OK, late last year I surrendered to the ravages of geezerhood and consulted with an audiologist about my hearing. She conducted a test of my claustrophobic tendencies in a tiny sound-proof vault, let me listen to a range of beeps, and prescribed my first set of hearing aids. In a follow up visit a week or so later she made several adjustments and asked if my hearing had improved. Harriet was quick with an answer. She said the hearing aids were totally worthless. They did nothing to remedy my selective hearing. Yuk, yuk!
Of a truth, we humans typically hear what we want to hear. Selective hearing may have peaked in recent years, another hallmark of living in fast, complicated times. Listening may be one of our most overlooked personal disciplines. And, its been on display in bold print lately as we try to comprehend the many mysteries of Covid-19. If you want some comic relief from this information overload, spend some time on social media after a presidential or gubernatorial press conference. Or, following comments by some of the medical community. Even more, as you listen to the main-stream media types editorialize their take on shared data. Getting the facts depends in great part on who we ask. There's also the complication of how we listen. We hear what we want to hear.
Evidently the Twelve were choosy in their listening habits as well. Jesus had clearly explained the reason for their journey to Jerusalem. Peter, James , and John were with him on the Mount of Transfiguration. While they were there a voice from heaven announced, "This is my Son, my chosen One, listen to him" (Luke 9: 35). A while later Jesus spoke to them---"Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men" (Luke 9:44). Earlier Luke had written----
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of
Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Luke 9: 21-22, ESV
They had been cautioned about listening and warned about what was awaiting them in the City of David. Yet, they argued about which of them was the greatest among his followers. Luke again wrote---
An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus,
knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to
them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me
receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.
Luke 9: 46-48, ESV
They must have thought the kingdom of their Messiah would be established when they arrived in Jerusalem. They argued about which one of them would be primary in that Kingdom. Obviously, they had not been listening carefully. They had heard what they wanted to hear and imagined what they wanted to imagine as a result.
Jesus had taught his followers about listening and doing. Luke wrote---
Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what
he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on
the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not
shake it, because it had been well built.
Luke 6: 47-48, ESV
Listening and doing are companion disciplines. How in the world can we do the right thing if we're listening carelessly. Jesus was passionate about going to Jerusalem. He wanted his disciples to hear him accurately so they would obey him correctly. We're in crisis times. Everybody has an opinion. Taking right actions will require us to listen as intently and passionately as Jesus in the journey to Jerusalem.
Speculative hearing won't do.