Now You Hear It, Now You Don’t

Manuscript

13 That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down beside the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore.
3 He said many things to them in parables: “A farmer went out to scatter seed. 4 As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. 6 But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots. 7 Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. 8 Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. 9 Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

18 “Consider then the parable of the farmer. 19 Whenever people hear the word about the kingdom and don’t understand it, the evil one comes and carries off what was planted in their hearts. This is the seed that was sown on the path. 20 As for the seed that was spread on rocky ground, this refers to people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. 21 Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away. 22 As for the seed that was spread among thorny plants, this refers to those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 23 As for what was planted on good soil, this refers to those who hear and understand, and bear fruit and produce—in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one.” (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-39, Common English Bible)

Several years ago, in 2005, yes I looked it up, about five years before my dad passed away, Cindy and I went to Boerne and spent the July 4th week with my folks. My father had hearing difficulties for about as long as I can remember. But, the truth is, his greatest hearing difficulty is convenient hearing and not paying attention to what is being said around him. That can be said of many of us.

Sunday afternoon he and I were watching baseball games on television. When the Astros’ game was over we turned on the Ranger’s game. Kenny Rogers, the baseball player, not the singer, was pitching for the Rangers that day. For those who may not remember back that far, or who I can’t understand, don’t pay attention to baseball, Kenny Rogers went after two television photographers a few days before. He jerked the camera from the shoulder of one and then kicking it several times. I don’t know if the camera was damaged or not. Following this tirade, Major League Baseball suspended him for 20 games and fined him $50,000.

When we turned the Ranger’s game on, who was pitching, Kenny Rogers. We talked about how Rogers had appealed his suspension and allowing him to play until the appeal was heard. My Dad even said that he hoped Rogers would be picked for the American League All-Star team so he wouldn’t be able to play. Dad got half his wish. Rogers was selected to the All Star team but got to play because Major League Baseball still had not heard is appeal.

As the game went on, one at a time, Cindy, my mother, my late brother-in-law, my sister, and then our son Christopher and his girl friend walked into the room. As each came in and saw Rogers on the mound they said, “I thought he was suspended. How can he be playing?” And, each time patiently at first, not so patiently after the fourth interruption of the game, I explained that Major League Baseball rules allow a player to appeal his suspension and keep playing until his appeal is heard. So Rogers was allowed to play.

Monday morning my dad hears on the morning television news that Rogers had pitched the day before and exclaims, “I thought he was suspended, how could he have pitched.” My question is, how could he have not heard it any of the six times I explained it and even worse, he watched almost he entire game, how could he have not seen Kenny Rogers pitching the day before? He was even the one who had turned the game on.

II I guess my words to my dad were like seeds scattered on a path that the birds came and ate. I don’t think that they could be seeds scattered on the rocky places that sprung up but were scorched by the sun. I don’t think that they were like the seeds scattered among the thorns and were choked out by the other plants. That would mean that he at least heard a little bit and probably chose to ignore it. He certainly wasn’t the seed scattered on good soil because he just didn’t get it at all.

I have learned over the years that such is all too true. And, it isn’t just true with my father. There are many of us with hearing that is convenient at best. I know, and I understand that there are those without hearing and even those with hearing loss. I am one who has some moderate hearing loss. And, I know my dad is too. Still, if we are honest with ourselves and with each other, at least for many of us our greatest hearing problem isn’t a physical problem. For many of us anyway, we hear much of what we want to hear. Many things that are said to us or around us, we tune out or we don’t pay attention to. Such was the case during the Rangers game last Sunday afternoon.

III We live in a society that doesn’t want to listen or perhaps has lost the ability to listen. Maybe we all have selective. Perhaps there is too much noise around us, distracting us from what others may be saying. Then again, could we think that we don’t have time to listen?

The first part of the lesson we read a few minutes ago closes with Jesus saying, “Everyone who has ears should pay attention..” Yet all too often, we just don’t want to listen or we don’t have the ability to listen to one another. And, it seems to me that such inability would also inhibit our ability or desire to hear when God is speaking to us.

IV This morning we continue our sermon series, “Four Parables” as we look at “The Parable of the Sower.” In this lesson Jesus says that a farmer went out in the field to sow his seeds. Think for a minute about spreading seeds like we talked about last week, by hand, broadcasting seeds onto a field or even like last week, in a yard. As you scatter the seeds they can and do go everywhere. Some go to where you want, but others go to places that you don’t, like the flowerbeds I talked about last Sunday. They also go to places that have no real possibility of growing anything. Jesus said that some went on the path where the birds ate them up. The path, sidewalks, there isn’t much difference. Some went to rocky areas, places where there wasn’t much soil and the plants couldn’t get much in the way of a root system.

When the heat came they burned up and died. Some fell in the thorny places and were chocked out by the other plants around them. But, some fell on good soil, and produced a good crop, many times the amount of seed that was planted.

I understand that idea. Last week I told you about moving into Lovelady, and into a brand new house. With a brand new house comes a brand new yard. Before we moved in a member of the church came by to plant grass seed. He broadcast the seed. I am sure that some went onto the sidewalk and the birds came and ate it. There weren’t any rocky places unless you count the driveway, so that wasn’t a problem, but there were flowerbeds and some of the seed went there. The point is, when you scatter seed, some of it goes where you want, but some of it goes into and maybe even takes root in places that you don’t want.

This parable might be difficult to understand if it stopped with Jesus saying,

Everyone who has ears should pay attention.” It would be cryptic. At times, it is difficult to get the real point that Jesus is trying to make when he used parables. That might have been the case here except following verse 17 Jesus explains “The Parable of the Sower.”

18 “Consider then the parable of the farmer. 19 Whenever people hear the word about the kingdom and don’t understand it, the evil one comes and carries off what was planted in their hearts. This is the seed that was sown on the path. 20 As for the seed that was spread on rocky ground, this refers to people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. 21 Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away. 22 As for the seed that was spread among thorny plants, this refers to those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 23 As for what was planted on good soil, this refers to those who hear and understand, and bear fruit and produce—in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one.” (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-39, Common English Bible)

With Jesus’ explanation we have a clearer picture of what Jesus was saying to those gathered to hear him. All of the seeds that went to the places the sower never intended, are people who use their selective hearing or ignore all together what God may be saying. We may hear about the Kingdom of God, and yet we don’t hear. The seeds may be planted within us but they never really take root deeply in our hearts.

On the other hand, there are also the seeds that are scattered on the good soil of the heart. They are seeds that take firm hold because we are not only attentive when the Word of God is spoken; we often fail to use what we hear to help cultivate the faith that is growing inside of us. God is speaking. Are we listening?

V I think when Jesus says, “He who has ears let him hear” he is saying to us; “You have the ability to hear. The voice of God is calling you into a relationship. Take the time and stop what you are doing and listen. God may be speaking to you.” That is especially true when we pray and when we read Scripture. Stop and listen. You may hear the voice of God speaking to you.

When we live with the idea of now you hear it, now you don’t, our faith becomes the seeds that fall in places where it is difficult to impossible for it to survive. Yet when we open our ears and we listen to the word of God, the seeds of faith are planted in good soil. We hear the word of God when we read the words of Scripture, when we pray, from the things that we see in nature and the world around us. We hear it sometimes by God speaking to us from the words of others that share our world. We can even hear it through the still small voice of our conscience. But, we have to be listening or we might miss it.

We are about to enter into a time of Holy Communion. When we speak the Communion liturgy together, part of it is a prayer. We address God as a part of the liturgy. It seems to me, this might be a place to jump start our listening. Participating in the supper together could well be the place to hear God speaking to you.

Now you hear it, now you don’t, is selective hearing and if we heard at all, before long it goes away. What we really need is “Now I hear it… Yeah I still hear it.” Then the seeds of faith are growing in the richest soil of our lives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s