow the Truth to be "true to him".
2. Jeremiah 5:20-24 indicates God's use of the principle just before the hammer fell.
3. Deuteronomy 29:4 is Moses' declaration that the principle has been in force.
4. Romans 11:8-12 is Paul's explanation for why.
5. So Jesus is simply doing what has always been done when the people revolt.
II. The "Setting" in Which Jesus Practiced the Principle.
A. Jesus' "ministry" was all done during the 69th Week of Daniel.
1. This means that it was a the very tail end of Judah's long slide into apostasy.
a. That John the Baptizer could have been reviled and, ultimately, beheaded for his doctrine of "repentance unto forgiveness" and that Jesus could have been crucified for His popularity signals a level of apostasy that is beyond description.
b. The historical reality has always been this: what God does to initiate a glorious reality is incrementally chewed up over time until it has been turned into its opposite.
2. This means that the people of Jesus' day were almost at the point of final corruption.
B. Jesus' "ministry" was completely perverted by the cultural norms.
1. The period of the Law was a period of God's absolute focus upon the total inadequacy of Life's foundations in the "outer man".
a. The promises of the Covenant of Moses were almost all tied to "outer man" realities.
b. The focus was maintained for 1500 years (give or take).
c. The result was: No Life.
2. Jesus' "miracle ministry" was never intended to reinforce the foolish notion that Life has its roots in "outer man" stuff.
a. Jesus healed and cast out demons to establish one reality: His identity as the Coming One.
b. Jesus' activities were taken by the people to simply reinforce their notion that life consists of health and wealth.
C. Jesus' use of "parables" was simply His response of giving people the "shadows" that they insisted were the "truth".
III. The Caution We Must Consider.
A. What did it mean that Jesus could reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom of God by the most obvious descriptions of reality?
1. It has to mean that we are surrounded by, and immersed in, the Truth.
2. It has to mean that the shadows are real approximations of the Realities.
B. What does it mean that people cannot understand His revelations?
1. It has to mean that people are "out of touch", replacing the real with the surreal.
2. It has to mean that we are in grave danger.
3. It has to mean that we need to take the danger and the solution seriously.