Healing the Blind and Deaf

(Mat 13:1-17 NKJV) On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. {2} And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. {3} Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow. {4} "And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. {5} "Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. {6} "But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. {7} "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. {8} "But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. {9} "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" {10} And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" {11} He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. {12} "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. {13} "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. {14} "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; {15} For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.' {16} "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; {17} "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Have you ever wondered just how much it is that we do not hear or do not see? Our theological/existential blinders tend to block out a lot of things. Often that can include the voice of God, or even key Bible passages that just don't quite fit into our belief system. God at times will even yell at us, but like Paul, some of us just have to plain be knocked off our horse to see the light!

God is always attempting to get us to view reality with a new perspective, a perspective which is not of this world. St. Paul describes it as "walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:1-7) Our focus is no longer on the state of the world as it is, but to what it will become in its glorified reality. That includes us as well. We are not to act according to our fallen nature, which has already been crucified with Christ and is dead, but to live according to what we will become in Christ.

This parable of the sower is a parable of why we do not hear and do not see. It evaluates our very fallen nature to show what types of things keep us from seeing and hearing God's reality. In the next few devotionals we will look at these individual aspects of our fallen nature that keep us from union with God. But at this point, we need to see the overall picture. The fact is, that we all in one way or another do not see and do not hear. And our whole movement towards God-likeness is to see and hear God.

God wants to plant His word in our hearts. This "word" is not just the Biblical word, or a sermon of salvation. It is the Word of God, Jesus Christ. It is the grace freely given. The seed which alone can bear fruit in our lives. It may be planted by means of the Biblical word or a sermon. Maybe just the life lived by a radiant Christian testimony before one's eyes. These are the means by which the seed is distributed, the scattering of the seed to the ground. But there is no doubt that the word is the Word. This is the only thing that can bring about salvation, the only thing that will draw us to God-likeness. The only thing that will produce fruit in our lives. Jesus Christ, living and abiding in us in such a way that with Paul we can say it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me. Planted deep into my heart and soul. Bearing fruit in our lives.

Yet, if anything, we sense that we have fallen short of this experience. We tend to live according to the flesh more than by the Spirit. We focus on the things and problems of this world, forgetting that this is not the final reality. That our ways are not His ways, but His reality is the final reality. And it is a reality which we only see as through a glass darkly. We catch glimpse of it in the Holy Scriptures, in the parables, in the revelation of God in Christ. Yet it is a reality which we innately sense is a reality apart from our own. We are so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good. Do we attempt to escape this reality in order to obtain the spiritual one? This is not the gospel message, for Christ came in the *flesh* in order to redeem sinful flesh; in order to bring back the flesh to what it was created to be. We are to seek to transform through God's grace this reality into what God created this reality to be.

This requires an acknowledgement of our lack of understanding. We must realize first of all that we do not see, that we do not hear. That our preconceived notions about God; our man- made definitions of the faith fall far short of what that reality really is. There is so much of God's reality that we do not see and do not hear.

We are afraid of the unknown, and so we attempt to know it all. We want it all mapped out. Our theology must be "systematic" and complete. We don't like any holes in it. Yet we can show that there has never been a theology of man that at some point does not break down. We can come up with the most elaborate theologies. We can map out the depths of Biblical and theological knowledge, and yet, there are holes. We can never seem to eliminate the "unknown".

This only comes as we see that "understanding" is not a result of having it all figured out, a rational systematic understanding in objective knowledge of God and His reality. It is when we approach God as a relationship instead of a systematic theology of God, a study of God; we find both a holistic knowledge of God founded in an experience of Him even with the "holes" present. The "unknown" no longer is a defect in our understanding of God, but a necessary part of it if we are to maintain who God is.

So what keeps us from truly understanding God, from seeing God, from hearing God, is not a lack of knowledge, but those things in our lives that prevent us from experiencing God's reality as He sees it. This is what the parable deals with. Our blind eyes and deaf ears to God's Word. What areas are you blind and deaf in? As we progress through this parable, maybe that is something that you should attempt to pray within yourself.

May we not be so bound and enslaved to our own theology that we fail to see who and what God is for Himself! Lord have mercy on us all.

In His grace,

Rick