“(Jesus) in his teaching said, ‘Listen!’”
Mk 4:2, 3 NIV
Our ears admit many sounds to our brain. Many of them “go in one ear and out the other”. We may hear a bird singing but, if we are not keen bird watchers, we will not know the song of one bird from that of another. A person who does study and understand birds will know what variety of bird it is. If we are engrossed in something we are interested in we may never hear some common and casual sounds (like a dog barking), even if they are louder than normal. We can and do “switch on” our hearing and “switch it off” even without deliberately doing so.
Jesus knew this, and so emphasized that it was important for his hearers to become listeners. His message was important. He was bringing God’s truth and this was the first the world would hear of the kingdom of God that was the central point of his teaching. And in order to get behind the parable to its essential message a person had to “listen hard”. A more serious definition of a parable was “A metaphor or story connected with the affairs of daily life is used as an illustration of moral and spiritual truths, on the assumption that what applies in one sphere is relevant also in the others” (D.English, The Message of Mark, p93).
Jesus told his parables to make it easier for people to understand the kingdom. But they are told to us as well and if we are to hear what Jesus has to say we need to “listen hard” for the word of God that comes wrapped up in pleasant stories.
Lord, open my ears that I may listen with interest and faith.