The evil one is mentioned a lot throughout the gospel of Matthew, but maybe especially in chapter 13. He shows up in the parable of the sower as the birds who came and devoured the kingdom seeds. He shows up again as the enemy who sows weeds among the good seed in the parable of the weeds. He is also alluded to in the parable of the net.
In the midst of the parables, I think there is a key to understanding how Jesus, the Glorious Savior, givers us clarity and understanding. The key is simple. Are you ready for it? It is this: ask Him.
Jesus spoke to the people in parables. In fact, He still seems to speak to us in parables (I know He sure does for me). The people did not understand the parables, but the disciples were not content to lack understanding, so they did the most simple thing possible. They asked for understanding.
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” (Matthew 13:36, ESV)
That’s not so hard, right? No, it’s not. But it does require a great deal of humility to admit that we lack knowledge. Ironically, the only way to truly gain knowledge is to admit that you don’t have it, and then to humbly ask the One who alone knows all things.
The Pharisees and scribes asked Jesus questions, as well, but not nearly with the same humility. They were not humbly asking to gain wisdom. They were arrogantly questioning Him, testing Him, and refusing to truly hear His answers.
Meanwhile, there were countless named and unnamed individuals who did neither. They neither asked questions nor questioned Jesus. They remained ignorant of the deep truths of God. I wonder which category we would most accurately fall into. Are we among those who arrogantly put the LORD to the test with our questions void of true listening? Are we among those who do not bother to even ask? Or are we among those who humbly, yet boldly, approach the throne with our honest questions in expectation of honest answers?
The showdown between Jesus and the religious rulers begins to heat up in Matthew 16. They are now demanding a sign from Him. They know something is truly different about Him, but they are unwilling to put their faith in Him. They demand a sign, as if they were in a position to demand anything from the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
The religious elite completely miss it, but Peter, the simple fisherman, does not,
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13–16, ESV)
I wonder, who do you say that Jesus is?