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Mark 4 v 10 - 12

A couple of explanations before we study these verses. Firstly, the parable of the Sower is considered generally to be the 'gateway' parable, that is to say that we learn how to look at parables generally through studying and reading Jesus' interpretation of this parable. Secondly, the general bystander or member of the crowd would not have heard the parable's interpretation and would have gone on their way with their mind full of the story and asking questions, such as ''How is the Kingdom of God like this or like that?''. Also, there is a mystery to following Jesus and only those who are committed to the journey are given answers. There would have been many in the crowd who found Jesus interesting and at time sensational, but who would not have made the commitment to follow Him. I have known many people who have shown interest in Jesus, who have perhaps attended church a few times, perhaps attended part of an Alpha course, but yet have never got off the fence!

Inevitably, God shares His secrets with His friends, those He can trust. I was reading a book yesterday and it said about Abraham's conversation with God over the fate of Sodom- Genesis 18 v 17-33- and the LORD has this conversation with Himself: ''Shall I hide my plan from Abraham?'' He asks and goes on to reveal His punishment of that city. Yes, God loves everyone, but love reciprocated encourages love and trust to grow.

This passage records that Jesus only interpreted the parable of the Sower to His friends: the Twelve and the outer circle of His followers, amongst them the women who did so much to make His ministry possible. Interestingly, verse 12 can be interpreted either that Jesus deliberately hid the meaning of what He was saying so that men and women didn't understand and then follow Him or that Jesus spoke in parables so that they could see the invisible reality of God's Kingdom through the visible and commonplace. In explanation, Jesus quotes from Isaiah 6 v 9, 10 which is from the calling of Isaiah through the vision He received. Both for Isaiah and Jesus, they were only too aware that the truths of their proclamations would bring division: either the listeners would hear the Truth, respond to it and be saved or they would be so blinded by prejudice or too lazy to think that it would make no sense to them. Jesus is here reminding His followers that the work of the Holy Spirit brings into sharp relief those who would follow and those who would never do it. The time of sitting on the fence and being nice to other people is over: every person has to choose!

There have been times for me, and I'm sure for you too, when I'm talking to someone about God, that I can see a kind of veil going down over their eyes and I know that they have decided not to listen. 'There is none so blind as those who won't see' is a very apt saying for them!

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