Today I read Matthew chapter 13 where the Savior gives and then explains many parables. Parables are very interesting how they can reveal so much or conceal even more. I wonder if the Jews had been looking for the Messiah to come the first time and had not had so many scriptures removed about the first coming of their Messiah if Jesus would still have needed to teach in parables? I don't think He would have since He did not teach in parable to the Nephites when He visited them.
But as Jesus Himself explains in this chapter, He taught in parables in order to protect those who were not ready for the knowledge He was giving them. As we know from the Doctrine and Covenants, unto whom much is given, much is required. Or in other words, those who are taught the Gospel and take upon themselves sacred covenants are expected to live up to those covenants and follow the Gospel. Jesus taught in parables so that He could teach those who are ready and those who were not would not have to be held accountable to that level of light and knowledge.
It would seem to me though that not even His disciples were able to understand the parables that were taught as the Savior takes the time to explain most of the parables that He speaks in their presence. I think it is interesting that it seems to be the case that people almost universally learn better through stories that they do from other formats. The things Jesus is teaching them in His parables are not earth shattering truths, although it is entirely possible that I feel that way because I have known them my whole life. I don't remember the first time I heard them and I don't remember if I understood them right away or if it was only after reading/hearing the explanation the Savior gives.
So in this chapter the Savior gives the parables of the sower, the wheat and the tares, the grain of mustard seed, the leaven, the treasure hid in the field, the pearl of great price, and the net cast into the sea. The first two, the sower and the wheat and the tares are about the people of the earth and the gospel. The last 5 parables were more about the kingdom of heaven on the earth. I think the one people can relate the most with is the parable of the sower.
The sower sowed a seed which was good and some fell by the wayside and were devoured by birds, some fell on stony ground and sprouted but because the roots were not deep died in the heat of the sunlight. Others fell upon thorny ground and were smothered by the thorns and finally some fell on good ground and produced good fruit. The Savior gives the explanation for this parable Himself although I have always found this one to be fairly self explanatory, but maybe that is because I have been a missionary and thus a sower and seen this first hand.
The seeds that fall by the wayside and are devoured by the birds are those that the Gospel of Jesus Christ finds no purchase in at all. They hear the word and it does not resonate with them at all, they hear it and then they move on having changed nothing. The stony ground represent those that hear the word and accept it with gladness but they do not have a firm enough foundation and so when persecutions arise, and they will arise you can rest assured on that, they fall away. I think every faithful Latter-day Saint knows at least one person like this and it is very heartbreaking to see. But sadly, a testimony is not something one can share with another person. Every person has to build their own testimony and find their own way to deal with temptations.
Those that are choked by the thorns are those that again hear the word and receive it with gladness, but then they become caught up in the world, in their riches and the distractions of the world and so they lose their way. This is one that anyone is subject to and it can happen so subtly that before you even know it is happening to you, it is already too late and you now have to fight your way back to where you were. As I have mentioned before, there is no standing still in the Gospel, or in life. We are either progressing or we are getting worse. It's like walking on a moving sidewalk that is going the wrong way, unless we REALLY work at it, we are going to move backwards or stay in the same place. It's only when we plow through adversity that we can really make headway and go in the right direction.
Finally there are the seeds that fall upon good ground and spring up and bear fruit. We all want to be in this category and endure to the end. Unfortunately, just like those seeds, we have to work at it continually and do what is right to overcome the adversity that will come our way. There is no easy way to become a fruit bearing plant, it takes effort and time, and lots of it. But the reward is all that the Father hath. Isn't that worth it? I sure think it is. Until tomorrow.