Understanding the parables (Lk 8:10-8:10)

“Jesus said.

‘To you

It has been given

To know the secrets

Of the kingdom

Of God.

But to others,

I speak in parables.

Thus,

Looking,

They may not perceive!

Listening,

They may not understand!’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ, τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς, ἵνα βλέποντες μὴ βλέπωσιν καὶ ἀκούοντες μὴ συνιῶσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) to his disciples that they would be able to understand the secrets (Ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια) of the kingdom of God (τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ).  But to others (τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς), he would be speaking in parables or riddles (ἐν παραβολαῖς).  Thus, these people might look (ἵνα βλέποντες), but not see (μὴ βλέπωσιν).  They might listen (καὶ ἀκούοντες), but not understand (μὴ συνιῶσιν).  This response of Jesus about the meaning of parables can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:11-12, and Matthew, chapter 13:11-15, and here.  Matthew and Mark also said that Jesus told his disciples that they had been given knowledge concerning the secret mysteries about the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God.  However, this was not granted to others.  Matthew had Jesus explain that those who had more knowledge, even more abundant knowledge would be given to them.  However, those who had nothing, even what little they had would be taken away.  The reason that Jesus spoke in parables was that some people might see, but not perceive what they saw, while other people might hear but not understand what they have heard.  For people outside their disciple group, everything was still in parables or riddles.  Only those on the inside would understand these parables, while those outside the inner circle of Jesus would not understand these riddles.  This was almost like a gnostic interpretation of knowledge, where only the elite insiders had a true secret knowledge about the mysteries and the kingdom of God and heaven.  Matthew also had a long citation from Isaiah, chapter 6:9-10, about the people unable to understand, while Luke, and Mark had only a short summary statement.  Isaiah told the Israelite people that they were listening without comprehending.  They were looking without understanding.  Their hearts were dull and their eyes and ears were closed.  They were experiencing and listening, but they could not hear or understand.  Do you understand what you see and hear?

Do you not understand? (Mk 8:17-8:17)

“Jesus became aware

Of this.

He said to them.

‘Why are you talking

About not having

Any bread?

Do you still not

Perceive

Or understand?

Are your hearts

Hardened?’”

 

καὶ γνοὺς λέγει αὐτοῖς Τί διαλογίζεσθε ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε; οὔπω νοεῖτε οὐδὲ συνίετε; πεπωρωμένην ἔχετε τὴν καρδίαν ὑμῶν;

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 16:8.  However, this reprimand is much sharper.  Jesus became aware or knew of their discussions (καὶ γνοὺς).  He asked them (λέγει αὐτοῖς) why were they worried, talking, or debating (Τί διαλογίζεσθε) about not having any bread (ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε)?  Jesus wanted to know if they still did not perceive (οὔπω νοεῖτε) or understand (οὐδὲ συνίετε) because of their hardened hearts (πεπωρωμένην ἔχετε τὴν καρδίαν ὑμῶν).  These disciples were missing the point about Jesus, since he would provide nourishment for them.  Instead of calling them men of little faith, as Matthew did, Mark implies that Jesus seemed to indicate that they were stupid with hard hearts.

Jesus wants them to listen and understand (Mk 7:14-7:14)

“Then Jesus called

The crowd again.

He said

To them.

‘Listen to me!

All of you!

Understand!’”

 

Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος πάλιν τὸν ὄχλον ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς Ἀκούσατέ μου πάντες καὶ σύνετε.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:10.  Mark indicated that Jesus turned from the Pharisees and his disciples to the crowds.  Somehow, Jesus called back the crowd to himself (Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος).  He told the crowd again (πάλιν τὸν ὄχλον ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς) in the imperative to hear or listen and understand or perceive (Ἀκούσατέ μου πάντες καὶ σύνετε) all about what he was saying.

How do you give gifts? (Mk 4:24-4:24)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Pay attention

To what you hear!

The measure you give

Will be the measure

You get.

Still more

Will be given you.”

 

Καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς Βλέπετε τί ἀκούετε. ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖν, καὶ προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.

 

Mark indicated that Jesus said to his disciples (Καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς) that they should pay attention, perceive, and discern whatever they hear (Βλέπετε τί ἀκούετε).  Whatever they used as a measuring rod (ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε), it would be the same measuring stick used on them (μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖν).  This last phrase is exactly the same as in Luke, chapter 6:38, which was also like Matthew, chapter 7:2, who was talking about judging others, so that they would not be judged.  Whatever judgment they made they would be judged the same way.  Finally, Jesus said that more would be added to them (καὶ προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν).

The citation from Isaiah (Mk 4:12-4:12

“Thus,

They may indeed look,

But not perceive.

They may indeed listen,

But not understand.

Thus,

They may not

Turn again

To be forgiven.”

 

ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν, μή ποτε ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς.

 

This citation of Isaiah about the people unable to understand the meaning of parables can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels.  Matthew, chapter 13:14-16, had a longer citation from Isaiah with an introduction and a final comment, while Luke, chapter 8:10, had a short summary, like here in Mark.  This prophecy of Isaiah was from chapter 6:9-10, where Isaiah told the people that they were listening without comprehending.  They were looking without understanding.  Their hearts were dull.  Their eyes and ears were closed.  He wanted them not to look with their own eyes, but he wanted them to turn to Yahweh, so that they would be healed.  Mark indicated that they could see, but not perceive (καὶ βλέποντες βλέπωσιν).  They were experiencing and listening (καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες), but they could not hear or understand (ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν).  They would not turn back (καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν) and be forgiven (καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς).  The reason that Jesus spoke in parables was that some people would see, but not perceive. They would hear, but not understand what they heard.

The yeast of the Pharisees (Mt 16:11-16:12)

“How could you fail

To perceive

That I was not speaking

To you

About bread?

Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees

And Sadducees!’

Then they understood

That he had not told them

To beware

Of the yeast of the bread,

But of the teaching

Of the Pharisees

And Sadducees.”

 

πῶς οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι οὐ περὶ ἄρτων εἶπον ὑμῖν; προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.

τότε συνῆκαν ὅτι οὐκ εἶπεν προσέχειν ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν ἄρτων, ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ τῆς διδαχῆς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, via Matthew, asked the disciples how they could not perceive or understand (πῶς οὐ νοεῖτε) that he was not speaking to them about bread (ὅτι οὐ περὶ ἄρτων εἶπον ὑμῖν).  Instead, he was warning them about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων).  Finally, they understood (τότε συνῆκαν) that he was not talking to them about the yeast in bread (ὅτι οὐκ εἶπεν προσέχειν ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν ἄρτων), but the yeast of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees (ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ τῆς διδαχῆς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.).  Once again, Jesus, via Matthew, took a shot at both the Pharisees and Sadducees, but not the Scribes.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Sadducees, on the other hand, were generally aristocratic priestly officials, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications.  They were less concerned about oral traditions, so that they might have been political religious rivals to the Pharisees.  However, Jesus warned his disciples against both groups and their teaching yeasts.

Jesus reminds them of the multiplication of the loaves (Mt 16:9-16:10)

“Do you still not perceive?

Do you not remember

The five loaves

For the five thousand?

Do you not remember

How many hand baskets

You gathered?

Do you not remember

The seven loaves

For the four thousand?

Do you not remember

How many big wicker baskets

You gathered?”

 

οὔπω νοεῖτε, οὐδὲ μνημονεύετε τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους τῶν πεντακισχιλίων καὶ πόσους κοφίνους ἐλάβετε;

οὐδὲ τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους τῶν τετρακισχιλίων καὶ πόσας σπυρίδας ἐλάβετε;

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 8:18-21, where the disciples responded to these questions.  Jesus clearly reminded them of the two times that he had multiplied the loaves of bread.  Was that not good enough for them?  They did not yet seem to understand or perceive what was going on (οὔπω νοεῖτε).  Did they not remember (οὐδὲ μνημονεύετε) the 5 loaves of bread for the 5,000 people (τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους τῶν πεντακισχιλίων) and all the fragments that they gathered in the hand baskets that was left over, since it had just happened in chapter 14:30-31?  Did they not remember (οὐδὲ) how they had 7 loaves of bread for the 4,000 people (τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους τῶν τετρακισχιλίων) and the many big baskets of fragments were gathered of left overs (καὶ πόσας σπυρίδας ἐλάβετε), since that had just happened in chapter 15:32-38?  How could they be so forgetful?