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,