Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.
Actress Diane Kruger was offered a role that would make her a household name. But it required her to play a young wife and mother experiencing the loss of her husband and child, and she had never personally suffered loss to such a degree. She didn’t know if she could be believable. But she accepted, and in order to prepare, she began attending support meetings for people walking through the valley of extreme grief.
Initially she offered suggestions and thoughts when those in the group shared their stories. She, like most of us, wanted to be helpful. But gradually she stopped talking, and simply started listening. It was only then she began truly learning to walk a mile in their shoes. And her realization came by using her ears.
Jeremiah’s indictment against the people was that they refused to use their “ears” to hear the Lord’s voice. The prophet did not mince words, calling them “foolish and senseless people” (Jeremiah 5:21). God is constantly at work in our lives communicating words of love, instruction, encouragement, and caution. The Father’s desire is that you and I learn and mature, and we have each been given the tools, such as ears, to do so. The question then is, will we use them to hear the heart of our Father?
Father, I believe You are always speaking. Forgive my stubborn tendency to think I have all the answers. Open my ears that I may hear.
Years ago a friend of mine made some decisions that changed the course of his life. He’d been a faithful pastor but became convinced that freedom in Christ meant he could do almost anything he wanted. I warned that such choices would come back to haunt him, but he refused to be held accountable and kept going down that path until he finally had to leave the ministry. He did exactly what Paul cautioned against: using freedom as an opportunity to sin.
The context for freedom in today’s passage is the Old Testament Law. Believers are freed from the demands of the Law—that’s because Jesus Christ fulfilled it by living a perfect life and paying the penalty for sin with His death on the cross. Our salvation is by God’s grace through faith, not by good works.
However, liberty doesn’t cancel out responsibility. For example, people are free to pursue different desires, but if we decide we don’t have to obey the law, we will quickly discover that we’re accountable to the courts for how we use our freedom.
Let’s examine ourselves to be sure an attitude of selfish freedom hasn’t crept into our thinking. A reluctance to be honest, an unwillingness to be held accountable, and a strong desire to have our own way could be indications.
If we trust Jesus with our salvation, we have been freed from slavery to sin, but we’re to use that freedom to obey Christ and serve others through love. Romans 14:7 puts it this way: “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself”—that is, we’re accountable to both God and each other.
“And they all forsook him, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” (Mark 14:50-52)
This “certain young man” is mentioned only in Mark’s gospel and was almost certainly John Mark himself. A rather obscure character in the New Testament, yet the Lord chose him to write what is probably the earliest of the gospel records of the life of Christ. If so, his account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is the first record we have of the most important events in all history.
Mark’s family (Acts 12:12) apparently was prosperous enough to own a home in Jerusalem with a large upper room where the disciples (even 120 of them, Acts 1:14-15) could meet for prayer after the resurrection. This was possibly the same “large upper room furnished and prepared” (Mark 14:15) where the Lord’s last supper took place. Note that Mark’s account says: “And in the evening he cometh [not ‘goeth’] with the twelve” (v. 17). Thus, Mark—probably as a teenager—was very likely an intensely interested observer of all the moving events that took place in the upper room, both before and after the crucifixion and resurrection.
He may well have overheard the conversation with and about Judas, and then watched as the disciples went out to Gethsemane. Perhaps Judas returned with the soldiers, and Mark, already in bed, grabbed a “linen cloth” and rushed out to warn Jesus. The soldiers found Jesus first, however, and Mark had to watch the disciples flee, and then finally had to flee himself.
In any case, this close proximity to these great events made such a profound impression on him that he was later led to write about them, very probably working closely with Peter (1 Peter 5:13), and Mark’s gospel was the result. HMM
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Our trouble is that we are trying to confirm the truth of Christianity by an appeal to external evidence. We are saying… “Here is a great statesman who believes the Bible. Therefore, the Bible must be true.” We quote Daniel Webster, or Roger Bacon. We write books to show that some scientist believed in Christianity: therefore, Christianity must be true. We are all the way out on the wrong track, brother! That is not New Testament Christianity at all. That is a pitiful, whimpering, drooling appeal to the flesh. That never was the testimony of the New Testament, never the way God did things—never! You might satisfy the intellects of men by external evidences, and Christ did, I say, point to external evidence when He was here on the earth. But He said, “I am sending you something better. I am taking Christian apologetics out of the realm of logic and putting it into the realm of life. I am proving My deity, and My proof will not be an appeal to a general or a prime minister. The proof lies in an invisible, unseen but powerful energy that visits the human soul when the gospel is preached—the Holy Ghost!” HTB029-030
Lord, open our ears that we might hear when the Holy Spirit speaks. Amen.
I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong, and of a good courage.—Joshua 1:5, 6.
And all the people answered with one voice, and said, all the words, which the Lord hath said will we do.—Exodus 24:3.
Our Lord teaches us not to shrink from the consequences, which we may see to be involved in any course of duty, which we have undertaken. He leads us to accept the results of any high choice as they open to our mind,—to regard trustfully, in every act of self-dedication, in every resolve we are led to make, whatever possibilities there may be of coming trial, foreseen or unforeseen,—to realize in calmness the future, whatever that future may be. If the calling of God is clear, if the sense of duty become the pillar of cloud by clay and the pillar of fire by night, ever leading onward, the vision of the cross ought not to hinder our going forward. For one who has put his hand to the plough to look back is to become unfit for the Kingdom of Heaven. And equally so it must be to disobey. Joel, if distrust of His upholding us in the course along which He would guide our steps, whatever trial may meet us in the path, becomes a stumbling-block or hindrance to our faith.
T. T. Carter.
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all thing?.” Rom. 8:32
If this is not a promise in form, it is in fact. Indeed, it is more than one promise, it is a conglomerate of promises. It is a mass of rubies, and emeralds, and diamonds, with a nugget of gold for their setting. It is a question which can never be answered so as to cause us any anxiety of heart. What can the Lord deny us after giving us Jesus? If we need all things in Heaven and earth, He will grant them to us: for if there had been a limit anywhere, He would have kept back His own Son.
What do I want today? I have only to ask for it. I may seek earnestly, but not as if I had to use pressure, and extort an unwilling gift from the Lord’s hand; for He will give freely. Of His own will, He gave us His own Son. Certainly no one would have proposed such a gift to Him. No one would have ventured to ask for it. It would have been too presumptuous. He freely gave His Only-begotten; and, O my soul, canst thou not trust thy heavenly Father to give thee anything, to give thee everything? Thy poor prayer would have no force with Omnipotence if force were needed; but His love, like a spring, rises of itself, and overflows for the supply of all thy needs.