The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,* that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.                   
Isaiah 50:4

Jesus is often thought of as the world’s greatest teacher. Multitudes flocked to hear Him, hanging on His every word. Even those who had been dispatched to arrest Him, returned empty-handed, saying, “Never has anyone spoken like this” (John 7:46). Who can forget Jesus’ compelling stories, His vivid metaphors, and His word to the weary! 

But we miss something critical if we miss that the world’s greatest teacher was first the world’s greatest listener. Long before Jesus opened His mouth, He first had opened His ears to listen. Jesus often reminded people about the source of His words: “I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49). 

Here we find the secret of how Jesus always had the right word. Here is how Jesus knew to talk to the woman caught in adultery or a seeker named Nicodemus. Jesus had first listened to the Father. 

Let’s take a moment now to listen to today’s scripture from the prophet Isaiah. Here is a prophecy about the Messiah given 700 years before Jesus came. Isaiah pictures Jesus Messiah as one who listens closely to the Father. He says that it is the Father who gives him “the tongue of a teacher” so that He knows “how to sustain the weary with a word.”

The eternal Son of God humbled Himself and surrendered His infinite knowledge to make Himself one with us. So, just like you and me, Jesus had to “morning by morning” listen to His Father. The Father woke Jesus every morning to hear God’s lessons. Every morning the classroom was opened for Jesus. He never forgot that He was first a listener before He was a teacher. That is why Jesus made it a priority to rise early to listen to the Father: “In the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Before Jesus had anything to say He had to listen. Jesus never stopped listening to His Father and spoke the life-changing words He had heard. 

Here is a vital point in Biblical truth: it is the ear that is the seat of intelligence (See Jacque B. Doukhan, Hebrew for Theologians: A Textbook for the Study of Biblical Hebrew in Relation to Hebrew Thinking). Insight for life is the ability to listen. Wisdom is not something we are born with, nor something intrinsic to us. We must listen for it! It comes from outside us and must be daily learned from God. 

Just as the Father opened Messiah’s ears to listen, so the psalmist says it was God who opened his ears: “You have given me an open ear” (Psalm 40:6). Having the right words to say is not a matter of IQ or smarts, but a matter of first listening to God. Hearing God speak is not just for Messiah, or for psalmists, but for us. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15).

So, each day let’s ask God to open our ears to listen before we ever open our mouths. That’s why God gave us two ears and one mouth!

A fellow traveler,

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