Hearing and Being Heard; December 21, 2019

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

This is the second time God the Father audibly affirmed Jesus as His son, the first time being when He was baptized. (Matthew 3:17) This time He includes the command, “Listen to Him!” At His baptism, Jesus hadn’t yet started teaching, and those around to hear the voice weren’t His dedicated disciples, but here the audience is Peter, James and John, the disciples closest to Him. You would think they didn’t need to be commanded to listen to Jesus! However, there’s the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt. It is a common phenomenon that a preacher can speak at a different church and be much better received than at the church he pastors. Often, the further from home, the better the reception. Likewise, a visiting speaker can come in and preach essentially the same content that the pastor has been trying to get through to the congregation for months, and they receive it as fresh revelation. Yes, Peter, James and John needed to be told to listen to Jesus! It’s interesting that after being told this, they had the spiritual sensitivity to understand that when Jesus told them Elijah had already come, He was talking about John the Baptist. (verse 13) We too need to listen to those close to us, whom we might actually be tired of listening to! Ideally, we need to have our hearts tuned to recognize God’s voice however and through whomever He chooses to speak, but we are often numbed by the physical … masking what God is saying to our spirit. That is all the more likely when God speaks through someone we hear frequently. We too need the Father to tell us, “Listen to him,” even when the “him” in question is far below Jesus in our estimation.

I have experienced this from both sides. However, it’s been a long time since I’ve sat regularly under someone else’s preaching, so my experience tends to be from the perspective of the speaker. To be honest, at times I have longed to be invited to speak elsewhere, for a conference or just for a service, because when that has happened in the past, the reception has been very gratifying. Elsewhere, I have been used many times in prophecy, but hardly ever right here where I minister all the time. Those subscribed to my blog are many times the number in my local congregation. However, God has used this to teach me faithfulness, and I am grateful. Even such little things as speaking at the interdenominational prayer breakfast can be refreshing, because those who gather for that are actively seeking God, and I generally get really positive feedback when my turn to speak comes around. I am to remember that Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:20) In other words, I’ve got no gripe coming! I am to be faithful, not only to speak but also to pray for my hearers, so that they may receive whatever God says through me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the times that You really are heard through me. The reception to the Gospel story as I gave it at the nursing school Christmas party on Friday was very encouraging. I pray that many of those students would indeed show up for our Christmas Eve service. Help me remember that it doesn’t matter if people hear me, so long as they hear You. May Your name be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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