“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (Lk 8.18).
Most of us have seen the 3-D that hides a picture within a picture. To see the embedded image you stand three feet away, close one eye and squint. Some see the hidden picture right away while others of us go mad because they cannot see it. But once you see it, it is impossible to unsee it. The image is hidden in plain sight.
Jesus told parables to hide the truth in plain sight.
“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand'” (Lk 8.10; Is 6.9).
Jesus was the New Isaiah who would sow the seed of God’s word in clear view (Lk 8.4-8, 11-15). He equated sowing with teaching and preaching. He sowed seed of God’s word by telling the truth about God’s kingdom. But not everyone would see the same picture because not everyone would hear the same truth. Therefore, he urges his audience to “take care how you listen” (v17). For Jesus, hearing is seeing.
Jesus illustrated his ministry as putting a lamp on a table (v16). We turn on lamps in the middle of dark rooms. Light, by definition, is to be seen. Likewise, Jesus did not come to play peek-a-boo with the world. He came to put God’s kingdom on display, but in order to see it one had to hear it. He came to reveal the mysteries of God’s kingdom (v10).
Luke masterfully includes the episode where Mary, Jesus’ mother, and his brothers tried to get in a standing-room-only audience with Jesus (vv19-21). Likely the same occasion Mark recorded, Jesus’ family came to rescue him, get him back on his meds and salvage what was left of the family name (Mk 3.21, 31-35). A roadie informed Jesus his mother and brothers were outside wanting to “see” him (v20). In a culture where family was everything, Jesus shocked the world with his response. His mother and brothers were those who “hear the word of God and do it” (v21). They are those of whom Jesus spoke in v15: honest-hearted hearers who bear fruit with perseverance.
Hearing is seeing. Those who carefully listen to Jesus will see the kingdom as surely as light is seen in a dark room. Those who want to see Jesus (like Mary and sons) must become those who hear and obey Jesus (like those already crowded around to hear him). Those who listen, see (2 Cor 4.3-6). And once they see God’s kingdom in Christ by careful listening, they can never unsee him. In fact, Jesus said those who see by hearing will always see more from God (v18). But those who think they have the kingdom but do not see Christ (like the Jewish leaders), God will take away what little sight they have (cf. Lk 19.11-27). And that is precisely what he did. Jesus blinded the leaders who thought they saw God’s kingdom clearly but couldn’t see Messiah. And he gave sight to the blind, those who were exploited by the religious leaders but who hungered for him.
Those who insist on God’s kingdom without submission to Jesus will lose what insight they do have. Those who hunger for Christ will be filled (Lk 6.21).
Jesus could not have been clearer. Seeing him in the hearing his message of the Kingdom requires a sovereign act of God. Knowing the mysteries of God’s kingdom in Christ must be granted. A lost man cannot will himself to hear and obey any more than a blind man can will himself to see. In and through Christ, God put the Truth in plain sight. He sowed the seed in conspicuous places. And yet we still need God’s help to see it.
If we see Christ it is because God has granted us to know his mysteries. It is because God said “Let there be light” in our hearts as surely as he said “Let there be light” at creation (2 Cor 4.6). God must give us new ears so we can have new eyes, which means we have new hearts.
Brother and sister in Christ, consider why are you are a Christian. It is because your loving God granted that you see the Unseeable and know the Unknowable (Eph 3.19). And those who see want to see more. So let us take care how we listen so that we can receive more from God.