"And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!

Mark chapter 4, the parable of the sower. For those unfamiliar, the parable is taught by Jesus and he is telling those with him about a farmer and how the seed he sowed landed on different types of ground. At the end of the first section of the text, Jesus says, "let anyone with ears to hear listen"; it seems a bit funny that Jesus would say this, but lets take a deeper look.

Jesus gave a command to those around him before he continued explaining the parable. The command was to listen. Jesus also gave an invitation, the invitation was to have ears to hear. Jesus is inviting those with a willingness to be attentive and to listen to what was to be said. This is important to me because it lets me know that Jesus gives commands and invitations in the same breath.

The thing that really stood out to me, is Jesus is inviting those who have a willingness to hear, to listen. If there is no willingness to hear, then there is no willingness to listen?

What is the difference?

Hear: To perceive (sound) by the ear; To learn by hearing; be told by others

Listen: To make an effort to hear something; to pay attention; heed; An act of listening

This verse made me pause and after considering the definitions of what it means to hear and to listen, I went back to the text then looked at my life. I can honestly say, there have been times where I did not want to hear what was being said to me and I did not listen. What was suggested and told, I did not follow.

Just as I have been unwilling to hear from those around me, I have also been unwilling to hear what the Lord has to say. What I am learning, is there is a correlation between hearing and listening and understanding.

When I am willing to hear from the Lord, to perceive the sound He has made I am more willing to listen to Him; to pay attention to what He has said. When that happens, I am in a place to gain understanding. Mark 4:10 is where Jesus begins to explain the parable and where He begins to give more details. This makes verse 9 even more important.

When Jesus says, "let anyone with ears to hear listen", He is setting the reader (me) and the listener (those with Him) up to gain understanding. But there has to be a willingness, otherwise the message goes right over my head, and as seen in the text it goes over the heads of some of those listening.

My hope is to allow myself to have a willingness to hear from the Lord at all times! That in being willing to hear, I may become a better listener. In that, I will gain more understanding. A greater understanding is what the Lord offers me, but I must first be willing to hear what He has to say.

I will leave us with a prayer,

Father I thank you for your goodness and for your mercies. I thank you for guiding me to understanding. I ask now for your help, I want to want to have a willingness to hear from you at all times. I no longer want fear of a "no" or fear of a "yes" to stop me from hearing you. I ask for your forgiveness, for thinking I have a better understanding than you. I acknowledge that my unwillingness to hear from you leads me to pride and to feel I know something you don't. I acknowledge that as a lie and I accept the truth that you know far more than I and you delight in leading me to greater understanding. I pray I would grow in willingness to hear from you and to grow in listening when you speak.

It's in your son Jesus' name I pray, amen