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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 described as the world’s greatest teacher. Multitudes flocked to hang on His every word. Even those sent to arrest Him reported back, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” (John 7:46). But we miss something obvious if we think of Jesus as just the world’s greatest teacher. Jesus was first the world’s greatest listener. Before Jesus opened His mouth, He first opened His ears. Jesus often reminded people from where His words and stories came: from listening to the Father, “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). 

Jesus was an avid listener to His Father. This is how Jesus always had just the right word, whether for a woman caught in adultery, a grieving Mary, a stumbling Peter, or a curious Nicodemus. Jesus had first devoted time to listen to His Abba. 

Let’s take a moment to look at today’s scripture and to listen. Here is a Messianic prophecy was given 700 years before Jesus’ coming. In this text, Isaiah tells of Jesus Messiah as a listener. “Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.” As Jesus listens, the Father gives to Him “the tongue of a teacher” so that He “may know how to sustain the weary with a word.”

This is why Jesus made time in the morning a priority for listening 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 something to say, He had first listened. 

Jesus as a good listener underscores an important truth: in the Bible, the ear 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). The Bible does not regard intelligence as something we are born with. We must listen for it as it comes from beyond. Maybe that’s why God gave us two ears but one mouth! 

Just as the Father opens Messiah’s ears to listen, so the psalmist says God has opened his ears: “You have given me an open ear” (Psalm 40:6). Take a look at your Bible’s margin reading or a study Bible, and you will see that the Hebrew phrase is literally, “ears you have dug for me.” The psalmist pictures God “swinging a pickax, digging ears in our granite blockheads so that we can hear, really hear, what he speaks to us” (Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading). 

I am one granite blockhead wanting open ears. That will mean taking time to read, meditate, and pray Scripture, as well as time for tuning out the world’s noise and media so that I can be still and listen. 

“When man listens, God speaks…We are not out to tell God. We are out to let God tell us…The lesson the world most needs is the art of listening to God.” (Frank Buchman, Remaking the World)

As did the little boy Samuel, we do well to pray “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). I’m all ears!

A Fellow Traveler,

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