Mark 4:10-12 reads, “As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 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, so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN’” (NASB).

It’s important to understand that at this point in time the nation of Israel, as a whole, had rejected the message concerning the kingdom that Jesus (and before Him, John the Baptist) preached to them. The message was very short and to the point; it is summed up in Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” The time that many of the Old Testament prophets had foretold had come, for Israel’s Messiah was now among them. If they would “repent and believe the gospel,” He would establish the kingdom in power and glory. But they refused to acknowledge their sins and they rejected Jesus, thinking He was merely a man who was delusional and guilty of blasphemy because of His claim to be their King and the Son of God.

Because of this mass rejection by His people, Jesus began to describe the kingdom in the new form in which it would take. He did this by using parables. A “parable” is “a spiritual lesson taught from illustrations in nature or human circumstances.” This “new teaching” about the kingdom is called a “mystery,” which is a truth that had never been revealed, but is now made known through a special revelation from God. Jesus tells His disciples and followers, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God,” for they were true children of God and God is pleased to reveal His “family secrets” to those who had “ears to hear” and “hearts that would obey Him.” We could say of them that “they were on the inside.” But those who had openly rejected the Lord Jesus and His offer of the kingdom were “those who are outside.” They would NOT have the truth contained in the parables revealed to them. This is solemn, for it teaches us that if one rejects the light of God’s Word, there may come a time when God will cause them to be “judicially blinded,” as was the case with those in Jesus’ day. He would still perform miracles before them, yet they would “see and not perceive.” They would still hear Him preach the word, but they would “hear and not understand.” They would neither understand nor appreciate the spiritual truth that was being presented to them, and thus they would never be forgiven!

Let this be a lesson to all who read these words. One has said, “There is such a thing as hearing the gospel for the last time. It is possible to sin away the day of grace. Men do drift beyond redemption point…and will never again have the opportunity to repent and be forgiven.” My prayer is that this will NOT be true of any of you. May you indeed turn to the Savior of sinners and believe the gospel, before your heart becomes “gospel hardened” and you reach the point of no return! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). (252.3) (DO)