Listen and Hear

Bible Focus: John 3:1-21

Jesus answered, "Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
John 3:5-8 CSB

About five years ago, a high school student in Georgia was using to complete a spelling assignment for one of her classes. As she listened to her assigned words, she heard one that sounded like yanny. She couldn’t remember learning any such word. Puzzled, she turned to her friend, asked for help, and played the recording. Her friend heard an entirely different word: laurel.

The student quickly figured out that people heard one of these two words when listening to the recording. Intrigued, she decided to post the recording on Instagram. That’s how a little sound file created to demonstrate the pronunciation of laurel sparked a huge debate among people all over the world. “What do you hear?” people asked each other. “Yanny or Laurel?”

Personally, I’ve heard it both ways. In the span of just a few minutes, while playing the file on the same equipment at the same volume, I’ve heard both yanny and laurel. The experience reminded me that my brain interprets what I hear, and that I don’t always receive the message that was intended. I might think a message is obvious, but I could be missing the real point entirely.

People receive the good news of Jesus Christ in a similar way. Many who listen to the good news don’t hear the news as good. Instead, they find it strange, or narrow-minded, or oppressive. Some react so negatively that they avoid Christians and resist any Christian influence in their life.

However, once we truly hear the good news, we will always hear that news as good. As the truth of God’s love dawns on us, God will ignite a transformation in our soul that we can’t reverse.

Once we truly hear the good news, we will always hear that news as good.

After Jesus was baptized, he preached and gathered disciples, similar to what John the Baptist had done. Jesus also began performing miracles, such as healing people and turning water into wine. News about Jesus spread quickly, and the Jewish religious leaders quickly became suspicious of him.

Nicodemus was a Jewish religious leader, but he was impressed with Jesus. He decided to meet with Jesus privately and hear what Jesus had to say. One night, Nicodemus visited Jesus, and Jesus started telling him about the good news. But when Nicodemus became confused about what Jesus was saying, Jesus warned him not to turn away in disbelief.

"Are you a teacher of Israel and don't know these things?" Jesus replied. "Truly I tell you, we speak what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you do not accept our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you don't believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?"
John 3:10-12 CSB

Fortunately, Nicodemus didn’t reply by shutting Jesus down or walking away. So Jesus gave him one more explanation. He reminded Nicodemus of a story from Israel’s history: those bitten by poisonous snakes were once healed by simply looking at a bronze snake that God commanded Moses to set up. Jesus applied that story to himself, using words that have resonated with countless believers for thousands of years.

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God."
John 3:14-18 CSB

Here’s the good news–and the bad news: Jesus is the only Savior that God has sent. If we trust in Jesus, we are saved and we have eternal life. If we reject Jesus, we are lost and remain under God’s wrath. If we absolutely refuse to listen to Jesus, then we will remain lost forever. But if we keep listening to Jesus and believe the good news, then we will enter his kingdom forever.

Featured image from Julien de Salaberry on Unsplash.

If you like this post, I hope you’ll check out my book. It’s available at Amazon and other booksellers.

This post is #55 in the Truly Good Book series. Sign up here for future posts.

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