How Do You Hear the Word of God?


“Take care then how you hear.” – Luke 8:18

In almost every modern Bible I looked at, Luke 8:16-18 is under a heading that says “A Lamp Under a Jar” or “The Parable of the Lamp” or something to that effect. But, this heading breaks up the flow of Jesus’ teaching.

How so?

The heading makes it seem like Jesus’ words about lighting a lamp are a separate teaching. In reality, Jesus is still explaining the parable of the sower to the disciples. Really, Luke 8:4-18 is meant to be understood as one whole teaching.

In Luke 8:8, at the end of the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Then, in the explanation of the parable, Jesus uses the words hear, hearing, or heard five times. It is important to note that each of the four types of soil in the parable heard the word of God.

Therefore, we know that Jesus’ teaching on the lighting the lamp is still explaining the parable of the sower to the disciples because Jesus concludes his words on lighting the lamp by saying, “Take care how you hear.”

The parable of the lamp tells us why the sower is sowing his seed, the word of God. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The word of God is sown so that there will be a light to lead others in the darkness. No one would light a lamp and then cover it up. What purpose would that serve?

But, once he says you light a lamp for people to see the light, Jesus says, “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” The word of God is like. It has to be buried, put under ground, hidden. But, when a seed is buried under ground, no matter how you bury it, it always grow to the light. Eventually, what was hidden, the seed, comes to light. And, when it comes to light it becomes known.

Jesus is still explaining the parable of the sower. If you want the seed, the word of God, to produce something, it needs to be hidden, buried, in your heart, in order for it to produce.

Then, Jesus concludes his explanation of the parable of the sower by saying, “Take care then how you hear.” Remember, all four types of soil heard, but it is how you hear that matters.

How does the path hear?

The path is hard. Therefore, the seed can’t penetrate it. So, whenever the path hears a word, it immediately says, “You’re wrong,” “That’s not right,” “I don’t believe that,” “That’s not what I was taught,” “That’s not what my pastor said,” “That’s blasphemous,” “You’re a false teacher,” and so on.

If when you hear a word you immediately reject it, then you are hearing like the hard path.

How does the rock soil hear?

In rocky soil, there is a little bit of room for a seed to take root. Therefore, because the seed cannot send roots down at first, the seed sprouts up right away. So, whenever the rocky soil hears a word it gets very excited, takes great joy, is filled with happiness. The rock soil leaves church saying, “What a great word today,” “That word really touched me,” Powerful word today,” and so on. But, in a few days, the word is forgotten. “What did the pastor preach about last week?” Rocky soil goes with the initial excitement, but doesn’t meditate and ponder the word. So, the word hasn’t become their own. It has taken no root. So, they lose it.

If you when hear a word you get really excited but don’t follow it up with consideration and meditation, then you are hearing like the rocky soil.

How does the thorny soil hear?

In the thorny soil, the seed starts growing but it gets choked by life. Whenever this soil hears the word of God, it says “That’s not practical,” “Stop being idealistic,” “Get real,” “No one is expected to do that,” “That’s not possible for me,” and so on. The thorny soil hears and then gives example after example where that word could never happen or they should not be expected to do that. The thorny soil says “What about Hitler?” Or, “What if someone broke into your house…?”

If you hear a word and your thoughts immediately go to how it can’t be done and how it is not practical to do what the word says because of your cares, your concerns, your pleasures, your circumstances, then you are hearing like the thorny soil.

How does the good soil hear?

Whenever the good soil hears it hides and buries the word. It holds the word in the heart for consideration and meditation. The good soil is patient, waiting for the word to work. The good soil keeps thinking about the word it heard. It goes back to it again and again. Unlike the others, the good soil doesn’t react immediately.

If you hear a word and you consider it, think about it, mull it over in your mind for days, weeks, maybe even years, before reacting to it, then you are hearing like the good soil.

We have all heard like each of these four soils at some point in our life. And, it is likely that we still hear in all four ways at different times about different issues. But, we should take care how we hear so that more and more hear like the good soil.

For,  it’s only when we hear like the good soil that we will really hear the words of Jesus.

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