“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:9)
I have ears. I can hear — most of the time. People have ears; ears are for hearing, are they not? Shouldn’t all people then be hearing Jesus’ message?
When my children were very young, as a parent, I would have a little rhyme to remind them to listen: “Ears go hears”. As a middle school teacher, I’ve been known to still repeat this saying as a way for the younger students to remember. Children are renowned for not hearing instructions, not listening or not engaging with what is being said to them. But as an adult, it is my duty to teach them in a way they will hear, remember and act in the best possible response to what I’m trying to communicate.
We are God’s children, and we, too, know that we often do not hear God’s direction to us. In 1 John 3:1, the Scripture comforts us with spiritual instruction that “the Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God”. In verse 7 in the same chapter, we hear that we are not to let anyone “lead us the wrong way” — not down the garden path, on the rocky ground or among prickly thorns.
We teach our children for their benefit and blessing to enable them to live a safe and secure life. In the same way, God teaches us through his word for the specific direction that throughout our lives, we may experience a bountiful “crop” when we nurture faith in him.
But even in the “good garden soil”, there are bugs and pests, plant diseases, scorching sun and heavy storms that can damage and ruin. Despite our efforts to grow “good seed” in “good soil”, we recognise that sin always disrupts our spiritual growth in God. The devil, the world and our sinful self — all are relentless. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
So what exactly does Jesus want us to hear in this text from Matthew? We are told that Jesus spoke of many things to his disciples. There is no doubt he taught that which we have heard from the beginning: we are to forgive and love one another and love others not merely with words that are heard, but also by our actions and true caring.
God of love, we pray that you open our ears, so we can hear your word, understand it and enact it daily in our lives. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift, who is Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.