The prophecies of Isaiah are filled with statements that find fulfillment in Messiah. Isaiah would preach to the people but they would hear and not understand, see but never really perceive. His words would result in their hearts being turned away from God (Isaiah 6:9,10). Jesus was explicit in his description of his own ministry: “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive’” (Matthew 13:13,14).
Albert Barnes, I think, succinctly states the meaning of all this: “Matthew simply states the ‘fact,’ that though they saw the ‘natural’ meaning of the story - though they literally understood the parable - yet they did not understand its ‘spiritual’ signification.” Don’t we see this reality all around us? Many can recount the biblical stories or, at least, have a passing familiarity with them. But they do not really “get” the stories? Do they ever really know the One to whom the stories point? “Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear.”
Open my eyes that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me.
Place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine! -- Clara H. Scott (1895)