Hear Him

“They did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him”

Mark 9:32

Peter, James and John had been on the mountain with Jesus when Elijah and Moses appeared to them but it seems they missed the most important aspect of that meeting. The conversation with Moses and Elijah concerned Jesus’ coming death and resurrection (Luke 9:31). As important a component as that was, it was not the most critical.

Not for the first or last time in the Gospels Jesus’ disciples are exhorted to “Hear Him.” Also, at the end of each letter to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 we read, “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Good teachers are a blessing but Jesus is looking for, and the church needs, good hearers. This is the essence of being a disciple: one who is teachable and hears to the point of doing what Jesus says.

The reason the disciples were confused when Jesus spoke of His betrayal, death and resurrection (v 31) was that they did not take note of the Father when He said to them, “Hear Him.” That is, take on board the words of Jesus as factual and to be applied in the normal literal sense. Unfortunately they did what so many people do. Because the words of Jesus don’t fit our theology we either dismiss them as irrelevant or try to manipulate them to fit our own ideology. Jesus spoke plainly so they could understand what was to come.

When Jesus was betrayed, His disciples fled. Because he didn’t believe what Jesus had said, Peter, out of his confusion and ignorance, put on a brave front with a sword – but he was acting contrary to the will of God.

The Second Coming of Jesus is well documented in Jesus’ teaching, in the writings of the prophets, and in the New Testament. Although there is much recorded concerning His Second Coming, there is confusion among Christians. This confusion exists for the same reason it existed among the disciples when Jesus was betrayed and taken to be crucified. Many people will not take Jesus and other biblical writers at face value. If some part of the Bible doesn’t fit their theology they either dismiss that part, interpret it to fit their own ideology, or remain confused. One can only wonder how different the disciples’ actions might have been had they obeyed the Father’s command, “Hear Him.” How different our peace and joy would be if we took Jesus at His word.

Chief of Sinners

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief”

1 Timothy 1:15

In charging Timothy with the responsibility to keep others faithful to the true Gospel against those who were infiltrating with error, Paul relates how the grace of God was and is being enacted toward him. He obtained mercy because he did it “ignorantly in unbelief” (v 13) but the grace of God was “exceedingly abundant” in delivering him from that ignorance and unbelief (v 14). He then professes the essential teaching that Jesus came to save sinners. What we may skip over is what he then writes, “of whom I am chief.”

A casual reading may interpret this as saying he was the chief of sinners before he was delivered by the grace of God. That would be a misunderstanding. He is acknowledging that he knows he is still currently the chief of sinners. We will have a shallow understanding of God’s active grace toward us if we don’t know that we are still chief sinners. We may believe theologically that we are but until we know it in our hearts we will have a diminished view of God’s grace.

Paul writes something similar in Romans 3:23. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The grammar in this verse reveals that we (saved sinners) keep on falling short. The self-righteous doesn’t know this and thereby reveals he has only a shallow understanding of God’s grace.

We are not told what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) and perhaps we should be glad of that or we might think there is only one kind of “thorn”. Had he told us we might be taken up with that one instead of the real point of the passage: “My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you” (v 9). Though we know we continually fall short and we know we are the chief of sinners we can also know that God’s exceeding abundant grace is sufficient.

Satan may attempt to use that to discourage us but God wants us to advance in our knowledge, understanding and experience of His exceeding abundant grace. Paul goes on to write “for My [God’s] strength is made perfect in weakness” and “For when I am weak I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Jesus said, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Without God’s active grace through Christ Jesus we cannot minister to others or serve and worship God.

Wisdom Needs Help

“Therefore give to your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.”  1 Kings 3:9

There is a huge mistake in thinking that wisdom can overcome ignorance or lack of deliberate obedience to God’s Word. Solomon asked the Lord for “an understanding heart” to “discern between good and evil.” God granted his request because he asked it for the benefit of God’s people and not for himself. Solomon became and remains famous for the wisdom he espoused. Much of that wisdom is recorded in the Bible for us to read.

As we read through the life of King Solomon we cannot help but notice that wisdom of itself could not protect him or the people from corruption and destruction. We look up to the wisdom of Solomon and yet his kingdom was split as a result of his failing in obedience to the Lord. Everything that made the kingdom great was lost.

Wisdom without obedience to the will and word of God will always lead to destruction. For all his wisdom Solomon was not obedient to the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God gives five instructions for any king of Israel:

  1. He shall not enlarge military resources by number or alliances (v 16)
  2. He shall not have multiple wives (v 17)
  3. He shall not accrue personal wealth (v 17)
  4. He shall write his own personal copy of the Law (the first five books of our Bible) (v 18)
  5. He shall read it, meditate on it and study it every day and live in accordance with it (v 19)

Since we know from the Bible that Solomon did not observe the first three of these we can assume he did not keep the other two either. Yes, he had wisdom but it could not be applied in the vacuum of ignorance or out of a rebellious heart.

We must not allow ourselves to be content to live as Solomon did. Claiming to be wise in discerning the will of the Lord it may be that we are ignorant of what the lord has said. There is no suggestion that we should write out the whole Bible but there are multitudes of admonitions in the Bible that encourage us to read it, meditate on it and study it. Of course the one who does not read it won’t know this.

Solomon had one of the best possible heritages but it was wasted because he did not obey the Lord. He did not obey the Lord because he did not know or believe, to the point of obedience, the command of the Lord.

May it never be that your name could be written in place of the name “Solomon” in the preceding paragraph.