Using analogies to allude to something deeper is a rabbinical technique called remez (רֶמֶז) or “hints.” It’s like giving the audience the okay to move past the literal interpretations and consider what allegories are present. Yeshua would use a remez to make connections between what he was saying and bring it back to scriptures that captured the essence of what He came to reveal. For instance:
“Go, say to that people: ‘Hear, indeed, but do not understand; See, indeed, but do not grasp.”Isaiah 6:9
Even in the mix of describing the purpose of parables Yeshua is still giving his disciples instruction on how to interpret wisdom. By bringing Isaiah into the mix he is reminding the people that God will leave them blind to the consequences of their actions and continue to make moves in silence. We are the ones who have to choose to seek Him.
Remember, Isaiah 6 ended in devastating consequences as the Assyrians invaded the Northern Kingdom and laid waste to the land. Rabbinical scholars are still wrestling with that one today. We may well know that the chosen were ignoring HaShem and worshiping neighboring gods. Maybe, they were even building these pagan deities shrines in the Holy Land but that doesn’t seem to justify losing 90% of their population to invaders. Yet, it’s what happened and it’s mentioned by Yeshua to teach his disciples why they should never harden their hearts to God. To harden the heart is to block ourselves off from the still, small voice that offers divine instruction and understanding. How can our protector let us know we’re in danger if we strangle his seed with the thorns of our newest spiritual fetish and are def to His call? Until our hearts are awakened our souls aren’t even capable of communicating with the divine. Put simply, we remain in ignorance. Half of that dedication to stay in the dumb spaces is a choice too.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
Of course, this reference to the tribes in the time of Isaiah hardening their hearts against God makes almost no sense as a means of describing why the disciples received the mysteries. He said “to you it has been granted to know,” but that doesn’t exactly crack the code for us. Now, once the over-arching narrative surrounded the quote is brought into focus it totally makes sense. He had just shared the parable of the sower with the crowd when the disciples asked why He spoke in parables.
Most of us know this one:
“The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and when it came up, it withered away because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. And yet other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as much.” As He said these things, He would call out, “The one who has ears to hear, let him hear.”Luke 8:4-8
It’s solid advice for field workers. Obviously, wasting seeds on ground that won’t allow them to grow isn’t a good practice. There actually may be people who’d hear that story and apply it how they work and pay careful attention to what their doing at all times. Maybe a trader heard the parable and decided to use it as a tactic in his business only investing with those he knew could reproduce a 100 fold, These sort of teachings are always received to our level of comprehension.
No two people internalize wisdom in the exact same way. Look at the gospels and tell me why four different people, probably dozens more who received them orally before writing it down, told four different versions of the same story.
So they asked Yeshua to clarify the parable.
“Now this is the parable: the seed is the word of God. And those beside the road are the ones who have heard, then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and yet these do not have a firm root; they believe for a while, and in a time of temptation they fall away. And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked by worries, riches, and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these arethe ones who have heard the word with a good and virtuous heart, and hold it firmly, and produce fruit with perseverance.
The seed is the word, the word is God, and the Tree of Life is planted deep within Hebrew soil. The fruit it produces provides wisdom to all who taste of it and internalize its nourishment. Now think back to Isaiah.
When we become aware of the divine source of everything we become obligated to play our part in bringing forth the Kingdom. We become filled with waters of the spirit and our cups overrun into others around us. Somehow this only makes it harder to turn our backs on the truth and go back into the world of ego and illusion. It’s so easy to do so many of us just let those rocks drain all the water of Spirit and fall away friom the path when we’re tempted.
Of course, there’s a fair amount of people who don’t even look under the tree and seek the fruit for themselves too. Some just take the bite-sized pieces our seminary schools instruct students to pump out with almost no consideration to anyone’s agenda. We forget how many switches to doctrines and dogmas have been made over the years as the church slipped further and further away from the Jewish tradition. So many translations have taken place we may not even have the actual statements of Christ available anymore.
Moreover, fewer and fewer theologians even consider whether or not the official doctrine is a genuine reflection of Christ or a political tool to control people. We know parables reveal deeper truths but some of us continually refuse to view scripture in abstract ways. In fact, the church may have went out of its way to make sure the Bible is always taken at face value. It’s called sola literalis and it means “literal interpretations only.” This created a taboo that labels anyone who goes too deep into mystical implications some sort of gnostic convert that should be alienated from the group.
We forget our founder, our teacher, our savior Himself taught things that were hidden to a select few who were truly seeking the Kingdom. Ones willing to dig deeper into scripture and contemplate itts depth. Then there’s a few who do uncover the meditative techniques of the prophets of old and know of the systems Christian mystics have used over the centuries who don’t even go to church. They have practiced alone being silently obedient to God but can’t even sit with the literal minded members of their own congregations and leave.
Thorns work their way around each extreme choking them out with righteous judgment, indignation, and a sense of rightness that ensures neither seed produces fruit fit for anyone to eat. This is exactly the sort of self absorption that hardens our hearts before God and all but ensures that we’ll hear the word but won’t understand. We could see the word love and fail to grasp how holding that grudge against one another blocks us off from receiving the fruits of love altogether.
The simple fact remains Yeshua did urge us to hear these parables and soften our hearts to their wisdom. He did instruct his disciples in mysteries but he did so in a way that protected those who weren’t ready to comprehend the mysteries yet. It’s like when one of our friends is in a situation that we know isn’t a winning one. We see how foolish it would be for them to continue but they aren’t able to view our truth because their too involved. People get emotionally and mentally attached to their interpretations of scriptures because it gives them a sense of comfort. We sort of just get to sit there and wait squirming while we watch from the sidelines. If this sounds familiar maybe remind yourself:
For nothing is concealed that will not become evident, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.
When religion is working for others and they’re leading productive lives and shining the light on the people around them why correct their understanding forgiveness. When someone takes a different approach and goes to classes for meditation and becomes more mystical in their reading of biblical wisdom it isn’t unchristian of them. They’re simply being individuals with different philosophies slightly alien to our own. Everyone is seeing things in their own way. Maybe embrace their take on scripture by opening up a dialogue and remember who was given two ears to go with their singular mouths.
I cannot recall how many awesome conversations I’ve had with church family who have no grasp on the wisdom tradition or mystic Christianity. Each time I’ve entered into discussion with someone who comes from a completely different angle than mine I learn something that widens my heart to God. Almost all of the members of my current congregation have never heard of the Nag Hammadi Codices let alone read them. Many of them are far enough up there in age that they refuse to touch anything other than a King James bible. Would I be showing kindness to brothers and sisters by describing the ins and outs of the political agenda that created the KJV? Whose work would I be doing if I snatched the word from their heart?
Mystic Christianity has never been received with excitement by huge crowds. Very few are shouting out “WISDOM ENTERS IN THROUGH THE GATE OF THE HEART! WOO! WOOH!” Imagine St John of the Cross playing frat boy with Theresa of Avilal knowing how small the mystic circle is. I mean, maybe 1 out of 85 members in a typical church has ever even been on a retreat where they teach meditation while everyone spends a few weeks living like monks.
Some of the hysteria surrounding the inner tradition comes from it being the educated scholars that fought off the mystic trends at Nicaea. Intellectuals don’t tend to be in touch with their feelings. Add the political agenda of an Emperor in the mix and the need for a unified hierarchy capable of keeping people in line becomes apparent. As a result, the people who originally penned the doctrine of Christ for the newly formed church of Rome did so in an incredibly tumultuous time. They were up against a sea of wildly diverse takes on Christ and what He said and did all of which were already in heavy rotation.
Hellenization remained prevalent in education. To know how to read and write in Greek and form ones own rhetoric on Greek philosophy still served as a symbol of sophistication. Teachers lectured expecting their students to listen and take notes without question or provoking argument. In many ways, the official church doctrine still reflects this trend today. Considering our earliest theologians interpreted scripture through the lenses of Greek understanding it’s no wonder why the Kingdom to Come is so elusive to us today.
Maybe if it had been the Desert Fathers had been the first to interpret scripture and laid the foundation for priests to build on we’d have a completely different faith today.
I say, respect the standing traditions and start meditation classes within the Churches. We could easily continue observing all the rights of a regular service and meet in the middle of the week to discuss mystics like Hildegard of Bingen, Brother Lawrence, and Meister Eckhart; all of whom left us fantastic methods of meditation. We have this great internal landscape within Christianity. Why not explore it?