And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,Mark 4:11(NASB)
Jesus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel as the Good Shepherd. He came to save His people from their sin. He was the One Whom Scripture promised would come to set up His kingdom of peace and prosperity on earth.
Jesus came to the Jew FIRST, to fulfil God's unconditional covenant to Abraham, and His coming to Bethlehem in the land of Judah was one of numerous prophecies given to Israel, so they would recognise the eternal Son of His love - Whom God gave to be the Child, born of a virgin, "so that whosoever believes on HIM would not perish but have everlasting life."
The many signs, wonders, and miracles He performed, authenticated His claim to be Israel's Messiah. He was great David's greater Son. Prophets of old recorded the signs He would perform, and presented Israel with numerous prophecies, so they would be sure to recognise Him when He arrived. They were to acknowledge Him as Lord and crown Him as King of kings. Shepherds were alerted. Wise men searched, and after 400 years of silence from the Lord, John the Baptist was the prophetic voice crying in the wilderness, "prepare ye the way of the Lord."
The Mosaic Law, the feasts of the Lord, the Aaronic priesthood, the sacrificial offering, the wilderness Tabernacle, and Solomonic Temple, were all signposts that pointed the people to Jesus. He was to be welcomed as the One Who would crush the head of the serpent. He was to shepherd His people Israel.
He was the anointed One for Whom they had been waiting since the first Passover, when God called His people out of Egypt to be His adopted son and chosen nation. He was the One through Whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. He was the One Who will bring in an era of peace and prosperity, where Israel would be the head and not the tail of the nations.
But when He arrived, Jesus did not fit in with their predetermined expectation, and there was a certain point in Christ's ministry when the leaders of the Jews committed the unforgivable sin - they attributed the Spirit's work through Christ, to Beelzebub.
However, it was not only the Scribes and Pharisees who misunderstood His mission. The people of Israel expected their Messiah would be a mighty man of war, like King David, who would come like a conquering hero and bring the hated Roman empire to its knees.
It was from the point in Christ's ministry where priests and people misunderstood His message and ministry, that the style of His teaching changed from claiming to be Israel's King and proclaiming kingdom principles to the disinterested masses, to preparing the little flock of believers for a different message and ministry, by teaching kingdom mysteries to His committed disciples - through parables.
Parables were often used by Jewish rabbis to illustrate a point or clarify their teaching, but Jesus used them to conceal the truth from those who would not believe. Jesus used parables to provide revelation and understanding to those who would believe, while making His words unintelligible and incoherent to those whose heart was hardened against Him.
Christ's parabolic teachings acted as a filter which permitted His message to be received by those who would believe. It allowed the truth to percolate into the hearts of believers, while being incomprehensible and discarded by sceptics and those who followed Him for selfish motives, while rejecting the truth He taught.
As soon as Jesus was alone, His faithful followers, together with the twelve, questioned Him about His teaching in parables. Using a quote from Isaiah the prophet, He told them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but for those who are outside, everything will be told in parables." The people of Christ's time were reacting to His message and ministry in the same way that the masses in Isaiah's day reacted to his message and ministry.
In the days of Isaiah and other holy men of God, the proud people of Israel were being called to repent of their apostate ways and turn back to God or they would be punished for their sin. And the same attitude prevailed during Christ's ministry, when He proclaimed His message of salvation and called the nation to repent, proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was near. Jesus was warning the people that if they did not receive Him, they would die in their sin.
The generation in Israel that walked with Jesus on the way, were healed of all their diseases. They were fed with five loaves and two small fishes, and heard Him cry, "come to ME all who are weary and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." But they refused to repent of their sin. They would not turn back to God, nor would they believe on Jesus Christ, Whom He sent to be the propitiation for their sin. They were a generation that heard the kingdom message with their ears, but the mystery of the kingdom of God was hidden from their understanding, because their hearts were hardened against the Lord.
But a generation in Israel is coming who will hear the truth and be saved. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the land and that generation will believe. The mysteries of the kingdom, which were hidden from the last generation in Israel, will become an open book to the next. They will recognise Jesus as their Messiah and King during the Time of Jacob's Trouble, and this coming generation will fulfil Christ own prophetic word - for they WILL see Him when they cry out to Him for salvation with one, united voice, "blessed is He, Who comes in the name of the Lord - Hosanna in the Highest."
Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You that the mysteries of the kingdom have become an open book to those who believe on You, and Jesus Christ, Whom You sent. Thank You that I know Him as the eternal Son that was given to be the human Child Who was born to be Saviour of the world and King of Israel. Keep the eyes of my heart ever open to the Holy Spirit's voice and give me a teachable spirit. Open the eyes and hearts of those who remain dead in their sin, especially Your people, Israel. I rejoice to know that a generation of Your people will one day recognise Jesus as Messiah and welcome Him as their Saviour. Thank You that You are a God of such compassion and grace. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.