With many other analogies he spoke the Teachings to them, according to their ability to hear. Yet he only spoke in analogies to them – but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone. Then the same day, when evening came, he told them, “Let’s travel over to the other side.” After they had sent away the crowd, they brought him in a boat and with them were other boats. Then a great storm arose, and the wind and waves beat against the boat – filling it up. Yet he was at the stern of the boat – asleep on a pillow. They awoke him, saying, “Master, don’t you care that we will die?” Then he stood up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace – be still.” And the wind stopped and it became very calm. (Mark 4:33-39)
Why would Jesus lay out his teachings in cryptic parables to the public, only to explain them in private to his students later?
We find the answer in the scriptures:
“To you is given the knowledge of the mystery of the sanctuary of God – but to those who are outside are given everything with analogies – so while seeing they may see yet not perceive; and hearing they may hear yet not understand – or else at any point they will become worshipers and their offenses be forgiven.” (Mark 4:11-12)This method is significantly different from the method we find from many sectarian teachers.
For example, sometimes see public street preachers threatening us about how the world is going to end soon and we had better surrender to Jesus before the world ends or else.
We also find other sectarian fanatics trying to force people to join their religion or institution under threat of persecution - even sometimes beheading or stoning.
Both of these kinds of fanatics think they can scare or force us to surrender to God or Jesus.
Yet certainly, if God wanted to, He could threaten us Himself if He wanted to. Yet He doesn't.
The Supreme Being has nothing lacking in terms of force or power. He could not only threaten us - He could force us to surrender to Him.
Yes, if God wanted to force us to surrender to Him, He could do it Himself.
Is this what Jesus was doing? Threatening people? Quite the contrary. Jesus was actually hiding the Truth within his parables.
Why Jesus spoke in parables
Why would Jesus' teachings not be available to everyone equally?
We find here that not only did Jesus speak in parables, but Jesus limited his teachings to 'as much as they could understand.'
What does this mean? It means he would only teach them to the limit of their understanding - and their desire.
Let's use an example. Consider children in the first grade. How much of the teacher's lessons will the children understand?
This depends upon the extent they want to learn, right? One child could go into class and ignore the teacher while playing games with their friends. Another child could make the decision to listen to the teacher and learn a lot more.
What is the difference between the two children? Is one smart and the other dumb? No. One child decided they wanted to learn something while the other didn't. The one that didn't became distracted by their friends and played around in class rather than listening to the teacher.
We find the same thing with regard to many people who surrounded Jesus. It is not as if Jesus' disciples were necessarily more educated than those in the crowds that gathered during his lectures.
But Jesus' disciples had made a decision about their lives: They each wanted to learn about God.
This decision means they made a choice to return to their forgotten relationship with God. And because they made this decision, God directed Jesus - who is God's representative - to teach each of them about the Supreme Being. Jesus confirmed this:
“Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but He who sent me is true. You do not know Him, but I know him because I am from Him and He sent me.” (John 7:28-29)
Yes, it all comes down to a decision.
This decision - or choice - is ours as individuals. Each of us was given the choice of free will by the Supreme Being. We each have the decision of whether we want to return to our relationship with Him or not.
Why? Without free will in this decision, there could be no love. Just imagine a God that created His children in such a way that they were forced to love Him: They had no choice. Would that really be love?
Certainly not. They would be robots or clones. Whatever you call it, they could not truly love God if they didn't have the choice not to love Him.
And the Supreme Being wants real love. He doesn't want fakers. He doesn't want people to pretend they are religious or pretend they are holy. This is why Jesus condemned this in so many other instances.
It is this very freedom of choice that put us into these temporary physical bodies within this physical world. These facilities are for those who wanted to escape Him. This physical world with all its materialism, fame, wealth, sex and other attractions is specifically designed to distract us from our relationship with Him. They are specifically designed to help us forget our relationship with God.
So how much sense would it make for God to now suddenly decide to force us - either by threatening us with the end of the world or threatening to behead us if we don't surrender to Him after He created this place to allow us to get away from Him?
The freedom to escape
We spoke of a child in the first-grade class above. Now consider that every first grade has breaks so the children can get outside and play in the playground. Would the teacher come out to the playground and start teaching class during the break? Certainly not. Why?
Because the break provides an escape from the classroom.
In the same way, the Supreme Being doesn't want to interrupt our attempt to escape from Him in the physical world. He doesn't interrupt our free will and our past choice to reject Him.
But for those within the physical world who have a change of heart and make a personal decision to return to Him - well that is a different matter.
For those, the Supreme Being sends His representative - one of His loving servants - to enlighten them. For those who make this decision, they are guided, from within in the form of the Holy Spirit - and from without in the form of the spiritual teacher and scripture.
These forms of guidance are both specific and personal. They are laid out proportionate to the extent of that person's desire to return home to God.
In other words, the more serious a person is, the more information they will be given.
For those who just want to be respected by others as being religious or want to just fit into the crowd, the Supreme Being also allows that. For these will hear the puzzling parables and go no further. They will speculate about the meaning of Jesus' parables and not be given the true wisdom behind them. Why? Because they don't want to know more.
Because knowing more will interfere in the desire to enjoy life without the Supreme Being.
In this way, the Supreme Being is continually corresponding to precisely what we choose - to the extent of our choice.
The choice to trust
This also goes for the understanding of Jesus' statement made in the boat when the wind came up:
"Peace - be still!"Was Jesus saying this to the nervous disciples who had woken Jesus up? Or was he saying this to the wind and the water as alluded to by his students?
Both. Jesus was trying to bring peace to the situation. This means quieting down his students and calming the wind and waves.
Should we accept that Jesus was talking to the wind and waves? Do we know that Jesus calmed them?
The scriptures say that he did:
And the wind stopped and it became very calm. (Mark 4:39)This is where we are given a clear choice. Either we can trust that he did. Or we can distrust the scriptures. It is our choice.
It is this type of choice - or trust - that ultimately tests the larger choice each of us makes: Whether we trust in the Supreme Being, or not.
If we trust that the Supreme Being exists - and we trust that His representative has power over wind and water - and we trust that He loves me unconditionally and has the best intentions for me - then we are ultimately trusting that there is a Supreme Person: A Person we can trust.
Aren't we each looking for someone we can trust? People go from one relationship to another these days, looking for someone to trust. They get married only to find their spouse cheats on them. Or lies to them. Then they find another person and find they also lied or cheated at some point.
Yet this is not the world of trust. This world is the place where those who do not trust the Supreme Being go. This is where those who are not to be trusted go. For this reason, it is very difficult to trust anyone in the physical world.
Even those who seem trustworthy cannot be completely trusted here. Why not? Because they have no control over the future. A person we might trust could say that there won't be a storm tomorrow but how could they control that? They could be wrong. Thus we cannot really trust them in the sense that we could rely on everything they say.
Unless of course they are sent by the Supreme Being, as Jesus was.
Yes, the Supreme Being is really the only Person we can ever trust. Because He is not only trustworthy - He is in control.
And the Supreme Being doesn't have anything to lose. He owns everything.
Therefore, we can trust in the Supreme Being.
Do we really need miracles to prove that we can trust God? Nope. We can trust in the Supreme Being simply by looking within ourselves and finding Him right next to us - ready to calm our restless waters within. Patiently waiting for us, and guiding us when we seek His guidance.
(The New Testament verses in this article are quoted from the Gospels of Jesus)