Luke 8:8 “….When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
What you see with your eyes and hear with your ears can change dramatically, depending on where your heart is at.
Jesus was often speaking in parables to the people. The people’s depth of learning was dependent on their ability to receive the teaching.
What is it that makes some people receive a message differently than others?
If I was to sit in on a lecture on astrophysics, I would be struggling to associate the teaching with what I know, the subject matter might interfere with my understanding of the concepts being talked about. The more I know about interplanetary science, mathematical equations, and various celestial laws, the more I would be able to appreciate the topic being discussed. If I know next to nothing about a subject, an in depth discussion on the matter would be lost to me.
When Jesus taught, He taught the Truth as it is revealed in scripture. The fulfillment of scripture was happening right before the peoples eyes and most could not see it.
Why couldn’t the people recognize the truth being revealed?
They didn’t know the Word of God.
No matter what is revealed, the listener will wrestle with the message as long as they struggle receiving it.
Jesus brought a rebuke against the Pharisees of His day, the religious order of priests who deemed themselves as safeguards to the Torah law could not receive anything new. John the Baptist first brought a proclamation of preparation to the people. His message brought with it an abstaining from anything of the flesh and a strong conviction for those who forsook the message of God’s Word.
Jesus, in contrast to John the Baptist, entered in with the people, went to their houses and mixed with the defiled and poor.
Neither John the Baptist in his degradation nor Jesus in His commonality were accepted by this hypocritical religious order.
Matthew 11:16-17 ““But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying:
‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not lament.’
Whether in mourning like John, or in celebration like Jesus (the bridegroom), the Pharisees could not see beyond their own position of self-righteousness.
If you think you have it all figured out, then you close yourself off to anything new.
Luke 8:10 “And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that‘
Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
“We ought to take heed of the things that will hinder our profiting by the word we hear; to take heed lest we hear carelessly and slightly, lest we entertain prejudices against the word we hear; and to take heed to our spirits after we have heard the word, lest we lose what we have gained. “Matthew Henry
Last year I was sharing the gospel with a very devout Mormon. As we worked our way through different concepts he acted inspired, as if the information was filling in many of the questions he has had in the past. After a few occasions of meeting and talking with him, he began to take what he had learned and attempted to fit it back into his mormon theology.
I realized that no amount of truth in learning can lead someone to Christ if they are bent on keeping their belief system, no matter how much their system conflicts with God’s Word.
Most of the people Jesus spoke with were practicing Jews. When they listened to Jesus’ teaching they undoubtedly tried to reconcile what Jesus was saying with what they knew concerning the Torah. The way the Jew’s of Jesus’ day received the spoken Word was tainted by Pharisaical teaching.
Today, if Jesus were to stand up on a hill and began to deliver one of His sermons, the people listening would be judging His message based off their position as well.
In this post-modern society, truth has become relative to each individuals interpretation. If society deems something as good for the commonwealth, it is also recognized as Truth and therefore anything opposed to it would be shamed or relegated to error.
Some people are apathetic, others are full of themselves, but then there are a few who just might realize their ideology has been a complete failure and will receive the Word with joy.
When the Word of God is spoken—how do you receive it?
How do you know if it is True or not?
Luke 8:12-15 “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
My mormon friend would be counted among the ones on the wayside. The deceptive influence of any belief system that is contrary to God’s Word is ultimately a doctrine of demonic influence.
The people who have the rocky soil from my experience have been those who haven’t allowed the rocky soil of their hearts to be tilled up and prepared. Letting go of prejudices or expectations often keeps a person looking beyond what is being presented now. Pride is a very large determining factor in keeping a person from receiving the Word to heart.
The thorns of life seem to snage and tear as a person tries to navigate through it’s treacherous maze. Riches continuel their tearing allure, the stab of cares seem to take priority, and the pleasures of life hook into the flesh without letting go. A flesh that has enjoyed being filled up continually without anything hindering it’s desires.
Those who have good ground receive the Word of God in the manner in which it was given.
- Without excuse.
- Without a fall back plan.
- Without a care to the past.
Those who received the Word, then witness it’s healing and restoration effects from the start. God restores the humble and contrite spirit by moving them from a position of death into a position of life. From the moment the Word is truly received, the Word takes residence within the person who received it.
Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
You see, the Spirit of God knows those whose hearts are true. The Spirit not only takes residence but begins to lead them in Truth. This process of sanctification requires patient endurance and trust.
The identifying mark of someone ready to receive the seed of God’s Word is humility. What then comes on the heels of humility is a contrite spirit, one that recognizes their sins and is willing to repent of them. The Moral Law makes sin recognizable.
Jesus characterized these people as being child-like in their faith—a faith that shows itself in innocence and acceptance of God’s authority.
Matthew 11:25-27 “At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
For those who then accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the mystery of the Godhead is revealed. This knowledge is not just implanted like some computer upload, it is given through the obedient walk of faith as the Spirit leads.
Luke 8:21 “But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
Do you want to be counted among Jesus’ family?
If you do, the journey will be well worth the prize.
Receiving the Gospel takes a willingness to listen, a receptivity to God’s Truth, and a soft heart to receive all that God wants to reveal in you.
If you can lower yourself, your ideologies, and preconceived notions enough to listen—you’ll receive the life giving hope that so many have searched for and missed.