Today’s Bible readings can be found here: Genesis 32:1-12 and Mark 4:1-20.

Mark 4:9 “Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (NIV)

As a child, I often got into trouble for doing the wrong things, despite being pre-warned by my parents. I can still hear them saying to me, “This would never have happened if you had listened in the first place.” As a teenager, I promised to follow their instructions, but I still ended up making foolish choices which put me in reckless situations that I was lucky to survive. And then as a young man, instead of heeding the words of my family and friends, I almost destroyed my life completely through alcohol. In all of those circumstances, I just didn’t listen to the advice I was given. I wanted to make my own decisions and only ended up learning things the hard way.

In today’s Gospel passage (Mark 4:1-20) where Jesus tells and explains the parable of the sower, I can hear some of His frustration with His own people. He has come among them to bring the good news of their salvation through the gracious Word of God. He is attempting to tell them, by means of this parable, about the consequences of listening to and applying God’s Word. Some of them get it and bear a fruitful faith, but most of them either discard His words or take them for granted and end up being fruitless. He is giving them the opportunity of a lifetime to get reconnected to God, but they just don’t listen and become separated from God forever.

Christ’s words still challenge us across the centuries and His parable is highly relevant in today’s world. Sadly, some folks who consider themselves to be Christians are taking Jesus for granted and tossing away their opportunity of being saved. Instead of listening to His words, they make up their own beliefs and end up falling away. What little faith they have is fruitless, so whatever life they make for themselves is eternally pointless. They are choked with the cares of the world instead of cherishing the Word of God. In the end, they leave Jesus no choice but to say, “If only they had listened.”

Point to ponder:

Is my faith fruitful or empty? Am I hearing what Christ has to say or just listening to my own voice?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, speak to our spirits and guide us to Your godliness. Open our ears to hear Your word and let our hearts embrace Your teaching so that we may bear a fruitful faith. Keep us from taking You for granted and remind us of our dependence on You alone to restore us to God. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s latest Good Friday drawings called ‘Powerless.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.