Have you understood all this?” Jesus asked, and they answered, “Yes.” Today, some 2,000 years later, we are still answering yes with a straight face . . . and God must be laughing (or weeping) at our lack of self-critical distance. How could we possibly understand “all this”? These parables, this teacher who spoke in parables beside the sea, this gospel writer who meant well in his expunged explication of the text, this biblical narrative with a height and depth—all of this must be missed in a merely human grasp. How can we possibly understand?
If the parables presented for our consideration contain the secret, hidden, surprising and unexpected character of God’s kingdom, then those who claim to understand easily are exposed by God in these very verses. Maybe that is how it works in the kingdom of heaven.