The “Has-es” and the “Has-nots” by Patrick O'Connell

In Matthew 13:10 Jesus is alone with his disciples after proclaiming to the crowds the famous "Parable of the Sower." The disciples ask him,

Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

I don't know about you, but the first time I read this I was offended. I mean, Jesus’ reply just didn't fit with my understanding of his character. Where is the love in simply dividing the population into those who have been given special knowledge and those who have not? Doesn’t this smack of stoic fatalism? Is there no hope for change?

Then, in verse 15 he says, “For this people's heart has become calloused.”

So what does "calloused hearts" have to do with speaking in parables? Is Jesus choosing to speak in parables because he knows that if he speaks directly about kingdom realities to certain people he would prematurely expose the condition of their hearts?  Would speaking more directly possibly stir up anger, creating more, not less resistance to understanding the ways and the truths of the Kingdom? Perhaps by using parables he’s making space for a variety of responses: those with calloused, unbelieving hearts might dismiss his story as mere nonsense, they might derive a partial understanding of his wisdom, or they might leave pondering his words until the spirit of God reveals truth … eventually leading to repentance and new life.

Often in my relationships I do not exhibit such patience and foresight. I love to talk with those, who like me, appreciate and enjoy searching scripture to mine the multiple gems and wise perspectives that it contains. However, if I run into somebody who doesn't share my appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the word of God, fearing disapproval, I quickly change the subject. Whereas Jesus, despising the shame, lovingly continued to share about the Kingdom, asking his father for a catchy story to illustrate truths.   

So in the end, Jesus is concerned about the "has-nots”. I believe our Father is graciously inviting us to share in the joy of creating heart softening stories. If we followers of Jesus commit ourselves to look for those God-orchestrated opportunities to talk with our friends/ neighbors/ family/ coworkers, asking him to help us find parable-like personal stories about how we experience new life, then God might just use these to reveal to them one or more of the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven.