Are You Listening?
“And He was saying, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ ” Mark 4:9
We find Jesus outdoors once more. To maintain some personal space, He sits in a boat and teaches the massive crowd. His audience, packed along the shoreline, is filled with farmers from rural Galilee. Imagine, while Jesus is speaking, one-on-one for the nearby hillsides, a farmer is sowing seeds. What happens to seeds in farming is what happens to seeds in Jesus’ story. Jesus is compelling in his telling of the types of soil. The crowd wasn’t listening, they just looked as Jesus told the story – then – it’s over, the crowd is left with only a story. That’s all.
Jesus concludes with a command, “anyone who has ears should listen!” It’s the first time that phrase is used in Mark, but not the last time. The key term “to hear” appears 13 times in this chapter. The point is, if one is not engaged, they will not get it. This parable demands interaction. The nature of the parable is designed to reveal the character of the one who listens, or doesn’t listen, to them. When it comes to listening, each type of soil hears the word, but reacts differently. In fact, they point to three times more failure than success.
It’s crucial that His disciples listen and understand. Jesus calls them in. His tone shifts. Imagine Him almost whispering. The secrets of the kingdom are going to be given them. Jesus tells the parable to the crowd, but only explains the meaning to His disciples. This is to serve as a warning to us, His disciples, that we be attentive and reflective so that the nature of the kingdom of God, and how it advances in the world, does not go in one ear and out the other.
Jesus summons us to listen beneath the surface. We are to listen and keep on listening. Psalms 25:14 reminds us of the special relationship God has with those who will listen, “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him.” The secret is revealed to those who respond to Jesus by hearing and following. Jesus never has to tell His disciples to listen because they are living with their spiritual ears tuned to Him.
Are you listening?
Are God’s words more than suggestions, ideas or concepts? Do they shape how you see this world?
Pray this today: “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”