He Who Has Ears to Hear

Luke 8:8 "Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great. As He said these things, He would call out, He who has ears to hear, let him hear." As Jesus tells the story of the farmer who sowed seed, a lesson not about evangelism, but listening and heeding what God says, He ended His point with the principle, "He who has hears, let him hear." That expression is used of the seven churches in Revelation.

He who has ears. I've never seen a person without ears. I've known some who couldn't hear and you had to shout at them. I've seen some with little ears, big ears, cute ears, pierced ears, ears that stood out. Boxers are said to have cauliflower ears because they were punched so many times. But I've never seen a person who never had ears. I suppose it could exist. Jesus is using this as a point of reference. You have ears, use them. Listen to the word of God.

Sometime ago, I was teaching a class at a congregation I was visiting. I was teaching about one of the parables. The world 'parable' means to lay alongside of or to compare. It is to lay an unknown spiritual truth beside a known physical illustration. I told a humorous story involving trying to pick out a ripe watermelon. I was trying to get the audience to understand that comparisons are a part of life. Simple funny story and I went on to talk about one specific parable. The class lasted about forty minutes. As soon as the class was over, a man came approached me with a piece of paper. It was written instructions, front and back on how to pick out a watermelon. There were several points on how to do it correctly. Not only did he share that with me, but in the few moments between class and the worship period, he read the whole thing to me. I was thankful and stuck the piece of information in my pocket. I still have it today. It dawned on me that while I was teaching about the Lord's parable, this guy was writing out instructions about selecting watermelons. He never heard anything past my story. The parable that I shared was missed because he was busy making sure I'd know how to choose a ripe melon the next time I went to the store.

I wondered if anyone ever did that to Jesus. I wonder while He was teaching about the sower, if someone approached Him afterwards and explained how important it is not to waste seed on thorny ground or upon the road way. Maybe a better way of casting the seed would have been shown to Jesus. Maybe some farmer thought he'd best help this carpenter turned teacher understand such things. Then there is the parable of the shepherd who left the 99 sheep to go looking for the one lost sheep. I could see a shepherd explaining to Jesus that such a shepherd would need helpers because if he left the 99, then they would wander off. And in all of this, the lessons are missed. The point is missed because someone feels compelled to correct a story or give helpful advice about how to do things better.

All that got me to thinking about how I listen to others preach. There have been times that I have taken notes of someone else for the sole purpose of preaching that very sermon myself. There have been times that I was a critical listener and I caught mannerism and mistakes that bothered me. And then I think of the Lord's simple words, "He who has ears, let him hear." Maybe I have been no different than the watermelon man who wanted to help me out.


We preachers spend a lot of time with younger preachers trying to help them and shape them into being better speakers and maybe we ought to teach people how to be better listeners. Let him hear, is what Jesus was after.

It takes an open heart and mind to hear. Distractions, both, externally and internally, can keep us from hearing. Outside noise, whether from crying babies, someone's phone going off, traffic going down the street can distract us from being focused. More than that, the internal things, such as, worry, stress, running tomorrow's schedule through our minds, can keep us from really hearing.

It seems that just as there is a preparation that the preacher must engage in before he stands behind the pulpit, there ought to be a similar preparation by the listeners on the other side of the pulpit. Coming with a heart to hear, learn, grow and be challenged takes some effort. Maybe it would help if we didn't fill our minds with the things of the world such as watching the news before we came to worship. Maybe if we listened to hymns in the car instead of the radio, it would help us listen better. Maybe if we got up just a tad bit earlier, had a real prayer, read a few verses, then we would find ourselves ready to truly worship the Lord. Coming tired, stressed, busy is nothing more than that crowded heart that the parable warns about.

Maybe it would help if I brought my Bible, took out a pen and wrote down a few notes. Maybe it would help if on the way home, we talked about the lesson, not from the standpoint of a critic, but much more from the standpoint of a listener, we'd get more out of our listening.

The greatest sermons are of no value if the audience doesn't hear. There is a physical side to this. The folks that run sound systems and mics must understand what they are doing. Those loud shrieks that come from the sound systems scares everyone and it disrupts the flow of things. It is important that congregations get folks who know what they are doing behind all the buttons and equipment. That's one side of it. The other side is that the preacher must have something to say that folks will listen to. Boring sermons coming from bored preachers only bores the audience. Plug it in, preacher! Get passionate about what you are doing. You are preaching the amazing word of God. Put thought, effort and time into your lesson. Make every lesson your best. Someone asked me the other day if I drank an energy drink on Sunday mornings. I told him, 'No. I've never had one in my life.' I then went on to say that I love what I do and I love to preach. That alone gets me pumped up. The preacher must have something to say.

The audience, he who has ears, let him hear. This applies not just to listening to a sermon, but how we read the Bible. See yourself in those passages. Ask, 'what would I have done?' Make it personal. Make it practical. Make it real. Make it change your life.

Listening ears...that's what the Lord is looking for. The Lord doesn't need a reviewer. The Lord doesn't need help. The Lord doesn't need instructions on how to sow. The Lord needs listening ears. Listen to the Lord. He has something to say.