10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 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 12 so that,Mark 4:10-12
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”
Jesus quotes from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, chapter 6:9-10. It’s Isaiah’s prophetic instructions from the Lord. Here’s Isaiah’s divine job description: “go to my people and preach to them, but be forewarned: they aren’t going to listen. However, if they ever did listen, then things would change for them immediately.” Basically, God sends Isaiah to the Israelites out of an abundance of forbearance and grace.
So, when Jesus quotes Isaiah, he is not saying that he wants to confuse people; rather, he is identifying himself with the prophetic mission: to preach to people who won’t listen. The Parable of the Sower is about the many people who won’t listen; but if only they would, then great things would happen: “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20).
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