“With many such parables He spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to His own disciples He explained everything.” (Mark 4:33-34)
As we see earlier in the text, Jesus teaches the crowds with parables but He takes the time to get alone with His disciples and privately explain to them the teaching. This wasn’t preferential treatment given to the disciples for their own benefit. They weren’t part of an exclusive club with membership perks. This was Jesus, modeling another level of teaching meant for those who were following Him. What we see at work here is the deepening of their relationship with Jesus through purposeful discipleship.
Jesus was teaching the disciples the meaning of His parables in private. These conversations were meant to help the disciples not only understand the parable but also to understand the scripture that was tied in to the story. These meetings were intentional and deliberate. They were meant to help the disciples grow in their understanding of the Word. But they were also preparing the disciples to go out and do the same with other believers, those who would come to faith and need discipleship after Jesus ascended to Heaven.
There were levels to the teaching of Jesus. The levels depended on the relationship and the audience. In the synagogue, Jesus taught directly from the word to reveal Himself through the word. This would prick the hearts of men like Nicodemus. Men who were part of the hierarchy of the temple and knew the scriptures but also sensed that something was missing. This would cause Nicodemus to approach Jesus privately with his own questions. Jesus gave Nicodemus an audience and answered his questions one on one. We see that conversation in John chapter 3.
Jesus taught the crowds with parables which would reveal himself to them through stories mixed with scripture. These were stories they could relate to, stories they could see themselves in. This would lead people to begin asking their own questions about the religious system they had always known and who this Jesus really was. They would follow along from place to place, bringing their questions and their curiosity with them. The more they followed, the closer they got until they were eventually numbered in the 120 disciples we see mentioned several times. Now their instruction became more intimate as they were privy to the deeper explanation of the parables in private.
Another level, the deepest one, is those who have devoted themselves to become disciple makers. This level was afforded access to things the prophet Jeremiah would describe as “great and mighty things which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). We see this later in Mark chapter 9 when Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain where they would see Him have a meeting with Moses and Elijah. We see this with Philip in acts chapter 8 when Philip is carried away by the Spirit after baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch. This level comes with great access and understanding but it also comes at a great price. That price is a life lived solely for the purpose of God and His Kingdom. The price is a life surrendered to Jesus, not only as Savior but also as Lord in the service of God.
Let us be a people who are willing to progress through the levels of discipleship. Let us progress from following out of curiosity, to believing in faith, to acting in obedience and surrendering our lives in service to our Lord.
Love Y’all! Be Blessed.