Some people assume that Yeshua was a simple teacher, that his words were for peasants’ ears, used homey object lessons, and could be comprehended easily. It might seem unfair if the healing and compassionate prophet-messiah had an inside group or if he used language that would be hard for crowds to grasp, requiring private explanations to the inner circle.
Yet that is what Yeshua did. He said to his inner circle, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables” (Mark 4:11, RSV).
No doubt there are many reasons for the dual audience scenario. For one thing, Yeshua was building a movement and said so on many occasions. A movement requires teaching and direction. Crowds who come out for a day will not be able to hear an in-depth explanation of the goals and methods of the movement. For another, Yeshua’s message was one that could easily be misunderstood. In fact, Yeshua’s own inner circle continued to misunderstand him until after the resurrection. Certain prevalent ideas about Messiah and the kingdom of God predisposed Yeshua’s hearers to expect something that would not, in fact, happen.
So, the crowds who attended Yeshua’s outdoor speeches heard many intriguing, inviting similes and stories, but would have needed more time and explanation to penetrate their meaning. They heard mysterious sayings about vineyards and kings and servants. Only after many stories and repetitions would it become clear who these kings and servants were and why Yeshua used the old prophetic metaphor of a vineyard.
The inner circle got private explanations.
Watch for the book, audiobook, and ebook of Yeshua in Context to be released in August 2010. To pre-order, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
LISTEN IN ONE OF TWO WAYS:
1. On iTunes, search for “Yeshua in Context” under podcasts.
2. Or listen at this link on derekleman.com.