Friday, August 23, 2019

A great reader question about Mark 4:12

READER QUESTION:

I have a question about this passage taken from the King James translation:

"That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them"

Specifically the part in bold.  I am trying to understand why it is said this way. I understand the first part, but as you read the second part in bold letters it is really a confusion to me. Christ came to save and if I take this at face value it says that he didn't want the people he is talking about to understand salvation or to be saved. Is this a misinterpretation or a wrong choice  of the correct English word? I know that the translators of the King James had less documents to translate from than there is today. So I bring this question to you. As always thank you for your time and effort to answer my questions I appreciate it more than you will ever know or I have words to express.

OUR RESPONSE:

Yes, these verses in Mark 4 do pose a conundrum, but I think the scripture itself does a pretty good job of explaining just what Yeshua meant. If read, in context from the beginning of chapter 4, we learn that it is not that Yeshua "didn't want the people he is talking about to understand salvation or to be saved"; rather, he wanted them to "want it" or "desire it" so they'd make an effort.  This is the meaning of verse 12 that has you scratching your head:

"That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them."

Here, I've underlined some key words. The fact that the people see and not perceive, and hear yet not understand points to the word "lest" which means "for fear that", or in this case, that the people who see and hear (the message), but don't dare make any effort of their own to comprehend means they miss their chance to be saved. So, these people dismiss the message and go on with their lives without knowing what they gave up.  This understanding becomes clear in vs 13-23.  See how Yeshua explains that because they made no effort themselves to want to understand, it left them open to the adversary (v 15), or troubles or persecution (v 17), or the worries of the world or their own desires (v 19) such that the "message" was lost as a seed is lost in poor soil.  

I've always understood that Yeshua brought nothing new except that he offered his blood to redeem us. To have salvation takes BOTH the acceptance that Yeshua's blood redeemed us, AND that we must live our lives as free of sin as possible by our obedience (be holy).  I see this clearly in John 17:3.  Yeshua says that "eternal life" is KNOWING YHWH and the Messiah.  We "know" by experiencing and living YHWH's Word.

Hope this helps!  Thank you for writing to The Refiner’s Fire!

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