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He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Updated on June 17, 2015

I’ve always wondered what that phrase meant. I understood it in part but God gave me an opportunity to learn more fully what it means. As an outlet for writing, I’ve start publishing on From time to time I would visit the forums. This is a place where other ‘hubbers’ could gather and discuss issues. One such issue was about Christianity. This, of course, drew my attention. Most of the posts there were from people who were decidedly unchristian. The same is true of another post, “Did People Really Evolve from Primates?” In fact, most of these people were downright nasty. One person called the Bible a book of fantasy. That was the least harsh of the comments.

One of the posters I engaged said that he was willing to discuss my point of view logically if I would reason with him with facts. I attempted to do so. His response was most illogical. He did not question my logic or my response. Instead, he proceeded to insult me and my faith. My response to him was that he seemed to have more insults than sense and that he needed to research before he argues. Again, in an attempt to appeal to his rational side, I tried to address some of his comments. Knowing he would come back with another argument, I had decided that I would cease responding to him.

I lay in bed and tried to think of how I would end my correspondence with him. The only thought that came to me was “I don’t know why you don’t believe in the Bible because you are in there.” Then I would quote Romans 1:22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools….” Then the Lord spoke to me. He said you cannot teach someone who will not listen. Then came the verse, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Jesus often said this after He taught something difficult to grasp. The first time was when He told them that John the Baptist was the Elijah that was prophesied (Matthew 11:15). The next time was after the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:9). The third time was after Jesus taught about Hell and Heaven (Matthew 13:43). The final time it is used in the Gospels is when Jesus taught about being salt and the value of worthless salt (Luke 14:35). A similar phrase appears in Revelation where John writes, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

What does this phrase mean? As one who preaches that Jesus always spoke spiritually, I don’t see how I missed the fact that it was not physical ears that Jesus was referring to, but spiritual ears. He who has spiritual ears (understanding), understand. It means let him (or her) who has a teachable spirit receive what is being taught. Let him who is willing to accept it, receive the Word. There are some people who, because they have a closed mind, will not believe some things regardless of the evidence that is produced. Jesus taught us this. This is why He did not spend time arguing with the Pharisees. He knew that no matter what He said or what proof they saw, they would not be convinced. They didn’t believe what they already had and what they already knew. The same was true of the rich man’s brothers. If they would not believe God, why would they believe someone who supposedly rose from the dead? Jesus said to some it was given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and to others it was not (Matthew 13;11, Luke 8:10).

What does it mean to have ears to hear? Jesus again gives us the answer in Matthew 13:

‘ Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

Having ears to hear means that one will understand with their heart, turn and follow God in response.

So what did I learn from this encounter? Proverbs 26:4 says, "Do not answer the foolish arguments of fools or you will become as foolish as they are (NLT)." In other words, we should attempt to rebuke and correct, but when you see your answers falling on deaf ears, cease and move on. They do not have ears to hear so you are just wasting your breath and/or time.


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    • preacherdon profile image

      preacherdon 2 years ago from Arkansas

      Thank you, Lutendo and Benbecky. I appreciate you both reading and responding.

    • profile image

      benbecky 2 years ago

      Wow, what a simple answer! Thank you for not making it overly complicated. I tend to think too deeply on things, and am disciplining myself to knock it off. This was very specific and didn't beat your points to death, I could learn from this, thank you.

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      Lutendo 3 years ago

      This is super cool

    • preacherdon profile image

      preacherdon 3 years ago from Arkansas

      Thank you for your comments. No, a person cannot choose to hear. They can choose to be open to hear and God can then use their openness as an opportunity to grant them an understanding heart.

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      Billy 3 years ago

      Good article. Let me add some of my insight

      The only heart that can “choose” to listen is the heart which has been claimed by God. Jesus said to those who did not believe: “You do not hear what I say because you do not belong to God. He who belongs to God hears what God says.” To those who did not believe He said: “But you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” He said: “my sheep hear my voice, they listen to me and follow me and I give them eternal life.” So then when he says: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It is only the sheep that CAN hear. God is continually opening the ears of the deaf to this very day. When the blind and deaf sheep hear the voice of the shepherd it is because God has “enabled” them, for Jesus said: “NO one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him,” and ALL whom the Father gives to me WILL come to me and NO one can snatch them out of my hand.”

      Many Jews cannot come to Christ to this very day because they are not “enabled.”

      ”God has sent them a spirit of stupor; eyes that they may not see, ears that they may not hear and a mind that cannot understand.” (Romans 11:7) Look at what Moses said to the Israelites after 40 years in the desert: “ But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. (Deut 29:4)

      But there was a “remnant chosen by grace.” Paul says: “What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened.” (Romans 11:7)

      What do the Scriptures say of the Gentiles whom many Christians are going around telling all that “God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives?” Is says: “They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved.” And here is the reason for that...”God has sent them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.”

      So among the Gentiles there is ALSO “a remnant chosen by grace.” These are called “The other sheep who are not of this (Jewish) sheepfold.” And what does Jesus say of those in a most emphatic statement? “They too will listen to my voice.” (John 10:16)

      And why will they listen? Because has given them eyes to see, hears to hear and a mind to understand.”

      To the disciples Jesus said: "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, " `they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' " (Mark 4:11)

      So therefore, a person cannot “choose” to have ears to hear, can he?

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      anon 4 years ago

      good stuff

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      TheKingsdrummer 4 years ago

      Very well said...The Holy Spirit speaks spiritually so we must hear spiritually... and that comes from the heart that chooses to listen..

    • preacherdon profile image

      preacherdon 6 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks, Justjazz. Hope to have more like it.

    • justjazz profile image

      justjazz 6 years ago from delhi

      nice one

    • preacherdon profile image

      preacherdon 6 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks for the reading and comment, BukowskiBabe.

    • BukowskiBabe profile image

      BukowskiBabe 6 years ago from Somewhere in the middle of it all.

      I enjoyed this hub..thank you