One of Jesus’ best-known parables was about the Seed and the Sower found in Luke 8: 4-18. The parable in and of itself tells a powerful spiritual truth about the condition of the hearts of those who hear the Word of God and how they receive or reject it. But there are a few words that are sown throughout that we need to notice. Hear. Receive. Listen. The word “hear” or “hearing” appears seven times in this passage. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (v. 8). Reach up and touch the side of your head. Those are ears. For most of us, those ears allow us to hear. But the context tells us that Jesus is not talking about auditory sound waves – He wants His listeners to receive the Word and understand (v. 10). He wants followers who take His Word deep into their hearts and let it work in and through them to produce much fruit for the Kingdom of God.
To receive (v. 13) means to take hold of something with favor and make it your own. Poppy ran to the store yesterday for bread and milk and came back with a surprise for our granddaughter – stickers! She took them from his hand and pressed them to her chest and said, “Oh, thank you, Poppy!” She received his gift with enthusiasm and – well – Joy. We are all guilty of listening to a teacher or preacher read through a Scripture – especially if it is familiar to us – and mentally drifting off. But Jesus said we are to take hold of it and press it into our hearts where it can take root and grow.
But this is the one that piqued my interest the most: “Consider carefully how you listen” (v. 18). Not just what you hear – although that is important – but how you listen. “Listen,” in this context means how we attend to the Word we hear. The writer of Hebrews, speaking of those who turn away, said: “The message they heard was of no value to them because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Heb 4:1-2). Paul said they found no value in it because they believed it was the word of men, not the Word of God (1 Thes 2:13 paraphrased).
The Bible is the “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16) Word of the Sovereign Lord. It is true and powerful and eternal. It is life-changing and life-giving. Moses said: “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life” (Deut 32:47). That’s how we must “hear” the Word. Receive it, Beloved. Believe it. Give your heart to it, and it will give you life.