Have you ever misheard a song lyric?
I remember listening to the 1969 song “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedance Clearwater Revival. This song talks about bad times. One line is supposed to say, “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” However, I always thought they sang, “There’s a bathroom on the right.” Listen to it on youtube and see if you hear it too.
It is important that we not just hear, but listen. I remember when my college professor told us about a “test” the following week. I heard “quiz” and didn’t spend much time studying, but he actually said “exam”, for mid-term exam. I should have listened. When we don’t listen carefully we can get in big trouble or miss wonderful opportunities.
Jesus talked to His disciples about the importance of listening in Luke 8:1-20. He encouraged His followers to be good listeners to His Word. Even today, to be a good follower of Jesus means a commitment to be a good listener to His Word. How should we listen?
Read: Luke 8:1-15.
Our passage opens up with Jesus preaching the Word. He’s with His apostles and several women. I want to make sure you understand the elevation Jesus gave to women. He put them in the same audience to His teaching. He told a parable to them and then explained it’s meaning
A sower sowed some seed. The seed was the Word of God. Jesus was the initial sower, yet anyone who spreads God’s Word will encounter the same 4 different kinds of hearts (soil).
- Hard soil – the beaten path involves those with a shut mind, refusing to take it in.
- Shallow soil – those who don’t really think about it so it doesn’t takes root.
- Crowded soil – those whose lives are too busy and the competition strangles God’s Word.
- Good soil – They listen, receive and become fruitful.
A warning to those who hear: The fault is not in the sower or the seed but the hearts of those who hear.
An encouragement to those who plant: Some see will not last. Keep planting.
Too often we hear God’s Word but don’t let it take root. Like one Christmas when my daughter-in-law dressed her son (Henry) in a t-shirt that said, “Someday I’ll drive a big tractor, but for now I’m going to be a big brother.” We didn’t even notice. We saw the shirt. But no one read the words until she pointed it out. Similarly, t’s easy to hear God but not receive His Word.
But if Jesus wants us to clearly understand His Word, why did He talk in parables? He was getting popular and many people were listening to Him but had no intention of receiving His Word. So He began to talk in parables. A parable means to put something beside something else for comparison. This way He could hide the truth from those who had made up their minds to reject the truth. Yet, those who really wanted to know could listen carefully and learn more. Everyone had the ability to listen but not the desire. The problem is the heart, not the head.
After spending time listening to God’s Word ask this question: “What did I learn?”
Read Luke 8:15-18.
Luke links the parable of the sower with a parable about a lamp. Those who listen and receive are like a lamp. A lamp must let the light shine. The Word must be shared with others. If we don’t, we will lose what we already have. Use it or lose it. It’s amazing how much more light you receive from the Word when you share the insights you receive from the Word. There’s no standing still. Your understanding is either getting lighter or darker.
I remember when we first came to Faith Baptist and in need of children’s teachers. One lady had never taught but said she could help. Sandy Howard began teaching toddlers and soon learned as much as the children. She has been teaching for over 25 years.
You might not be the ‘teacher-type’? That’s okay. You can share without talking. It’s not about your method, but about your heart. Are you sharing the Word with others?
After spending time listening to God’s Word ask this question: “What can I tell others?”
Read Luke 8:19-21.
Jesus’ family came for a visit. But Jesus took this opportunity to explain who had first rights to His attention – those who listened and obeyed His Word. He had a commitment to His physical family. But He had a greater commitment to His spiritual family – those who listened and obeyed.
There’s a story about a boy who went to his pastor and explained that he just didn’t get anything out of reading His Bible. He didn’t understand much of it and what he did understand, he soon forgot. It just felt like a waste of time. So the preacher asked him to take an old dirty basket and bring back some water from the stream nearby. He did but by the time he got back the water leaked out. The preacher told him to do it again with the same result. After a few more times, the boy was getting frustrated. The preacher asked him what was wrong. The boy felt like he was wasting his time because the water leaked out. Then the preacher asked him to look at the basket. The basket was all clean. That is what obedience to the Word of God does – it cleans your basket.
But what about this story of Jesus’ brothers and sisters? Some churches teach that Mary was a perpetual virgin and had no other children but Jesus. Obviously not. These are the children of Joseph and Mary after Jesus was born. None of his siblings believed who He was until after the resurrection. In fact, they thought he was crazy and tried to detour His ministry. But many later believed, including James and Jude (letters in the NT).
After spending time listening to God’s Word ask this question: “What can I do?”
Suppose instead of reading the Bible, I read clues that would lead you to a a buried treasure. Would you pay more attention to the list of clues or the Bible. I’m afraid most of us would listen more closely about the treasure. Yet, the Bible promises so much more than any buried treasure.
I encourage you to make a commitment to listen and receive the Word, listen and share the Word, and listen and obey the Word.
The word ‘obedience,’ comes from the Latin obaudire, which means ‘to hear.’ By contrast the Latin word for ‘deaf’ is absurdus, from which we get our word ‘absurd.’ To truly hear God’s Word is to obey him; not to hear and obey is the way of absurdity in living.