How well do you hear? How well do you listen? How well do you understand? How well do you pay attention? Are you wondering why all these questions? We’ll get to that shortly.
Our current interpretation of what it means to hear is simply to perceive the sound of something. We don’t put as much emphasis on hearing as we do listening. If we are asked if we heard someone speak, we generally interpret the question as someone asking if we perceived the words spoken.
In other cultures, and in our own history, the word meant much more. We need to understand the deeper meaning as we read Scripture. The Greek word used in this passage and throughout the New Testament means each of the questions asked above—hear, listen, understand, and pay attention.
In the passage below, we should look at the first occurrence to mean perceive someone is speaking. The second occurrence should be interpreted as understand or pay attention. In other words, if you can hear, you should pay attention so you can understand.
We see Jesus use this term on multiple occasions in the Gospels. We also see this phrase used several times in Revelation. It always follows a very important lesson Jesus or God is trying to get people to understand. In some instances, it follows a parable. In other instances, it follows a very direct, and sometimes stern, message to His listeners.
When I see Jesus say this phrase, I look at what He said right before it and do my best to understand what His point was. Sometimes, His point is not one I would prefer to hear. Yet, I have come to understand that those are the ones I need to pay closer attention to and figure out how I can apply it to my life.
My suggestion to each of you is to pay particular attention to the lessons Jesus is pointing out when you run across this phrase. I will forewarn you; they aren’t always pleasant lessons. They may mean giving up something you prefer not to give up. They may mean you need to do something you prefer not to do. Yet, these lessons are very important to Jesus, or He would not use this phrase. Therefore, they should be very important to each of us.
I pray we all pay special attention to the lessons Jesus deems important. I pray we look for this phrase when reading Scripture. I pray each one of us will make Jesus’ lessons important in our lives. Hear. Listen. Understand. Pay attention. Learn Jesus’ lessons. Understand His lessons. Make His lessons important to you.
Mark 4:9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”