Matthew 13 contains a number of the parables, or stories, He told.
"Once upon a time, there was…" is a familiar phrase that tells children everywhere that story time is about to begin. For Jesus, many of His stories began: "The Kingdom is Heaven is like…" Tucked away among the parables of Matthew 13 are two short ones found in 13:44 (The Hidden Treasure) and 13:45, 46 (The Pearl). Both describe men who discovered something precious and went out and sold everything they had so that they could buy what was beyond price.
To many people the parables were simply stories. The message of the illustration was not understood. One of the greatest frustrations to a storyteller is to have the audience miss the point of the story. This is among the greatest frustrations of those who share the Gospel.
But it shouldn't be a surprise. At the beginning of Chapter 13, Jesus explains: "You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don't really see. They hear what I say, but they don't really hear, and they don't understand" (13:11-13, NLT).
We believe that people should understand the simple truths of God explained in the simplest way possible. We wonder at their blindness and deafness. The truth is, as it always has been, that unless the Spirit of God opens those blind eyes and unstops those deaf ears, it really doesn't matter how simple the story or how clear the truth.
Jesus said: "…he will convince the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment" (John 16:8, NLT).
In the meantime, we tell the story because we never know who might be REALLY listening or REALLY seeing the Truth. We don't know where, in whom, or how the Spirit has been working. What we do know is that the Truth is worth everything we can give to possess it and every effort we can make to share it.