January 30, 2016
READ: Matthew 13:3-23
Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand (v.9).
Joanne Milne experienced the world as a soundless place. Deaf for the first 39 years of her life, everything changed after she had cochlear implant surgery. The procedure enabled sound vibrations to rouse her auditory nerves. A nurse’s voice was the first noise she heard, and the experience brought her to tears. She said, “Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. . . . I can already foresee how it’s going to be life-changing.”
Addressing His disciples, Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand” (Matthew 13:9). He was speaking about the disciples’ ability to understand the spiritual truths He shared through parables. Jesus often took time to explain the meaning of His stories, yet His followers were “permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, [while] others [were] not” (v.11). Others might hear the sound of His voice, but they wouldn’t truly take it in or comprehend it.
Jesus explained that this disparity was the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy (vv.14-15). Isaiah, who declared the prophecy, described the spiritually deaf this way: “The hearts of these people are hardened” (v.15). A hard heart can exist in those who know of Jesus if they repeatedly disregard His identity as God’s only Son (John 3:16).
Anyone who wants to make Christ the king of his or her life will have “ears to hear” the truth in His teaching. The Holy Spirit helps with this, guiding believers “into all truth” (16:13). Like Jesus’ original disciples, we who know Him are blessed to be able to hear what “many prophets and righteous people longed to . . . hear” (Matthew 13:17).
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
365-day-plan: Genesis 49:1-33
Read 1 John 2:20-21 to see how the Holy Spirit enables spiritual discernment.
When you encounter something in the Bible that doesn’t seem clear, what do you do? How often do you invite the Holy Spirit to help you understand the Bible?