Mark 4:9 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Observation: Jesus was teaching at the seashore. As the crowd grew, He moved His venue from the shore to a boat put out a short distance into the water. Presumably from there, both visibility and acoustics would be improved. At the conclusion of one of His parables, He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9).

Application: Speaking to large crowds in Jesus’s day must have been daunting. Unless there was a high place to ascend, He would be visible to only a few. Another challenge was how to project sound without benefit of the woofers and microphones we rely upon today. Speaking from a boat would help overcome both problems, as His visibility would be increased and at the same time the water’s surface would help carry the sound of His voice. So in moving to a boat, Jesus seems to have done His part to communicate. Still, for the crowd to benefit from the experience, they had a responsibility as well.

It is not hard to imagine them sitting still, straining to hear the Master’s voice. The quiet lapping of gentle waves against the shore combined with the cry of overhead gulls to create an idyllic setting, interrupted only by the occasional passing of joy-seekers on jet skis. Primitive technology left Jesus few options: He could simply sit patiently as the scream of approaching engines increased and then resume His teaching once they receded. Sometimes, though, He might continue in His usual, maddeningly conversational voice even as laughing skiers roared by, His words completely lost to the straining ears of the crowd.

“Wait,” you say, “that’s not in the Bible! That’s not how it was!” Oh really? Then why did Jesus say in verse 9, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”? It seems He knew that His words would be easily drowned out by my pursuit of worldly priorities. Apparently the crowd at the seashore had the same problem I have today. Their diversions may not have been game shows, fast cars, and the Internet; perhaps instead they had bet on Sunday’s donkey races or were dreaming about the merchandise expected by camel caravan that afternoon.

It has always been hard to discipline myself to hear God. He is faithful to do His part, but He refuses to raise His voice in competition against my higher pursuits. Oh, He could, and when He returns as Judge and King He will indeed arrest my full attention. But for now, as for 2,000 years, He is simply my lover, hoping I in turn will love Him enough to turn aside from other pursuits to listen for His still, small voice.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are teaching me how to hear You. It requires a conscious decision on my part, doesn’t it? It comes down to my focus being either on You, or on all this other “stuff” of life. I choose You.