He answered and said unto them, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” ~ Matthew 13:10-13
After Jesus told the crowds that followed him the parable of the sower, His disciples asked Him why He spoke to the people in parables (as seen above in our text, Matthew 13:10-13). Jesus answered them, saying that (1) His disciples had been afforded special insight that wasn’t bestowed on everyone and (2) those that “have (hath)” would gain more, but those that didn’t have (hath not) would be left without a trace. At first glance, Jesus’ answer can appear somewhat troubling: it seems completely unfair.
Why would only some get a blessing, why not everybody?
Why did those that have, get more and those that didn’t have be left with nothing?
Perhaps the key to unraveling this conundrum is to first discover what is this thing that some have, but others don’t have.
For the answer, Matthew 25:14-30 (the Parable of the Talents) provides us with a useful starting point. In particular, let’s examine vv. 25-30
“And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wicked and slothful servant… Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” ~ Matthew 25: 25, 26a, 28-30
The basic difference between the one that hid the talent and the other servants (who used their talents to gain more) was their ATTITUDE toward their master. And that distinction is so important that it was the deciding factor between salvation and damnation (v. 30). The master had placed each one of them in charge of some of his money, albeit of varying amounts. But, it was their attitude, their disposition, towards their master that determined how they used the money they were allotted.
The servant that refused to try to increase his master’s wealth had be given the least money and, therefore, he had the least risk. With the least to lose, he was best poised to invest the talent. But his bad attitude toward his master blinded him: he could not see/perceive his advantage. Likewise, a bad attitude toward God, prevents us from seeing His grace and mercy.
The servant that hid the talent/money saw his master as unjust (v. 25), he therefore had no faith in his master’s goodness. From his viewpoint, the talent/money his master invested in him was a liability, a burden.
To better understand why attitude is so important, let’s examine Romans 1:18-21:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” ~ Romans 1:18-21
Everyone receives a “natural”/innate revelation of God (v. 19-20). But some (v. 21) reject/hide/deny that revelation. And those who do so, lose the (“natural”/innate) revelation they had in the first place. They veer off the strait of salvation into the darkness of damnation (their foolish heart was darkened).
However, those who respond correctly to the (“natural”/innate) revelation of God by seeking a greater (i.e., ordained, Biblical) revelation; they gain salvation. The ones who respond correctly do so because they have the right attitude to God: they want to serve Him, they want to please their master.
The servants knew who their master was; they knew his character. The real problem for the servant that hid the talent was that he did not want to work for his master. Our problem with God, is not that God is unknowable, unfair, mysterious, etc. Rather, our problem with God is that serving Him takes us away from our own agenda. If God is my master, then I can’t be my master. If I can’t be my master, if I can’t get my way, then I would rather not do anything. And certainly, I don’t want to do anything to expand His kingdom: to confirm His power over me.
That brings us back to Matthew 13:12.
The people who followed Jesus were mixed in their intentions. Some were seeking God and some were not, e.g., most of the Pharisees had already rejected God. Some had the right attitude, while some wanted to be their own god.
The truth of Jesus’ teaching was meant for and ONLY accessible to those who were seeking God, those who had/hath the right attitude: those who “hath” the desire to serve their Master.
Conversely, the ones who rejected God, the ones that “hath not” the right attitude, were unable to understand Jesus’s teaching. Their minds were darkened (Romans 1:21).
To those who sought God, He gave them understanding (vs. 11). And, as their faith grew, they had even more faith. As they understood Jesus’ Word, they could understand even more. As the served God, their service grew.
For those who had no faith in God, those who were unwilling to serve Him, they lost everything, “their foolish hearts were darkened” and they lost their way.