Sacred Conversation – Pt. 2
“Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 ‘Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’
9 Then Jesus said, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’” Mark 4:1-9
Of all the ways God has spoken to humanity, Jesus Himself was the clearest message God ever gave. In Jesus’ life and through His teaching, God was speaking to our world. One day Jesus taught from a boat by the lake and essentially asked the question, “If God showed up, would you listen?”
If you read yesterday’s devotional, you have now read The Parable of the Soils three times. Did you pay attention to the bookends of Jesus’ story? Did you notice the words of Jesus at the beginning and the end of the parable? I call them “bookends” because they function the same way; they hold up the story and reveal its intention. The first bookend is the command, “Listen!” The final bookend is the phrase, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
If Jesus’ admonishes His audience to listen at the beginning of the story and again encourages them to listen at the conclusion of the story, might the point of the story involve listening?
On this particular day, Jesus taught them a parable which implied it takes a really wise and humble person to listen to what they do not want to hear. The message of Jesus often challenges our hypocrisy, as it did theirs. He confronts our belief systems which are not only self-constructed, but also self-beneficial. He corrects our ideas about God which are usually mistaken and misshapen. The parable sneaks up on us and whispers in our ears: Are you willing to hear what you need to hear even if you do not want to hear it?
Do we have ears to hear? Are we willing to listen to the words of Jesus even if they cut to the deepest parts us? Will we listen to Jesus even if He should expose our hidden, self-protecting motives and tear away the plastic façade of religion?