Mark 10: 46-52
Dr. Stott has suggested that perhaps the most neglected ingredient in Christian discipleship is the cultivation of hearing, or the listening ear. He says, “Bad listeners do not make good disciples.” The Lord used to say, “He who has ears, let him hear.” He even had a parable about listening, the parable of the sower. Really there is only one person who hears. At the back end of the parable, we meet the good-ground hearer.
If you and I are going to be good disciples, to grow, we will need to make good use of our ears. To a large degree our sanctification depends on how well we hear. Our usefulness and fruitfulness depend on how well we hear. This is the difference between Mary of Bethany, who anoints the Lord’s body, and the other disciples who didn’t have a clue. So, we need to remind ourselves of the duty to listen and cultivate those graces that help us to listen. For example, how attentive are we to the sermon?
When we come to a prayer meeting, we don’t focus on our ears, but on God’s ears. God doesn’t have literal, physical ears. Remember the children’s catechism answer: “God is a spirit and doesn’t have a body like men.” We understand “he hears” to be an anthropomorphic reference. There are over a hundred references in the Bible to God’s ears. The Psalms are full of these. Psalm 5: 1, “Give ear to my words, O Lord.” Psalm 17: 1, “Attend to my cry. Give ear to my prayer.” Psalm 31:2, “Incline Your ear to me.” If you compared your listening habits and skills to God’s, how would you compare. From 1 to 10, what rating would you give yourself? A 3 or 4, maybe? What about God? He gets a 10. He’s a perfect listener. He has the best ears in the world. He never misses a sigh, a groan or a cry. He sees everything and He hears everything.
Jesus displays not only His omniscience here in Mark 10 with blind Bartimaeus, but also His ability to hear. You can imagine the cacophony of noise as they go up to Jerusalem for the Passover. It would have been like sitting in a football stadium with fifty thousand fans cheering. The noise is deafening. In the midst of all this, there is a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, crying out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” You really have to wonder how anyone could hear him amidst the crowd. Remember Jesus is heading towards the cross. If there was ever a time in Jesus’ life when He was so absorbed with what was on His mind and heart that He couldn’t focus on anything else, this is it. We could also ask the question of Bartimaeus, who does he think he is? He’s a blind beggar.
What is so amazing is that Jesus hears his cry. One man’s cry stops Jesus in His tracks; the cry of a beggar. Why would Jesus listen to this beggar? What motivates Him? Compassion. This is what makes Jesus such a keen listener, hearing those who cry to Him in need. His senses were on red alert all the time. Here is a comfort for us. We are beggars – the first Beatitude says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” These are beggarly words. This is a good way to think of ourselves when we come to pray. I am a poor, needy beggar. It is part of our identity. Even more important, giving us encouragement, is that we are His children. From Romans 8, “Abba Father.” We are poor beggars, needy sinners but also His children.