One of Jesus’ favorite phrases was,
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 8:8)
You see this admonition in the gospels, and you also see it in Revelation.
What did Jesus mean?
When Jesus told his parables, his disciples asked, “Why do you speak this way?” And Jesus answered,
The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:11-15)
It seems a bit unfair for Jesus to say, “I’m giving you the secrets of the kingdom, but not them.”
But here are some things to consider. First, anyone who wanted to could hear the parables. And while Jesus says that the meanings of these stories were concealed from many, it was not meant to be so in perpetuity. Rather, Jesus set out these stories to ultimately give light, not to hide the truth. And anything that was hidden from the people would eventually be disclosed and brought into the open. (Luke 8:16-17)
Therefore, whenever anyone asked him the explanations to his parables, he would give them, and the apostles eventually passed these teachings on to everyone they taught.
The question, however, is do people want to know the truth? Are they seeking answers? Or do they just want to be entertained? That’s what the parables did. It separated those who really wanted to see and hear God’s truth from those who were just caught up in the popularity of Jesus.
The trouble with so many church-going people today is that they’re more interested in being entertained than in hearing God’s truth.
Therefore, though they hear the things the pastor preaches, and sing the songs, the words may “tickle their ears” but never penetrate their hearts. And when something does strike their hearts and God speaks, they get uncomfortable and stop listening. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned before, if they do this long enough, they’ll stop hearing God entirely, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophesy that Jesus quoted in Matthew. They see but don’t really see. They hear, but don’t really hear. Rather, they close their eyes (and ears) to God’s truth.
So Jesus warns, “Consider carefully how you listen. Think carefully about what you hear from God. (Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18). If you listen carefully and act on it, God will give you more. But if you don’t, not only won’t you be able to hear God’s voice anymore, you’ll forget what things he’s already taught you.”
But Jesus told his disciples,
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:16-17)
How about you? Do you have eyes that see and ears that hear what God is teaching you?