A concerned husband visited a doctor to discuss a problem he believed his wife was experiencing.
“Doc, I think my wife is going deaf. She never hears me the first time I say something.
Well,” said the doctor, “go home and tonight about 15 from her and say something. If she doesn’t reply, move about 5 feet close and say it again. Keep doing this, so we can determine the severity of her hearing loss.”
That night, he stands bout 15 feet away while she’s in the kitchen chopping up some vegetables, and asks, “Honey, what’s for supper”
He keeps moving closer, with still no response. Frustrated, he finally moves right behind hear bout an inch from her ear and asks again, “Honey, what’s supper?”
She replies, “For the fourth time, vegetable stew!”
Good communication in any relationship depends on our ability to hear, and understand what the other person is saying. How often, have we said something like, “You’re not hearing what I’m saying,” because we feel the other person is not responding and comprehending our message.
Of course, like the man in story, we may be the one who is not really hearing. Not listening carefully. Not grasping what is really being said.
Jesus, frequently repeated this refrain “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matt. 11:15).
I imagine, I will hear a good bit about hearing, since we’re heading to Temple Terrace today for the Florida College Lecturers. Their theme, based on Jesus’ parables, is “Never Has a Man Spoken the Way This Man Speaks.”
Jesus’ exhortation to “hear” is found some 90 times in the four biographical accounts. Yet, ironically, the parables of Jesus, while illuminating the understanding of sincere seekers, concealed Truth to those hardened against it.
Jesus explained the hard of hearing problem in Matthew 13:14-15, as he quoted from the prophet Isaiah.
Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.
“The purpose of the parables was to reveal the hidden truths of God’s Kingdom, but not to everyone. To the honest heart these illustrative stories would bring further light, but to the proud and rebellious they would increase confusion.
“The gospel of the Kingdom is so fashioned as to attract and inform the humble while it drives off and confuses the proud. Hearing the word of God is a dynamic experience. We will be either better or the worse for it. The same sun that melts the wax hardens clay. But that is the choice the student, not the teacher, makes. The parables will not make a humble heart proud, but they can make a proud heart humble if we are disposed to let them.”
So, the reception, understanding and application of not only the parables, but all of God’s Word, depends on our hearing.
What are we hearing, when we hear a sermon?
Do we only hear something that our husband, wife or children need?
Do we only hear, hoping that someone else across the auditorium hears a particular point?
Do we only hear, wishing those who really need to hear this were here?
Do we practice selective hearing, by only hearing what we like, and filtering out what is uncomfortable and incriminating?
Do we hear, like the Pharisees, who tried to trap the Teacher, instead of examining our own hearts?
Do we hear based on our previous prejudices and presuppositions, or do we hear with an open mind and receptive heart?
These questions are good, not only for the people in the pews, but for those of us who preach and teach God’s Word.
May we all like Samuel of old, sincerely say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman