We all love to be told a secret; it makes you feel special, like one with privileged information. The thrill of the secret comes not only from the information that is given, but the person who is willing to tell you the information. It is because of the special relationship that you have with the person that you are given ‘privileged information.’ What you do with the information after you are told reveals how much you value the relationship that allowed you to be one of the privileged few.
Jesus, in Mark 4:11, tells His followers, “The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you.” Hmmm, if this is true, how come so many Christians are walking around in the dark, not understanding the times or seasons? Jesus goes on to say that those on the outside hear everything in parables so that they may see but never perceive, and hear but never understand. If they did perceive and understand, then they would turn and be forgiven.
Throughout Mark chapter 4, Jesus speaks a parable and then gives an explanation to his disciples. He wants His disciples to have understanding, He wants them to know how the Kingdom works and how He and His Father think. The chapter concludes with the statement, “When he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.” This is the nature of Jesus. He considers His disciples trustworthy enough to share His secrets with them. He is not trying to make them guess what His intentions are. He wants them not only to understand, but to partner with Him in establishing the Kingdom. How can you build the Kingdom without understanding the blueprint?
We must ask ourselves, “Do I understand the secrets of the Kingdom?” Have I taken time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His explanations? Have my thinking and my actions been changed because I’ve spent time with Jesus?
As I was pondering these questions, I thought about how we learn. As a homeschooling mom, I have the privilege of teaching my children. Math continues to be one of the most challenging subjects to teach. I explain the concepts and draw diagrams. I wait to see if understanding has occurred. If it has not, I try another way of explaining. This process may take several hours or several days. But if teacher and student stay engaged, understanding will come. The proverbial light bulb will come on and the student will then know how to work the problems.
So it is with us and Jesus. Just because we read the text in the Bible does not mean we have understanding. Just because we hear someone preach a message does not mean we have understanding. Sometimes revelations comes quickly, but usually it takes some effort on our part. It takes time to sit with Jesus, ask Him questions and hear His response. We cannot hear when we are always talking or while we are doing other things. Ever try to learn a new math concept while watching TV or playing a video game?
When Jesus said “those on the outside” I don’t believe He was speaking only of unbelievers, He was speaking also of believers that remained on the fringe of hearing, those that did not press in to gain understanding. He says, if you ask, then you will receive. If we ask Him to explain His words, then He will. Our desire for Him compels Him to make His heart known, but He will not entrust His secrets to those that have no real desire to change or to cooperate with Him in bringing about change. You will only invest your time and energy in that which you value. If you labor to gain understanding then when it comes, you’ll be ready to shift your life to make room for a new way of doing things. You’ll be ready to help establish the Kingdom in your life and the lives of those around you. If you only hear the words and think you understand, lasting change will not come. It will be as Jesus described in the parable of the sower, the word will be snatched away because it has no root.
Loving God wholeheartedly requires time and patience. It requires discipline and diligence, hunger and sacrifice. What are you willing to give up so that you can gain the secrets of the Kingdom? This is the measure of your love for Jesus and His Kingdom. Salvation is free, but being a disciple is costly. How badly to you want to know His secrets?