January 10: What Kind of Hearer Are You?
Genesis 18–19:29; Matthew 13:1–43; Ecclesiastes 4:1–7
While parables were often told to make truth tangible, in Matt 13, we find that this wasn’t always the case. When His disciples question why He speaks in parables, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah: “For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they hear with difficulty, and they have shut their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them” (Matt 13:15).
This is the case of in parable of the Sower and the Seed. The seed hits the open path, the rocky ground, the thorns, and the good soil, and Jesus describes four hearers who receive the good news in different ways. We should examine this parable and ask ourselves, “What kind of hearer am I?”
Do we seek to really understand the gospel? When we hear it told again and again, does it merely lay on the surface as commonplace? When our faith is put to the test, do we find ourselves putting hope in everything else but the good news? Or, when we become anxious about the cares of this world, do we find ourselves grasping for a firm foundation that isn’t there?
The seed that falls on the good soil describes a completely different reception. This hearer receives the word and “hears it and understands it.” It doesn’t stop there, however. The hearer is also known for his good works, which display a heart that has been changed. These hearers bear fruit according to what they have been given: “But what was sown on the good soil—this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces, this one a hundred times as much, and this one sixty, and this one thirty” (Matt 13:23).
Jesus emphasizes that the pursuit of Him isn’t lethargic, or merely emotional, and it isn’t cerebral. It involves pursuing Him with all of our being—in a posture of humility, with an ear that hears and a life that is changed. It involves complete surrender to His will.
What is your posture before God? Do you come with humility—ready to hear the good news?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Again the Lord appeared unto him in the plain of Mamre, as he sat in his rent door about the heat of the day, And he lifted up his eyes, and looked: and lo, three men stood by him, and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the ground. And he said, Lord, if I have now found favor in thy sight, go not, I pray thee, from thy servant. Let a little water, I pray you, brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may comfort, afterward ye shall go your ways: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, Make ready at once three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran to the beasts, and took a tender and good calf, and gave it to the servant, who hasted to make it ready. And he took butter and milk, and the calf which he had prepared, and set before them, and stood himself by them under the tree: and they did eat. Then they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he answered, Behold, she is in the tent. And he said, I will certainly come again unto thee according to the time of life: and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son: and Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. (Now Abraham and Sarah were old and striken in age, and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of woman.) Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old, and my lord also, shall I have lust? And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I certainly bear a child, which am old? (Shall anything be hard to the Lord? as the time appointed will I return unto thee, even according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.) But Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not: for she was afraid. And he said, It is not so: for thou laughedst. Afterward, the men did rise up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do. Seeing that Abraham shall be indeed a great and a mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him that he will command his sons and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord to do righteousness and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham, that he hath spoken unto him. Then the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is exceedingly grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to that cry, which is come unto me: and if not, that I may know. And the men turned thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? If there be fifty righteous within the city, wilt thou destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? Be it far from thee from doing this thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be even as the wicked, be it far from thee. Shall not the Judge of all the world do right? And the Lord answered, If I shall find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then will I spare the place for their sakes. Then Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have begun to speak unto my Lord, and I am but dust and ashes, If there shall l lack five of fifty righteous, wilt thou destroy all the city for five? And he said, if I find there five and forty, I will not destroy it. And he yet spake unto him again, and said, What if there shall be found forty there? Then he answered I will not do it for forty’s sake. Again he said, Let not my Lord now be angry that I speak, What if thirty be found there? Then he said, I will not do it, if I find fifty there. Moreover he said, Behold now, I have begun to speak unto my Lord, What if twenty be found there? And he answered, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. Then he said, Let not my Lord be now angry, and I will speak but this once, What if ten be found there? And he answered, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the Lord went his way, when he had left communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned unto his place. … But yet God destroyed the cities of the plain, God thought upon Abraham, and sent Lot out from the midst of the destruction, when he overthrew the cities, wherein Lot dwelled. (Genesis 18-19:29)
- And the same day went out of the house, and set by the sea side. And great multitudes resorted unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat down: and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then he spake many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow. And as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and thee fowls came and devoured them up. And some fell upon stony ground, where they had not much earth, and anon they sprung up, because they had no depth of earth. And when the sun was up, they were parched, and for lack of rooting withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up, and choked them. And some again fell in good ground, and brought forth fruit, one corn a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and another thirtyfold. He that ears to hear, let him hear. Then the disciples came, and said to him, Why speakest thou to them in parables? And he answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables, because they seeing, do not see: and hearing, they hear not, neither understand. So in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which prophesy saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. For this people’s heart is waxed fat, and their ears are dull of hearing, and with their eyes they s have winked, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should return, that I might heal tushem. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.say For verily I say unto you, that many Prophets, and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Hear ye therefore the parable of the Sower. Whensoever any man heareth the word of that kingdom, and understandeth it not, that evil one cometh, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart: and this is he which hath received the seed by the way side. And he that received seed in the stony ground, is he which heareth the word, and incontinently with joy received it, Yet hath he no root in himself, and endureth but a season: for as soon as tribulation or persecution cometh because of the world, by and by he is offended. And he that received the seed among thorns, he that heareth the word: but the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he is made unfruitful. But he that received the seed in the good ground, is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it, which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while he slept, there came his enemy and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his t. And when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. Then came then came the servants of the householder, and said unto him, Master, sowest thou not good seed in thy field? from when then hath it tares? And he said unto them, Some envious man hath done this. Then the servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest ye go about to gather the tares, ye pluck up also with them the wheat. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye first the tares, and find them in sheaves to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:1-43).
- So I turned and considered all the oppressions that are wrought under the sun, and behold, the tears of the oppressed, and none comforteth them, and lo, the strength is of the hand of them that oppress them, and none comforteth them. Wherefore I praised the dead which are now dead, above the living, which are yet alive. And I count him better than them both, which hath not yet been: for he hath not seen the evil works which are wrought under the sun. Also I beheld all travail, and all perfection of works, that this is the envy of a man against his neighbor: this also is vanity and vexation of spirit. The fool foldeth his hands, and eateth up his own flesh. Better is an handful quietness, than two handfuls with labor and vexation of spirit. Again I returned, and saw vanity under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 4:1-7)