NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Jon Kim, a staff at Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, who oversees its college group. A graduate of New York University (BS), he is currently pursuing a M.Div. degree at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“Hearing Without Listening”
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” 34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
My wife and I moved a couple of weeks ago to a new home. While unpacking on Monday she very clearly told me, “Jon, this is where I am putting the stamps.” I nodded in acknowledgement and went on with my day. Come Wednesday, I needed the stamps to send an urgent piece of mail but threw a fit due to my wife’s hiding the stamps somewhere. I mutter to myself, “If only she would’ve told me where she put them beforehand!” I heard my wife’s instruction on Monday, but I didn’t truly listen and understand because it was not important to me until Wednesday.
In our passage today, we see Jesus foretelling His suffering and death for the third time in Luke’s Gospel. Even though Jesus had already told His disciples before, they still did not understand that to save the world, He would suffer and die. As a reader looking back on these stories, I am troubled by how the disciples just couldn’t get it! Especially in this passage, Christ’s language is pretty clear and straightforward: No imagery, no parables, just straight and literal foretelling of his suffering and death. As Christ’s disciples were living with the Messiah, and soaking in His teaching everyday, wouldn’t their hearts be eager and open to receive and understand these words? In addition, Jesus wasn’t even the first one to tell them about His death; the prophets’ message was consistent with Jesus’.
The message of Jesus’ suffering and death didn’t fit into what the disciples had in mind about the glorious Messiah who had come to save. Jesus gave them an important word, but it did not align with their agenda and expectations; the word essentially fell on deaf ears. Don’t we also do this often? We hear God’s Word, but we do not contemplate the Words that do not feel really relevant for us on Monday. Then we are left on Wednesday scrambling to catch up because His words on Monday didn’t really become a part of who we are, how we think, and how we act. For example, God has been speaking about injustice and race for thousands of years. Are we only now seeking to listen to His heart about these matters, perhaps because the world has put them at the forefront of our minds? What else is God speaking to you that seems irrelevant and unimportant? Will you brush them aside or will you contemplate, seek to understand and ask to be changed according to His Word?
The good news for me on Wednesday was that my wife still graciously told me where the stamps were stored. God will patiently teach us when He finally has your listening ear, when you finally realize the importance of every word that comes from His mouth. However, for the sake of a healthy marriage, and my own personal sanity, I should have listened on Monday.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I confess that many times You speak, but I do not listen. I often listen for the things that seem most relevant to me or are easiest to understand. I pray that You would help me to listen and contemplate the whole counsel of Your Word. I do not want to worship a God that only fits within my mind and my agendas, but I want to listen to and be changed by all that You say because Your Word is good and it is true. Amen
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 65
Lunch Break Study
Read John 10:1-15: “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Questions to Consider
- How does Jesus contrast His sheep’s response to the shepherd/gatekeeper with their response to the stranger/thief/robber?
- What are the different outcomes of following the thieves and robbers versus following Jesus?
- How do the “hired hand” and the shepherd react differently to danger? What does this show about their different relationships to the sheep?
- What other voices do you listen to and follow that are not the voice of your Good Shepherd?
- The sheep know the voice of the shepherd and follow Him to safety. They do not recognize the voices of others and therefore run away from them.
- The sheep that follow Jesus are led to peace, security, salvation and eternal life. Others come to steal, kill, and destroy.
- The “hired hand” will run away to save his own life because he doesn’t care about the sheep. The good shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep because he knows them and they know him and he loves them.
- Personal reflection.
In reflection of this morning’s QT, disciples hear what they want to hear, and when they don’t hear what they want to hear, they hear nothing at all. Just babble. Stuff that doesn’t make sense. Nonsense. That’s why Jesus repeatedly said, “The one who has ears to hear, let them hear.” It takes more than ears to really hear.
Learning the ways of faith in God is hard work that requires our devotion to understand and apply Truth. The Good News is God never gives up on getting Truth to us.
It took courage for Jesus to go to Jerusalem, knowing that it wasn’t just a possibility that he would die but that it was a certainty. And it takes courage for us to hear what he says and do what he says.
It takes courage to be a follower of Jesus. And really good hearing.
Are you sometimes tempted to give up the quest for more of God, because you feel uncertain in your thinking when reading the Word?