“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (NIV) Matt. 13:9
Jesus would often conclude a lesson during His earthly ministry by saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” For example, when He was discussing a matter about John the Baptist with the disciples, He said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15). After relating The Parable of the Sower, He said, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matt. 13:9). After His explanation of The Parable of the Tares, He said, “…who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 13:43). In His letters to the churches of Asia, Jesus concludes each of them with a similar saying, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29 / 3:6, 13, 22).
What is the point in these sayings? It would be similar to someone saying today, “What is being said to you is important, so you had better pay attention and listen well!” It illustrates the point that Jesus saw a problem that exists even today. Many people today simply don’t listen very well to Bible truth. I sincerely believe this is a primary contributor to the spiritual failures in many Christians. They sit in worship services and Bible classes and are exposed to spiritual truths that can make a difference, but these truths are never really “heard.”
I am reminded of this same problem affecting the apostles during the public ministry of Jesus. For example, Jesus told them repeatedly that He would suffer many things at Jerusalem at the expense of its religious leaders. He would even be killed, but He would be raised again on the third day (see Matt. 16:18-23 / 17:22-23 / 20:17-19). Did they listen? No, they did not. In fact, when the arresting party came for Jesus, the disciple Peter tried to stop the action by wading off into the crowd with a sword (see Matt. 26:51 and John 18:10). On the surface, this action would seem to be commendable from an earthly perspective, but it was not the divine perspective. Jesus came to this lost and dying world to take the punishment for sin that we all deserve. The disciples should have known that. The Jewish nation should have known that (see Isaiah 53), but they had failed to listen to the message.
People of every generation make this same mistake. All of us from time to time miss information that comes our way because we don’t listen very well. But there is some information that no one can afford to miss, that being God’s Word. The problem may be that we are “dull of hearing” as some were in Bible times (Heb. 5:11-12), or the problem might be that of having “itching ears” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Regardless of the cause, truth passes us by that we need to obey.
Much of our education from elementary school on up tells us how to speak, but how much time is spent learning the art of listening? Come the Judgment Day, the sad refrain of many will be, “I wished I had listened better. I was so close to the truth." May we truly heed the challenge of Jesus while there is still yet time to change, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”