In this week's Bible reading from Mark 4:26-34, Jesus tells a couple of parables. They’re 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 right at the end of the reading, there’s something I think gets lost. It says that Jesus always talked to the people in riddle-talk-- parables. But he 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 and argue 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.