In the post “Hear God” we looked at Jesus’ instruction to “hear the word of God and obey it.”
“Hear the word of God” is usually understood to mean “read the Bible,” but it might be more correct to comprehend it as meaning “listen to the Holy Spirit.”
Regardless, the concluding part, to “obey,” is the critical aspect.
When it comes to obeying the Bible, we do so selectively. We take some parts literally and some figuratively. We discard some commands as no longer being relevant and we interpret others from the perspective of modern society. We may obey the Bible, but I fear we all obey it in part.
Then there’s obeying the words, the promptings, of the Holy Spirit. This can be even more confusing. Did we hear correctly? What if we only heard part of the message? Did we understand it fully? Do we interpret the words literally or figuratively?
While we may not hear everything, everything we do hear, we should obey.
Once when Jesus was wrapping up a teaching, he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” What exactly does he mean?
In our culture, we often consider “the word of God” to mean the Bible. So the common understanding is we need to read the Bible and obey it. However, the part of the Bible about Jesus (the New Testament) didn’t exist at the time, so he couldn’t have been telling the people to read and obey something that hadn’t yet been written.
But since Jesus is both man and God, he could have used “hear the word of God” as a euphemism to mean “hear me.” While we can’t directly hear Jesus today, we can hear from the Holy Spirit he sent to us.
So maybe Jesus means he wants us to hear the Holy Spirit.
For some people this is easy and for others it’s nonsensical, while for the rest this is feasible but difficult and confusing and infrequent.
Yet, we may need to pursue listening to the Holy Spirit if we are to truly “hear the word of God.”
Doctor Luke writes that Jesus tells the people to listen carefully to what he says. When they do, they will understand — and then even greater understanding will follow.
But there’s a warning, too. Those who don’t really listen will lose whatever understanding they currently have.
Listening to Jesus results in more understanding; not listening results in confusion.
If we are to understand, we need to listen to him — really listen.