This verse seems to speak to God's amazing grace and mercy--for us.
Mark writes (presumably passing along what Peter had witnessed while with Jesus) that Jesus "didn't say anything to them without using parables."
Parables are stories told in a way that their meaning is not obvious. Even those who were motivated to follow Jesus didn't discern the meaning without outside help. In other words, instead of telling parables to make it easier to understand his teachings, Jesus told parables to obscure his meaning.
Why in the world would Jesus want to obscure the truth? Great question. Not sure I know myself. There are several possible reasons. I am going to focus on one I think is plausible.
I think Jesus obscured the meaning so that he could put it out there for everyone and anyone in the world (past, present and future) to have access to it but only a few to understand it.
It's kind of like a key in two parts--and you need both parts to work.
First part: The parable of truth. This part of the key is essential. It comes from God and yet only works when connected to the second part. This truth is public and available. But that's not enough. It must be understood.
Second part: A person of faith open to the work of God in their life. God brings faith and understanding to the person hearing or reading the parable.
In the above case, Jesus is explaining the parable to the disciples in private (after teaching it to the crowd). They hear it along with everyone else. Most people in the crowd (including the Twelve) do not understand it and leave either pondering it or blowing it off.
Meanwhile, the disciples ask Jesus to explain it to them when they are alone. God (through Jesus here) brings understanding to them (with the possible exception of Judas Iscariot) opening their eyes--the second part of the key.
Truth + God = Understanding + Faith
Taking one more pass at this, I'll say it this way. While God is making his truth available to all (verbally or in writing), he doesn't owe it to anyone to make it understandable because none of us deserve it. As a holy judge, he knows no one should have access to this truth that will set them free.
But God is also gracious, merciful and compassionate--he wants to make it understandable. He wants us to understand and respond in faith. He loves to show love to those who don't deserve it. And the way that he does this is to open their eyes so that they can see and understand the truth that sets them free.
So, earlier in this chatper, Jesus explains the parable of the sower so that they will see that the only ones who will bear fruit are those who hear the word AND put it into practice with such faith that they will stay faithful EVEN WHEN tempted by persecution, trials, worry, or wealth. His true followers will bear fruit 30, 60 or even 100 times more than what they received.
None of us deserve Jesus' explanation of his truth. We are all blind to it and that's what we deserve because of sin.
But God in his great grace and mercy chooses to open some of our eyes to the good news that his kingdom is near--and then invites us to be a part of it.
I praise God for his amazing mercy and grace.
What is God saying to you right now?
What are you going to do about it?