Do you See or Hear

How well do you know the Bible? If you are like me, you might say, "The more I study the Bible, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn." This is because the Bible is truly vast in scope, covering thousands of years, and the combined human experience of all generations. It is also because the Bible is the "Living Word," offering new meanings as we are confronted with new challenges and circumstances.

Jesus came into a Jewish culture in which their understanding of the scriptures had ossified into a rigid code of conduct. He was challenged to reveal the truths of scripture that had been lost somewhere along the way. He taught in parables, but some did not receive his teachings.

When asked why he taught in parables (Matt 13), the answer Jesus gave revealed more about the listeners than the speaker. Jesus replied, "The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: 'You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.'"

The keys to hearing and seeing what Jesus wants to show us are openness and humility. We must approach the scriptures, ready for God to reveal something wonderful and new. We must pray, expecting God to speak back. And we must study scripture together, prepared to learn something new.

In Acts 10:9-16, there is a beautiful story about Peter being confronted with such a challenge. He had a vision of a sheet being lowered, holding many unclean animals. He heard the voice of God saying, "Arise, Peter, kill and eat." This mortified Peter, who could not stomach the idea of eating unclean food. Eventually, he understood that the vision was God's way of nudging him to share the gospel with Gentiles. Without humility before God and an openness to understand scripture in a new way, Peter would have missed the point entirely.

If I hear Jesus right, dull hearts shut eyes, and deaf ears impede healing. Let's renew our sense of wonder that Jesus desires a broken heart (repentance), and from it, he makes all things new.
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Brian Dale

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