In Mark 4:2 we are told, “And [Jesus] taught them many things by parables.” Imagine what happened with the majority of that crowd after they went home. Neighbors crowded around them, anxious to know what Jesus had said: “What message did He bring? Tell us all you learned.” Those who had heard Him might have been able to repeat His parables but their words would have been dead, lifeless, with no impact or life-changing power.
I believe the same thing happens in Christ’s Church today. The word
that goes forth from many pulpits is dead-letter, with no Holy Spirit
revelation or power to deliver from sin. Then, when the people go home,
many of them merely repeat the word they’ve heard without the life of
the Spirit. What a contrast to the hungry disciples and the others who
remained followers of Christ in this scene. These people represent
everyone who hungers for God’s Word, and who will pursue Jesus at any
cost to get it. They comprise a “Queen of Sheba Company,” servants who
want Christ’s life-changing revelation.
How does Jesus respond to their pursuit? He says, “Unto you it is
given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are
without, all things are done in parables” (Mark 4:11). The Greek word for mystery
here means secrets. In short, Christ reveals His secrets only to those
who hunger for life-changing truth. He is saying, “If you want answers
to your hard questions, pursue Me. Spend time with Me. I’ll reveal My
Word to you, and show you truth that others don’t see.”
So, who are those “that are without” (Mark 4:11)?
Jesus is referring to the multitudes who are not willing to wait upon
Him. They won’t give up their comforts to do what is necessary to train
their ear to His voice. They may come to church regularly and seek the
Lord to meet all their human needs, but they’re not interested in
knowing His voice beyond His ability to provide for them. His freeing
truth remains a bafflement to them, a series of unopened riddles.