“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables…” –Mark 4:11
The way of the kingdom is subtle, small, and unpredictable. It grows in hidden and wild ways (Mk. 4). It is mysterious—to the extent that it often can’t be perceived or, at least, understood except by those on “the inside.” It is divinely revealed, so the “insiders’ are not some elite class or gnostic possessors of secret wisdom. The insiders are those who go with Jesus into the inner room of contemplation, those who seek the deeper ways of the kingdom. No one is restricted from coming. But only a few choose to come “inside.”
Those who go inside with Jesus, however, those who push beyond merely hearing the kingdom parables into living the kingdom parables, they are the good soil that bears fruit. They are the lamps on stands bringing illumination. They are harvesters perceiving and urgently reaping the kingdom’s fruitfulness. They are the birds of the air making their nests in the kingdom’s comforting shade.
Those “outside” are welcome to the parables. The parables are vessels of God’s grace revealing to them the good news of the kingdom. And surely many of these "outsiders" come to understand that there is something bigger, that it is something like God’s reign, and that they can be part of it.
But that’s often the extent, the limit of the revelation. It’s enough for many…for most, perhaps. Too many, though, remain distracted rocky soil. The message never takes root. The lamp’s illumination remains hidden. The kingdom’s crops are passed by with a shrug on the way to more dazzling worldly attractions. The trying heat of the sun is simply endured. For what relief could be found in such a small, scraggly, wild shrub?