Summary: Second Sermon in 2009 Lenten Series, ‘The Body of Christ.’
Can you recall the time when you first heard God speak to you? (Slide 1) The disciples could though they did not understand the full implications of what they were hearing or doing.
For me, it was on a clear, cold, and white January Sunday at the end of the worship service. It was not an audible voice, (like, I have sometimes heard, I will confess,) but rather a very profound impression that I needed to go to the altar to pray. Because of that experience, I came to faith in Christ. I was 8 years old. I, too, am still experiencing the full implications of hearing and responding to God.
Several years ago, I remember hearing that a well-known evangelist, whose name escapes me now, created a controversy when he said, (and again my memory fails me) ‘God does not hear the prayers of ________ ‘and named a group of people.
I respectfully disagreed then, and now with his assertion. For to me the question is not ‘Does God hear the prayers of whomever?’ The question to me is, ‘What does God hear?’
‘Do we hear God?’
I believe that God does hear the prayers of humanity. He heard, as we read in Luke 18, the prayer of the self-righteous religious leader and the heart wrenching prayer of the desperate tax collector. He responded with disgust to the one and gracious acceptance to the other one.
It is more than God hearing our prayers. He does! It’s just that He does not answer all of them! Why? Because some of them are clearly outside of His will and some of them are not yet to be answered by Him.
But God does hear us. (Am I right, church?) But do we hear (and listen to) God?
This reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s statement in which he said to someone “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” To paraphrase then is to say with Lincoln, ‘It is not that God hears us but do we hear God?’
(Slide 2) Today in our Lenten series ‘The Body of Christ,’ is the second sermon entitled, ‘What Does Jesus Hear?’ Last week we started this 40-day journey to the cross as we considered ‘The Eyes of Christ.’
Our main text for this morning is Matthew 13:11-17. In it Jesus is speaking to the disciples about the lack of hearing (read: the lack of understanding) after Jesus told the parable of the sower.
‘Then he explained to them, “You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. 12 To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. 13That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don’t really see. They hear what I say, but they don’t really hear, and they don’t understand. 14This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, which says:
‘You will hear my words,
but you will not understand;
you will see what I do,
but you will not perceive its meaning.
15For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17I assure you, many prophets and godly people have longed to see and hear what you have seen and heard, but they could not.’ (NLT)
An important connection that we need to make this morning is this one: (Slide 2) Hearing -> Listening -> Understanding ->Obedience
Jesus makes very clear connections to each of these actions not just in our main text but throughout His ministry that we have had recalled for us in the Lenten reading earlier in the service. (The reading was titled, ‘The Ears of Christ’ it was written by Harlan Kaden was published by Creative Communications for the Parish in 1992. ©)
Last week I shared that Jesus both ‘saw’ and ‘heard’ the mocking and ridicule as He hung on the cross. Jesus heard many things as He walked this earth and I think it very, very important that we take time this morning to remember and review some of the things Jesus heard and the implications for us today.
(Slide 3) Jesus hears doubt. He heard doubt in the disciples’ voice. In Luke 8 we read the familiar story of the disciples in the boat with Jesus who falls asleep only to be shaken awake with a panicked group yelling, ‘Master, master, we’re going to drown!’