Was reading this week in Mark 4. Here Jesus has been teaching the crowds in parables. And then we are told in verse 10: “And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said, ‘To you has been given the secret of the
Here is what I wondered: Jesus says that His disciples have the key to really understanding the parables. Yet, in the next verse the disciples don't understand the parable, and Jesus must explain it. I thought, "If the disciples have the key to unlock the parables then why must Jesus explain it to them?" Then I wondered if the question didn't carry the answer. They had Jesus. Jesus was the key. Jesus is the one who is able to open His Word to us that we might understand it and see the wonders of God in it and begin to change or own dull and dreary hearts.
We need the same thing if we are to really understand God's Word and God's kingdom. We need Jesus or perhaps more accurately for us--we need the Spirit of Christ. Jesus, himself, said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things" (John 14:26).
Even as I write this, though, I see a pitfall. It is easy to misuse this doctrine and to say, "Studying and thinking are not important. We just need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding." In 2 Timothy 2:7 Paul commands Timothy, "Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." Notice: Who will give understanding? Understanding is a gift of God--God gives it-- just like we said above. What is the means that God uses to give us understanding? Thinking over what we read! Study and hard thinking have a place as we seek more understanding. We study, and we think, and we ask Jesus to give us understanding!
I'll end with a quote from John Piper, "So by all means pray and ask God to give you the light you need. But don't replace thinking with praying. Think and pray. Pray and think. This is the way God has set it up. A historical Christ. A book of preservation and revelation. All of that says: read and study and ransack and think. But all is in vain without prayer. Both-and, not either-or."