Seeing or Hearing

Seeing or Hearing

Matthew 11:7-24

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


            It is easy to see but far more challenging to hear.  In seeing, we are observers who merely look upon a scene, often with detachment and disengagement. With the advent of the smartphone and its capacity to take videos, people can record tragic events and share them with the world.  I find it remarkable that people are more interested in capturing the event on a video and sharing it on public platforms to gain more hits than in responding to the crisis and helping those in trouble.  The age of mass media has made us indifferent to the circumstances of others.  When a tragedy strikes, people quickly grab their cell phones to record the event but are unresponsive to the needs of the people facing the heartbreaking circumstances.  We are creating a generation of people who become observers.  

            Yet, in many ways, this is no different than Jesus’ day. Like the modern-day Youtuber, they went into the wilderness to see the strange preacher claiming to be a prophet. As people heard of the reports, they wanted to see for themselves who this half-crazed man was baptizing and calling people to prepare for the coming King.  The problem is that they went to see but not to hear.  

            To hear a message requires that we enter into the world of the speaker.  Hearing requires engagement.  It is to listen and engage in a conversation.  To hear is to invite the speaker to shape our ideas and responses.  The people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum had seen the miracles of Jesus.  They had taken the proverbial picture to tell their friends they had seen the miracles occur.  Yet they refused to listen to the message of Jesus, who called them to repentance.  They saw but did not see.  

            In verse 15, Jesus changes their perspective by calling them not just to see the person of John the Baptist or see the miracles of Jesus.  He calls upon them to hear and respond to the message.  Jesus points out that it is not what one observes but how we respond.  Do we take in what we hear and respond to it, assimilating its message into our lives?  Faith is not affirming the facts of the Bible; faith is responding to the message of the Bible.  Faith is putting away the cell phone and responding appropriately to the events around us, which, in this case, is the call of both John and Jesus to repent and surrender our lives to Christ.  It is to acknowledge the rightful ownership of God of our soul.  In our Christian life, we can easily fall into the same pit.  We can go to church, see the worship team perform, see the PowerPoint on the wall and the preacher in the front, but walk out having never heard.  We do not hear the message of scripture, and we do not listen to the voice of God speaking through the preacher as he shares the word of God.  Paul states in Romans 10:17 states, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  In other words, faith comes when we listen and become engaged with the message so that we are transformed by it.  By faith, we accept the statement as authentic and thus live by its principles.  When we go to church on Sunday, we read the Bible in the middle of the week. Are we merely seeing the words and the message, or are we genuinely listening?


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