Proven impenitence ~ K. Schilder (Ger. Church news of Delft; March 1; 1924)

Mark 4: 12. …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”

“So that … they may see and not perceive.”

So that.

People have marveled over these words, and, what is more, have stumbled over them. How difficult the saying sounds. Who can hear it?

Let us begin by leaving the words in their context. We can only follow it in a Divine sense and with a prophetic zeal.

When God’s holiness and glory were shown in a vision, Isaiah heard the word (that was sent) over a people, which sees and is blind, and hears and is deaf and eagerly escapes from its own thoughts (Isaiah 6, ff. John 12).

Also, as often as this word is quoted in Scripture afterwards, it is continuously brought into context with the vision of Isaiah (Mat. 13: 14, 15; Luke 8: 10; John 12: 40 Acts 28: 26, 27). Here is convincing proof that we can only do right with the contents of this testimony if we leave it in its context.

Only in this way can we remain consistent with the thought.

When the heavens open before Isaiah’s face he observes God Himself in His blinding majesty. Wherever God is, there is sovereignty, everything is kept in the style of predestination and foreknowledge. The prophetic word is “sent” to Israel from there, not in the weakness of man, who vainly attempts to apply the word in order to contort what he considers disagreeable, but in the power of the Eternal one, who “sends” the Word with majesty, so that the thoughts of those to whom He comes are revealed; so that whatever is in them comes out.

All must choose for a party when Jesus prophecies. Getting lost is a mistake if there is no signpost, it becomes sin if the signpost is clearly placed before the traveler in order to make him know the way. Whoever walks past the signpost and is discovered on the wrong road is seen to be someone who is obstinate, not ignorant. The “prayer of the ignorant” is forever taken from him.

In this way the signpost makes the evil apparent.

The one who puts the signpost there, knows this. He knows it beforehand. He counts on that result ahead of time. He places the sign post there so that if they do not want to see, they still would have had to see it. When the ignorant go astray it is this: being blind they don’t see”. But when the knowledgeable go astray, they “see, but not seeing”.

Seeing and not perceiving. Hearing, they do not hear. Taking note, but not understanding.

Judgment will be justified wherever these things are found in the souls of the gainsayers. The judge has paved the way for him to come to a verdict, which would be justified in every eye, by bringing to light the secret unwillingness that would always have remained hidden without the signpost. If the signpost had not stood at that crossing of life’s pathways they could have pleaded ignorance and have called out: we stray, we are exhausted; bring us back and heal us. Then after a life of hidden obstinacy there would be an attempt to repel the verdict by applying the lie of a hypocritical cry of ignorance. Is He pitiless? Is it a misdeed to point someone to the right direction? Everyone knows better. Pointing out the way is a good deed. But it has terrible consequences for the unwilling. His judge, his God has not made it so that he is unwilling, it is of himself. But that he appears to be unwilling, is God’s doing. That is not of himself.

“God is far from godlessness, the Almighty from injustice. God does not desire sin, but He does want the truth regarding sin.

Therefore the signpost. Therefore the Word. Therefore the sending of Isaiah.

They all must be tested by the prophetic word, everyone to whom it comes.

This is the only way to understand Jesus’ word when he calls upon God’s word to Isaiah.

Jesus speaks in parables. He makes use of riddles, in which he embodies His teachings.

Now don’t say that this is the exact opposite of being signpost.

Do not say that therefore those riddles, those difficult to grasp parables, carry the blame for even one soul straying into darkness.

Because sometimes revealing the hidden thoughts of the heart can be done more effectively with a puzzling phrase and a difficult parable than by a broad, open expression of: ‘so it is’.

If Jesus says squarely in your face; so it is, then you may be offended by Him. Then you could say: the words are too harsh; the teacher approached me so rudely, so offhandedly with his instruction; it was more than I could bear. You could try to apologize somewhat for the unwillingness to hear.

But by speaking in parables, or with riddles Jesus also cuts off that possibility of false self-excuse.

Then you must come to light as you are.

Even if you want to hear, you will still not immediately understand; even the disciples often had to ask: explain this parable to us. Your asking will disclose you.

But - what if you don’t want to hear? If in every case you reject the speaker in advance. If you are already unwilling meet him from the first?

Then he forces you to expose yourself as you really are by parables.

Different situations can be used for examples.

For example you take the opportunity, which the problematic word gives you, to “explain” it in one sentence in order to put the speaker of the parable in an unfavorable light.

You pull an idea from the words, which you can not prove with certainty the speaker himself had put into the words of his riddle. Yet you quickly present that uncertain explanation for the real one and say triumphantly to the people: whoever speaks like this is no prophet but a heretic. So your animosity is not made, but does becomes evident by the riddle.

Or also ~ all your life you have said: I seek the truth, I search and research, but I can not find it, poor me. You could easily say so, as long as nothing disturbing is set on your table, with the command to analyze it and figure it out. For isn’t that called your favorite preoccupation? Well ~ the Christ comes and lays a word before you, which is oh so strange. It is too remarkable to just push aside as unimportant: and it is still so strange that it does not immediately penetrate, it is not simply a piece of cake you say. Come on, you researcher of appeals; come on you desirer for knowledge; come on, prier, analyzer, you who have such sympathy with your fruitless searching, start with this riddle. You have work again, be happy with it! But see ~ do you even start with it? Don’t you throw the word behind your back? Or do you rid yourself of it with the easy expression; so it is? But then this one occurrence has proven that your whole assertion of earnestness and of honest investigation of these things was only talk. A nice posturing that you have adopted to cover the intoxication of your soul and to give God the blame for your destruction.

So the possibilities can be multiplied.

But again and again it appears, that God, and Christ, and prophecy cannot stand accused for the impenitence, they expose the naked existence of sin. That is the intention of the Father of spirits, who sends His Word. God does not want your sin. But do you want sin, ~ he will force you to throw off your mask, so that no mouth dares to say, that God was duty bound to heal the sick, who wanted death and not life.

This is powerful preaching for every hearer of the Word . He forces the unmasking of self. Wherever the Word is people must choose a party. And the choice must also be apparent.

And the preachers?

Let them bring the truth; then they can be quiet. In whatever way they may preach the preaching always brings disclosure. Isaiah’s clear prophecy does so (Isaiah 6); Christ puzzling words do (Mat. 13, Luke 8, Mark 4); the miraculous signs do so (John 12: 40); Paul’s exegetically reasoned arguments interspersed with biblical texts do so (Acts 28: 26, 27).

Prophecy is always a light that not only just illuminates the outside, it also illuminates the inside.

And far be it from Jesus that He would be the popular preacher, who expects, yes, whose aim it is, that by His style of preaching people could still continue on in their impenitence, I say, it is so far from this that He was amazed Himself about their unbelief. Others wonder when they find faith and consider it very normal that you are a condemned sinner. But Jesus is surprised by their unbelief. Therefore he never wants the lie. But He does want unmasking. “So that seeing they do not see”.