Listen, Listen, Listen
Lord, I know of no better way to live this day than committing myself to trust You and obey You.
Read Mark 4:1-12
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“God’s Word requires careful listening if we are to cultivate a healthy environment in which God’s Word can grow and flourish in us for the sake of the world” (Kimberly Richter).
This is arguably one of the most significant stories Jesus told, which is why it is inserted between two urgent instructions. “Both the verbs for ‘listen’ and ‘hear’ are in the imperative mode. They are not invitations or declarations. They are commands, and no other parable in this Gospel is framed at both ends with an order to listen” (J. Kernaghan). Jesus couldn’t have made it more clear to his large audience that he was saying something of immense importance, yet he deliberately spoke in such a way as to veil his meaning. What was going on?
Jesus knew what lay ahead. He knew that his word and work would polarize and divide (Luke 12:49-53). He knew that many who eagerly sought him now would fall away, some deeply discouraged or disenchanted, others disapproving or even hostile. An easy sign-up was the last thing he needed to offer—something often forgotten in our enthusiasm to “sell” the gospel. Most of the scribes and Pharisees were incapable of listening to the Spirit—the cumulative effect of a lifetime of decisions, small and big. Jesus’ reference to Isaiah 6 is a pronouncement of God’s judgment on such people. But those who yearned to know and understand God, who had an inner sense that Jesus was somehow the key to this, were listening with heart, head and soul. Perhaps this story was designed for them. Without doubt, this assessment of how God’s word would be received was primarily intended for the inner core of disciples.
It is so important for us to listen and keep listening, but how do we do this? We can set aside time to read the Bible, to pray and to meet with other disciples. But the essential precondition is humility, for it is this which enables us to recognize and welcome God’s love.
How well do you make time and space to “listen” to God with heart, head and soul? Pray for humility to really hear and then obey.
Lord, help me to listen to the disturbing voice of the Spirit. May my life be shaped by Your agenda, and enriched by Your companionship and that of Your friends.