For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:17)
Jesus has just shared the parable of the four soils, and his disciples are confused (as they often are). As he explains why he teaches in parables, he alerts the disciples to the tremendous privilege they have. In the past, God’s prophets—holy men like Moses, David, and Isaiah—could see only the faintest glimpses of God’s great plan of redemption. They were, in Plato’s famous analogy, seeing little more than shadows on the wall of their cave. Nevertheless, so eager were they to know what God was planning that they “searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).
And now, as Jesus points out in the verse above, the plan is unfolding. All those prophets and righteous people longed to see what the disciples were looking at right then and there. What would Moses and David and Isaiah and Samuel and Jeremiah (et al.) have given to hear God’s Messiah speak to them? How privileged the disciples were.
But with great privilege comes great responsibility. (I might be misquoting something there.) If they have the privilege of seeing with their own eyes and hearing with their own ears, shouldn’t they pay very careful attention? Should they search any less intently or with any less care just because the image is clearer (they’ve left the cave, so to speak)? Surely not.
And what about us then? For we have even more than the disciples did in Matthew 13. We have the cross and the empty tomb before us. We have Pentecost and the Spirit’s indwelling. We have the full canon of Scripture translated into our own language—and personal copies available to us even! (What Christians throughout church history would have given for that privilege I cannot even begin to fathom.) Add to that the witness and commentary of two thousand years of faithful Christians, and our privilege is truly great indeed.
So . . . what are you doing with your privilege? Are you searching intently and with the greatest care? Are you in God’s Word regularly and deeply? Do you have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand? May it be so, Lord!