“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”Matthew 11:11-15 NKJV
The New English Translation of Matthew 11:15 reminds us that this is not an invitation to listen so much as it is a warning: “The one who has ears had better listen.” Jesus used variations on this phrase in several places, and I’m thinking that if Jesus says I’d better listen, then I need to listen. How about you?
In this passage, Jesus has been instructing the crowds about John the Baptist and his role in making the way for the Messiah. He points out that they have largely missed the point because of their ignorance of Scripture and their desire to conform God’s messengers to their own human tastes. They saw the Elijah who was to come (Malachi 4:5-6) and didn’t like his self-discipline. They saw the Messiah he predicted and didn’t like his grace. They wanted to play the music and have God’s messenger dance to their tune. ((Matthew 11:7-19)
It’s Sunday. We get to go to church today and hear one of God’s anointed and appointed leaders stand and deliver a message from Him. If you go looking to find fault with the parking lot, the auditorium, the bathrooms, the music, the ushers, or the presentation itself, you will miss God’s message. Stop for a moment this morning and ask God to grace you today with hearing ears. Ask His grace to see past the package and hear the gift. It can make the difference in life and death, health and illness, heaven and hell. We’d all better learn to listen.