False Witnesses

So far as I know, anything worth hearing is not usually uttered at seven o’clock in the morning; and if it is, it will generally be repeated at a more reasonable hour for a larger and more wakeful audience. ~Moss Hart

My Kindergartners were excited to share in 100’s Day. The hundredth day of school was fast approaching and they were to present projects of 100 items.

The local media found out and sent a camera crew for the nightly news. The other Kindergarten teacher was interviewed. I listened to her explain what was happening at the school.

Later, on the evening news, the footage had been clipped to say what they wanted everyone to hear.

It wasn’t a big change, but the next day at school, the other teacher was upset. “That wasn’t what I said!”

We hear what we want to hear or what others want us to hear.

The members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen were arguing with one of the disciples. But every time they countered a point, Stephen made a counter-point. Finally, they persuaded some false witnesses to stir up the rest of Jerusalem, spreading lies about Stephen.

The Jews would hear what they wanted to hear, but let’s start first with what they wanted to hear.

You’ve known it to happen.

You tell your child that you can discuss a pet later, and he swears you said,

“You can have a pet later.”

The doctor says you’re very healthy for a woman your age, but you need to lose 20 pounds. You tell your husband the doctor said,

“Everything is great; I’m very healthy.”

Your boss says there will be a short meeting before lunch, maybe 15-30 minutes, and you make an order-

“Yes, I need to pick up a pizza at 12:05.”

Or is it even bigger than that?

Spirit tells you to talk to that homeless man and you think he said,

“Give some money to the shelter.”

Jesus says love your neighbor as yourself and you think he said,

“Love yourself.”

God said worship me only, and you think he said,

“Worship me first.”

Two thousand years later, and our hearing hasn’t changed much.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22 ESV

Deaf or Just Hard-of-Hearing

None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.
~Matthew Henry

I just spent a few days with some family members who are on the other side of the green field. You have to make sure they are looking at you when you speak . . . loudly. Otherwise, you won’t be heard.

I’ve been very public about my own hearing issues. Perhaps I’m not so far away from that side of the field myself.

Jesus encountered some hard-of-hearing people, too.

In Luke 14:35, Jesus says, “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Then in 15:1, we find out who has the ears to hear.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathered around to hear him.”

By now Jesus has a large following. His name is out there. He’s twittered, posted, and chatted for years and his platform is huge. 5,000 men show up for his luncheon. Women and children flock to meet him and call him blessed.

So why is it that the ones listening aren’t the leaders of the community? Why don’t they have ears to hear?

Because Jesus says some hard things.

He says that everyone is invited into the kingdom. Every sheep is brought safely into the fold. Every brother is loved, every sinner forgiven, every child wanted.

He treats everyone the same.

She sits alone at the church potluck, surrounded by groups of laughing people who have more in common with each other than with her.

He stands alone at the conference, his body contorted with spasms but his mind free and frisky.

She sits, eyes lowered, with her ratty-tattered children waiting for your hand-out.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2 NIV

Are you listening to Jesus or are you muttering about the welfare check, the useless riff-raff, the immigrant?

Jesus tells his listeners three stories of lost things being found.

‘But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:32 NIV

Can you hear him? Do you have ears to hear?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 NIV