My husband, Bob, is a biology prof at a small college in a small Midwestern town. His classes have been very unique, sometimes only comprised of, say, five or so students learning genetics or molecular biology. I mention this by way of context, since despite the small size, he also has plenty of office hours, and even with those, is quite flexible and available, and has even had an occasion of a personal phone call or two about an upcoming test.
In other words, he makes his knowledge very accessible to his students.
Unfortunately, in the 25+ years that he has prof’d at this college, I have heard plenty about the genre of students who don’t bother to utilized what he so generously offers, don’t even show up for lecture or lab…and thus the “down notices” go out needlessly. He hates that, because he does everything he can to help his students succeed.
So, I get a little confused when the greatest Teacher in the universe had this exchange with His crew. Jesus has just told a “large crowd” the famous parable of the farmer planting seed on different kinds of ground and getting the varied results. After the people disperse:
“His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He replied, ‘You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’”
Whoa! That seems a bit harsh. Didn’t these others lay down their hammers and turn the stove on simmer just so they could come hear Him? Just what is Jesus expecting here? At least in my 21st century mind it seems more than a bit unfair, even “unloving”…
…unless it’s read in context with the part that proceeds it (also spoken by the greatest Teacher, BTW):
“When he had said this, [that is, the parable*] he called out, ‘Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.’”
That’s an open invitation to the “large crowd” if ever there was one. Open door policy, office hours posted, here’s my home phone number. Got a question? I have the answer. Didn’t understand something in lecture? Let’s break it down again,…and again. Missed something in the lab? Let me help you focus the microscope a little.
It’s not a matter of God’s availability or desire, but of our intention and effort, and persistence. I repeat, anyone in that “large crowd” would have been welcomed within the circle of students asking for the explanation.
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
He also said something about knocking. The office door may be shut, but it’s never locked. (His plan really is for us to succeed!)
Luke 8:9,10; Luke 8:8; Jeremiah 29:13 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.