We can understand the issue more clearly when we read the text from which Jesus was quoting: Isaiah 6:9. Here is that text together with some of the text around it to gain some context:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" He said, "Go and tell this people: " 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Then I said, "For how long, Lord?" And he answered: "Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land." (Isaiah 6:8-13)So we must ask in this exchange between God and Isaiah, why is God telling Isaiah to "Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes." ?
Why would God want to close their eyes and make their hearts calloused? Doesn't God care about those people?
Or is God just being vengeful, as ecclesiastical scribes from centuries past and present have presented Him with their mistranslations and misinterpretations of scripture?
No. This is not what is happening at all.
To understand this mystery we must understand who we are and why we are here - something that sectarian institutions do not offer in their teachings.
This world is not our home
This physical world is not our home, and we are not these physical bodies.
We are the living spirit-persons occupying these physical bodies much as a car driver drives a car. The car driver is not the car, just as we are not these physical bodies.
Rather, we are from the spiritual realm. The spiritual realm is that place where its citizens are engaged in loving service to the Supreme Being and He is exchanging loving relationships with each of His children. This is why each of us was created - to exchange a unique loving relationship with God and offer Him loving service.
But real love requires freedom. So God gave us the freedom to love Him or not.
And those who have chosen not to love Him have no place in the spiritual realm. They do not want to engage in loving relationships with Him. They want their freedom from God. So they are sent away.
This is each of us. Each of us was sent away from the spiritual realm because we wanted our freedom from God. We wanted to enjoy life separately from Him. We wanted our own stuff. We didn't want to serve Him. We want to be served.
So He created the physical universe to house all those spirit-persons who rejected Him and wanted to get away from Him. This physical universe is set up in such a way that we come to occupy temporary physical bodies that allow us to forget Him and who we really are, and pretend to be someone we are not for a while.
These bodies allow us to escape our real identities
These physical bodies allow us to have temporary roles and pretend to be some kind of boss or star: For some, it is being a business owner. For others it's being a great athlete. For others it's being a great politician. For still others it's being a great musician, or movie star, or boss at work. For others it is simply being a parent - where we can feel that we created our children and be the boss (and hopefully, star) of them.
You see, our desire is to be the star or the boss in some respect or another because this is God's position and we became envious. This is rooted in not only our rejection of the Supreme Being. We became envious of Him because once we lost our love for Him, that created a void within us - a void that became filled with enviousness.
So each of us here in the physical world now struggles to be the star or boss of something or someone. We struggle for power, money, name, fame and prestige.
Yet at the same time we also struggle for survival. We struggle for freedom from pain and suffering. We struggle to keep the body alive.
In other words, the Supreme Being created the physical world as not only an illusory platform for us to pretend to be someone we are not so that we can pretend to be the star or boss of something:
He also set up the physical world as a rehabilitation center.
Yes, the physical world is more like a rehab than a resort. It is a place of learning and a place of suffering. Why?
Does God want to make us suffer?
We must first remember that it is these temporary physical bodies that suffer - not us. When the body dies, we leave it behind.
Secondly, the suffering of the world - as well as its fleeting pleasures and attaining stardom and boss-dom - is all set up to teach us: To help us grow. To rehabilitate us. Why?
Because God wants us to come home to Him someday.
But God only wants us to come home to Him when we want to come home. He never forces us. He does not make us. He might put in front of us lessons to learn, but He never forces us to make a decision regarding Him.
So what does this have to do with Isaiah and Jesus' statement about speaking in parables?
The Supreme Being is hiding from those who do not want to see Him.
For those who do not want to return to Him, He does not want to put Himself out there. This is God's heart - He never forces Himself upon us.
You see, God is essentially a gentle person - a kind person - a loving person. He is the Perfect Person.
Love and freedom
And such a loving person would never force themselves upon another. There is an expression:
"If you love someone, set them free."This is God. He loves us. So He set us free.
And setting us free requires that He puts barriers between us and His Truth. It requires that certain hearts - those who still want to be bosses and stars - become calloused and blind to Him.
Let's use an example. Let's say that it is in the middle of the night and our husband or wife is sleeping and we do not want to wake them, because we want them to get a good night's sleep. Now we may want to hang out with them because we are up. But because we care about them we tip-toe around the bedroom to make sure we don't wake them up. Or if we turn on the light, we might first place something over the eyes of our mate so they won't be woken up by the light.
This can be compared to God's motives as He sends His representatives like Jesus and Isaiah. God wants His representatives to bring home to Him those who want to return to Him. Those who have a sincere desire to return to Him.
But for those who want to remain asleep - those of us who want to keep chasing around our self-centered desires - He puts barriers between His message and our hearts. He finds a way to keep our hearts callous. He lets us remain asleep. Because He loves us so dearly, He sets us free. He gives us the freedom to return to Him or not on our own volition.
So while many in the crowd were hearing Jesus speak those words, they did not understand them, as he spoke in parables. Why? Because they did not want to understand his message. They did not want to return to their relationship with God.
But Jesus was sure to unfold the Truth to his disciples and students: "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables..." Why?
Because his students showed a desire from within their hearts to return to God's loving arms. They had gotten to a point in their lives where they were finished with chasing their self-centered desires around. They were tired with the suffering of the world and all of its false promises. They were ready to begin the path back home to the spiritual realm.
The beauty of the scriptures
The barriers are still there within the scriptures for those who aren't really serious about returning to the Supreme Being. For those who just want to pretend they are religious so they can be the big teacher, or be the big church-goer to impress others, the scriptures can be misinterpreted in such a way that completely hides their true meaning.
The Scriptures are set up so that those who want to deceive others can use them to teach falsehoods. They are set up to allow institutions to claim they follow the scriptures but really they want to gain followers to pay the salaries of their executives. The Supreme Being is so perfect!
Yet for those who are serious about coming to know and love God, the scriptures provide the passageway, along with God's representatives. Deep within their words, the scriptures provide the keys for those who want to see through all the institutional crap that goes on in the name of religion and really understand how they can return home to their relationship with God.
This is because God does want us to come home to Him - but only when we want to. Because He wants us to return to Him out of love. Not because we want something from Him. Not because we want Him to make us superstars or wealthy tycoons. But because we want to simply return to His loving arms and renew our original relationship with Him.
This is Jesus' message to his disciples.