Friday, April 3, 2015

How Do You Listen?

Jesus often spoke in parables.  According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a parable is: "a short story that teaches a moral or spiritual lesson; especially : one of the stories told by Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible." To be honest, I haven't always understood these parables of Jesus, but neither did His disciples, which at times has comforted me. 

One of the more recent parables that I have read is found in Luke 8:4-15

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“ ‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

After reading this the other day, I found myself stopping, going back and reading through it again.  I did this several times.  For some reason I just felt like this was where I needed to "camp out" for a bit, until the deeper meaning settled into my spirit.  The main reason I felt the need to do so is because of the next portion in Luke 8:16-18:

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.

I wondered, why did Jesus go from talking about a farmer and seed to a lamp?  So I went all the way back to verse 4 and read through to verse 18, taking notes along the way. My notes look something like this: 

  • seed = Word of God 
  • path = ones who hear, devil takes away word from their hearts
  • rock = ones who receive word with joy, but have not root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing, fall away
  • thorns = those who hear but do not mature because life's worries AND comfort (riches and pleasures) 
  • good soil = those with noble & good hearts, hear the word AND retain it, produce crop by perseverance       
Then I decided to do a search on the word "lamp".  Here is what I found:

2 Samuel 22:29 (KJV)  "For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness."

Psalm 119:105 (NIV) "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."

Proverbs 6:23 (ESV) "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,"

Psalm 119:130 (ESV) "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

I started to understand why Jesus went from "seed" to "lamp".  They both mean the same thing: God's Word!  

Luke 8:18 really made me stop and think.  It says: "Therefore, consider carefully how you listen.

How we listen to God's Word determines whether or not we (our hearts) are the path, the rock, the thorns or the good soil.  And if the good soil is representative of us and our hearts, then there will be light!  When we have the light of God's Word shining in us, we need to put it out there for everyone else to see!  


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