“HE WHO HAS AN EAR
LET HIM HEAR!”
Adapted sermon by
Elder Hsieh – Taiwan
On five different
occasions in the four gospels, Jesus says, “He who has
ears to hear, let him hear!”—three times in the book of Matthew, once in the
book of Mark, and once in the book of Luke. The actual total is seven times if
each occurrence of the parable of the sower is counted separately. Including
the eight times it is recorded in the book of Revelation, this statement
appears 15 times in the Bible, 13 of which are spoken.
Among all of our
facial features, the function of the ear is to hear and to listen. Everyone has
ears. Some people are born with perfect ears, while others are born with
imperfect ones. That is, they are partially or fully deaf. The ears to which
Jesus refers, however, are not perfect ears but, rather, spiritual ones.
He is instructing
the listener to pay heed to an especially important teaching. “To hear” is not
the simple act of hearing but also of obeying. Unlike many who “seeing they do
not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Mt ), we must be attentive and obey Jesus’
teachings so that His words are not spoken in vain.
We are also
entrusted with the mission to impart the message of salvation onto others but
if we do not heed or listen to the Lord’s teachings, then our hearers will also
listen in vain, and His message would fall on deaf ears.
Therefore, before we
instruct others to accept the good news of Jesus Christ, we need to make sure
that the seed of the gospel is, first and foremost, firmly planted in us. And
from this proclamation, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” we learn
several teachings about how we ought to preach.
ACKNOWLEDGE JESUS IS CHRIST
“And if you are willing to receive
it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear,
let him hear!” (Mt 11:14-15)
Jesus described John the Baptist as the
“Elijah who [was] to come.” What was the importance of his coming? Why did
Jesus call for those who had ears to hear? Who was Elijah?
Elijah was a great prophet of the Lord whose
victory over 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel showed the Israelites the one
true God and caused them to turn their hearts back to Him (1 Kings 18:20-40).
This was the same Elijah who “[turned] the hearts of the fathers to the
children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest [the Lord] come
and strike the earth with a curse,” as recorded in the book of Malachi (Mal
God would send another Elijah to the
Israelites before the apocalypse. This Elijah of the New Testament was John the
Baptist, whose mission was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
He was the person who prepared the way for
the Lord Jesus (Is 40:3; Mal 3:1; Mt 3:3; Mk 1:1-3). He came “baptizing in the
wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mk
1:4; Lk 3:3). This baptism of repentance prepared the hearts of those
who were baptized to receive the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:4).
He bore witness for Jesus, saying, “Behold!
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said,
‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for
He was before me’” (Jn -30).
Today, we are
entrusted with the mission to turn the hearts of men back to the hearts of the
heavenly Father, to bring others to repentance, and to unite them with the
All our efforts
point to the Lord Jesus Christ and not ourselves, so that all will come to
accept Him as their Lord and Savior. We are not preaching ourselves or our own
glory, but the glory of the Son of God.
ENSURE OUR OWN SALVATION
The Parable of the Sower (Mt 13:3-9; Mk 4:3-9: Lk
In this parable,
the same seed was sown in four different places and produced four different
crops. The people who received seed by the wayside were those from whom Satan
would snatch away the word of God to prevent them from believing and being
saved, because they heard His word and did not understand it.
The people who
received the seed on stony places were the ones who heard the word and received
it with joy, but their belief was temporary because the word did not take root
in their heart. When they were tempted (or persecuted), they gave up.
Those who received
the seed among the thorns were the ones who heard the word but were unfruitful
because they were choked by the cares, riches, and pleasures of the world. The
seed that fell on good ground represents the people who heard the word, kept it
in their good, honest heart, and patiently bore fruit (Lk 8:4-15).
However, there are various
types of good ground, which is why there were thirty, sixty, or hundredfold
yields of crops (Mt 13:9, Mk 4:8). This parable tells us that it is very
difficult for a person to obtain salvation. Only one out of four people is
Those who are fruitful
bear different types of fruits, just as those who receive the Holy Spirit bear
different fruits of the Spirit (Gal -23).
These fruits of the Spirit will be important in determining salvation on
Judgment Day (-13).
The Parable of the Tares (Mt -43)
This parable tells us that Jesus purchased
the church, which is His body, with His own blood (Act ; Eph ). The seeds that were sown were good, but
the devil came and sowed tares among the wheat. So when the grain sprouted and
produced a crop, the tares also appeared.
The owner, fearing that gathering up the
tares would also uproot the wheat, ordered his servants to leave the tares
alone. The tares represent the members in church who not only are unfruitful
but also hinder the growth of the wheat.
These members perhaps should have been but
were not excommunicated for fear that doing so would adversely affect the faith
of their family members and cause them to stop coming to church. As long as
these members do not “leaven” the entire congregation (1 Cor 5:6-7), they will
be allowed to remain in church to be left for God to judge.
On judgment day the Son of man, the Lord Jesus,
will send His angels to gather out from His kingdom (the church) all those who
offend and practice lawlessness, and cast them into the furnace of fire, where
there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Mt -42).
This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Not
everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the
kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mt ). We need to ask ourselves: Am I a wheat that will be harvested and stored in heaven, or am I
a tare that will be cast into the furnace of fire?
Satan is always
lurking to turn people away from God, and he works extra hard on those who
understand the great commission to save souls. Therefore, since each of us is
given this commission, each of us is also susceptible to Satan’s snare.
From this parable
and a few other parables Jesus taught (i.e. parable of the dragnet, Mt -50; parable of the wedding feast, Mt
22:1-14), we know that few will be saved in this world, which is why Jesus told
us to listen closer.
Therefore, it is
important that we ensure our own salvation while we evangelize to others. In
fact, the more we live out the good Christian life and follow Jesus’ teachings
and do His will, the better our yields (and the fruits we bear) will be—both in
ourselves and in the way we affect our hearers.
Let us not lose our
own place in heaven in an effort to save another. Let us be edifying examples
to believers and nonbelievers alike, and when our Lord Jesus comes again and
hears us saying, “Lord, Lord,” He would let us in.
This is why Jesus, at the end of the parable
of the sower, commanded, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
HAVE THE SPIRIT OF SACRIFICE
“So likewise, whoever of you does
not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It
is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Lk 14:33-35)
These verses teach us that if we want to participate
in the work of spreading the gospel, we must have a spirit of sacrifice,
forsaking all our worldly cares to bear our own cross and follow Him. We must
ask ourselves whether we have this type of spirit to follow Him to the end. If
not, it would be better if we did not try to be His disciples, lest we be
This type of sacrifice is very precious, as
indicated by Jesus in this teaching. The value of salt is determined by its
flavor; it can be used for seasoning and preserving food. For salt to give its
flavor, it must be dissolved (i.e. sacrifice itself). Hence, it best represents
the spirit of sacrifice.
Jesus once said, “Most assuredly, I say to
you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone;
but if it dies, it produces much grain” (Jn ). This teaches us the efficacy of
sacrifice: Jesus, like a grain of wheat, sacrificed Himself for mankind and thereby
brought into being many sons of God (Rom 5:6-11).
Moreover, we must be the salt of the world
(Mt ). We
must sacrifice ourselves to “adjust” the evil “flavor” (or trend) of the world
for the better, exhibiting love and contributing good to mankind just as Jesus
did. Only then can we be considered the salt of the world.
A disciple who does not have this type of
love is like salt that has lost its flavor, which is not fit for use and will
be thrown out (i.e. scorned by men and looked upon as dung). From this
teaching, we realize how difficult it is to be a disciple of the Lord. If we
are unable to sacrifice ourselves and commit to the great commission out of
love for others, we would be no better than nonbelievers.
We must learn how to show love toward others
so that Jesus has not taught us in vain and we are worthy to be called His
disciples. So once again, “He who has ears to
hear, let him hear!”