Jesus Begins to Teach in Parables
Open Your Bible
BY Seana Scott
I laid on the crisp gurney sheets while a long sheet of paper scrolled out of the machine, like a dot matrix printer from the 1980s. The nurse stopped the printer and tore off the long paper. The electrocardiogram machine listened to my heart much deeper than the natural ear could, even with a stethoscope. Hearing my heart more closely allowed the doctor to understand what my body needed to bring it back to full health.
Sometimes our spiritual lives need something like an electrocardiogram machine so we understand what’s really going on—like when Jesus repeated the idea of “listening” several times in Mark 4, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen” (Mark 4:9). Not everyone had ears to hear.
Jesus taught using everyday imagery to an agricultural community—the seed and soil, the lamp on a stand, growing seed, and mustard seed—to describe the deep spiritual truth that His followers needed. Unless people had “ears to hear,” they missed out on the reality Jesus taught about the kingdom of God.
But in order to hear, we need to listen more closely—and that takes more time. After time with Jesus, the crowd scattered, but the disciples stayed. They walked with Jesus and asked questions. They pondered and marveled. They didn’t rush off to the first-century version of Netflix or fill their schedule with their favorite distraction (what’s yours?). Their top pursuit this day was Jesus.
And in their pursuit, Jesus shared the purpose of the day’s message. The soils described the hearts of people. Some hear the Word but do not believe. Some hear the Word but fall away. Some hear the Word but never produce fruit because they’re choked out by worries and distractions (Mark 4:18–19). But for some, they hear and produce a crop many times over.
I hope we have ears to hear, but I wonder: Are we more distracted than discipled? Do we take time to press in, ponder, and consider the Word of God? Or are we like the crowds that listened, then dispersed?
Once the doctor looked at my EKG, he noticed the skipping and rushing I felt within and said, “Nothing is wrong with your heart. You have anxiety. You need to rest and relax.” Sometimes we all need to slow down, look beyond the surface (even of our own hearts), and listen to Jesus long enough to know what He’s really saying—in His Word and in the quietness of our own souls by His Spirit. Have you slowed down to listen recently?