In the Light
This is just one example of how things can make a dramatic turn when "deaf" ears are opened, and "dull" hearts find understanding.
In another time and place, the disciples of Jesus listened with the multitudes as He told a parable about sowing. He described a person who went out to sow seed in the ground, only to allow it to fall on four different types of soil (Mark 4:1-9). Later, the disciples asked Jesus privately about the meaning of this parable. He said, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that, 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them'" (Mark 4:111-12). He then went on to explain the parable to them in detail.
I used to struggle comprehending Jesus' answer and reasoning for speaking in parables to the multitude. The scriptures are clear that Jesus came to bring reconciliation to men by forgiving their sins. So I wondered why He wouldn't want them to perceive and understand and turn from their sins? What would be the purpose of "deaf" ears and "dull" hearts remaining deaf and dull?
I later realized His answer wasn't intended to be the case forever. During His earthly ministry, everything Jesus did and said was in preparation for the cross. In several passages, we find the disciples remembering His words and realizing there were things once hard to comprehend at the time, which suddenly made sense now. In the same way, God desires for deaf ears to hear and dull hearts to understand -- but only in light of the cross.
The Apostle Paul said, "And through him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross" (Colossians 1:20, NLT). The word peace in this passage is a synonym for reconciliation. Jesus made peace by reconciling the world through His cross. Beforehand, the world was fractured and separated from their Creator. So, as Jesus prepared the way for reconciliation, much of what He said made no sense at all -- until His death, burial, and resurrection. "His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him... and that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said" (John 12:16, 2:22).
In light of these things, we need to remember Paul's teaching concerning faith and hearing. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: 'Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world'" (Romans 10:17-18). The hearts of men (our hearts) were first pricked by the hearing of God's Word; then upon accepting it, the "eyes" and "ears" of man's heart became enlightened as well. Why? Because the events of the cross illuminated spiritual understanding.
Unlike the Jewish refugees, this time it wasn't just one group who were given liberty. "Together as one body, Christ reconciled [everyone] to God by means of His death on the cross..." (Ephesians 2:16, NLT). So spiritually speaking, now ALL who believe can have deaf ears opened and dull hearts sharpened.
But the best news is that God is not deaf. He hears the cry of the oppressed and has promised that all who call upon Him shall be saved (Acts 2:21). The cross of Christ has given us "open immigration" - meaning we have freedom. And like the surviving Jewish refugees who couldn't change their past but had lease on a new future, we can now hear, envision, and embrace the words of Jesus - in light of the cross.