In a followup blog post to last week's entry at i.ucc.org, I've written a new Bible reflection about Mark 4:26-34. It's called 'Some explaining to do." (Though I thought of calling it "More riddle-talk.")
More seeing but not perceiving, hearing but not understanding. But now there's some explaining happening.
In the blog article relating to Isaiah 6:1-8 (and 9-10) I posed the possibility that the "Seeing but not perceiving, hearing but not understanding" lines from both Isaiah and Jesus quoting Isaiah were an invitation to dig deeper rather than a command or "reality statement" that some people were never going to understand the words or their meaning.
In one of this week's Bible readings, Mark 4:26-34, Jesus tells more parables. This time they are about farming and about how plants grow. He talks about the tiny mustard seed and the large plant that comes from it. You may have heard the phrase, "The faith of a mustard seed" referring to how small things begin and how amazingly large they can become through faith in God.
And again I find interest in a verse right at the end of the reading. In verses 33 and 34 the explanation that Jesus always talked to the people in riddle-talk -- parables. But Jesus would do further explanation to the disciples in private.
There is more to learn! There is more to understand! There is more to seek! Jesus talked about these things with his disciples. He got into smaller groups and really hashed out the stories. Jesus and the disciples were involved in what I think we would describe as "midrash" -- where rabbis and students discuss scripture and the possible meanings. They tend to look at things from several angles and try to really chew on things as they seek deeper and deeper meaning.
I think Jesus example of digging deeper into the stories with the disciples further supports the idea that the stories weren't meant to turn people away or to confuse them to the point of giving up. They were an invitation to learn more.
Our discussions here are also an invitation. Let's engage each other and engage the Bible. Let's continue to seek deeper meaning in what the still-speaking God reveals.