January 17, 2022

Cracking the Code

 Devotion for the Week...

I love to read and historical fiction is one of my go-to genres. I particularly enjoy books set during WWII, though I am forever grateful that those stories are my fiction and not my reality. One WWII book that I loved recently was The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn (really, everything I've read by her has been fantastic). The story follows three women who worked at Bletchley Park, helping to crack German codes in the utmost secrecy. It was a portion of history I knew very little about, to the point that I didn't know women were involved in cracking codes at all. It was fascinating to read how they accomplished their work; the machines that were involved, the skills they needed and the ways they had to think differently in order to crack through what the Germans thought were unbreakable codes, not to mention the anguish when they struggled for days or weeks to crack a new code. And, of course, the elation when they did break through a code and what seemed like gibberish became plain, simple German they could then translate and pass on to help defeat the enemy.

While Jesus didn't speak in codes that had to be cracked, He did teach using parables whose meanings were not easily deciphered. In Mark 4, Jesus tells the parable of the sower: "Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!" (vv. 3-8). It's not easy to understand how that relates to following God, is it?

Jesus then finished by saying, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand" (v. 9), which seems like an odd statement since presumably everyone listening had ears that could hear, seeing as they were listening to the story to begin with.

But here's the thing - Jesus taught using parables because He was teaching His disciples. There were plenty of curious onlookers around, but they weren't His disciples and they weren't really interested in following Him, so they weren't the intended recipients of His teachings.

The people who would understand the parables were His followers, because they were still around when He gave the explanation. The curious ones who listened to the story just because they were part of the crowd, but they didn't really care about what He was teaching, weren't around anymore when the explanation was given.

Jesus explained it by quoting Isaiah when He said, "When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven" (v. 12). It's not that Jesus didn't want the people to turn to Him and be forgiven, but that He knew their hearts and that they weren't interested enough in Him to make the effort to learn and understand, which would lead to them turning to Him. Anyone could become His follower simply by sticking around, listening and taking in the teachings He shared, so it wasn't like people were being turned away. They just couldn't be bothered to stay.

Today we have the Bible to read, with the explanations for the parables included to make it easy for us. That means everyone who reads the parable can also get the explanation, but it doesn't mean that everyone hears and understands the explanation. People today are no different from the people of Jesus' day, so even those of us who read our Bibles can be too busy to really pay attention to what we're reading. I know I've been guilty of just skimming the words or reading while distracted by the day's to-do list. When I'm reading like that, I see and understand all of the words, but I'm not really taking in the meaning of what I read. On those days, the meaning might as well be in an unbreakable code for all the good it will do me.
Do we have ears  to hear what Jesus teaches | DevotedQuilter.com
If we want to benefit from Jesus' teaching, we have to be like His disciples. They asked questions, they listened intently and, most importantly, they stuck with Him. Sure, there were a lot of times they just didn't get it, but we can relate to that, too. Our human minds have trouble understanding how God's kingdom should work, but we can crack that code if we have ears to hear Jesus' teaching.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy historical fiction too. The Rose Code opened my eyes to a part of WWII that I knew nothing about. It seems there is always a distraction when I try to concentrate on my Bible reading. Thanks for the challenge to really listen and hear.


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