And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.  And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,  so that “‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”’ Mark 4:9-12

Our ears do not have lids like our eyes, God made them to remain open. We hear many things but we have to choose to listen with our mind and our heart if we want to understand. True listeners look beyond words and search for meaning. Count the number of times Mark writes “listen” and “hear” in chapter four.

Hearing and listening are important in scripture. The Old Testament passage known as the Shema begins with, “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one.” In the New Testament, Jesus urges his followers to listen like sheep for their shepherd. They follow him because they’re familiar with the sound of the shepherd’s voice (John 10:3-5). In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, it is written seven times, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22). Jesus’ words are for honest seekers.

Speaking in parables protected Jesus from the accusing Pharisees, while encouraging heartfelt pursuit of God and truth. The purpose of a parable was found in the meaning of the parable of the four soils itself. It illustrated people’s responses to hearing. The point of the parables was not meant to be concealed from the disciples or the curious, but the hard-hearted. What will be your response to God and his word? Greet your day with openness to the Holy Spirit revealing truth to you. Be curious about yourself, others and the events of the day. Listen for the whispers given to you for guidance and for understanding. Wait in anticipation. Proverbs 8:34: Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.

By Donna Burns