Listen Carefully (Luke 8.1-21)
Take care then how you hear (18)
Amidst what are at times, difficult teachings to understand, Jesus drops in little keys. They’re easily missed, but not by those who listen carefully (18).
Firstly though, note that having just recounted Jesus’ ministry of forgiveness to a sinful woman, Luke includes, in what reads like a footnote, a comment about women who followed Jesus and provided for him out of their means (2-3). They too had been ministered to by him. Is this another illustration of v. 47?
Apart from the hostility of the religious leaders, Jesus’ biggest challenge was the fickleness of those who responded to his signs and his message. These were not those who simply marvelled, but those who initially responded in a positive way to following him, but whose commitment was short-lived.
Jesus identifies the cause of their failure with the soil, not the sower or the seed. There was nothing wrong with Jesus’ preaching, or his message – which was good news. The problem was with his hearers, and how they heard. They - their heart (15), will (13) and lifestyle (14) - had not allowed Jesus’ message to take deep root. We learn elsewhere that this included reckoning with the full cost of discipleship and being prepared to pay that price.
The initially difficult verses 9-10 mean exactly the same thing. Those to whom it is not given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God are those who will not apply themselves to fully understanding the gospel and allowing it to take root in their lives. This has nothing to do with intelligence or predestination; everything to do with heart, will and lifestyle.
God no more hides truth from people than a person puts a lamp under a bowl or bed (16). If the heart is honest and good (15), then the light of the Gospel will flood in; it will be enlightened about the secrets of the kingdom (10, 16 & 17). But if the heart is deceived or bad, the light that shines on it will be shut out. The secrets of the Kingdom will remain unlocked.
How might God’s word take a deeper root in your life?
Lord God, I praise you for your written word in the scriptures and your living word Jesus Christ. Help me to hear your word with joy, to understand it, and to live it out as a true brother/sister of Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen
Michael Hewat is currently serving as the Senior Minister at West Hamilton Community Church, New Zealand
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash