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Hearing vs. Listening

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. - John 6:35 NIV

There is hearing, and then there is listening. I am sure we’ve all experienced that moment when we are distracted and have tuned out to what the other person is saying. We hear them, our ears continue to take in the audio signals, and our brain acknowledges they are talking. However, when we listen to them, we place the words into context and understanding.

In today’s scripture, a crowd comes seeking Jesus the day after he fed the 5,000 with the loaves and fishes. True, it was a miracle, but the people were entirely missing the point — it wasn’t merely to provide them with physical food; it was to establish Jesus as the son of God. When asked, Jesus makes several attempts to explain this, but they weren’t listening; they were simply hearing. Moreover, their hearts weren’t willing to accept. In the end, many decided the teaching was too hard, and they went away angry and sad.

We can look back on this story and see how foolish these followers were to turn away. But are we any different today? When Jesus talks to us, do we hear without listening? We take the information in but fail to understand the message or ignore it because we don’t like what it says? Perhaps worse, sometimes we may make knee-jerk reactions to what we hear, reactions we later regret, instead of intentionally discerning the message.

God, we are thankful for your son Jesus who offered us more than physical food but sustenance for our spirit. Amid all the information and background noise we hear today, help us to listen for you. May we be quick to listen and purposeful in our discernment. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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