We sometimes chuckle as we remember things our mothers said or did as we were growing up. We are less jovial about these things when we catch ourselves saying and doing the very same things with our own children. One of the most common “mom-isms” is the question, “Do you hear me?”. It’s a simple enough question, but what cements it in our memory is the fact that it is often shouted loudly and in heated tones only inches away from a child’s ears. Most of us have had this question addressed to us in this manner, and have addressed it to our own children in the same way. The point of the question is not to check the child’s hearing, but to emphasize the expectation that the child will obey the parent’s orders on that occasion.
Our Lord, of course, was not prone to outbursts of anger, but He used several phrases that made the same point as, “Do you hear me?”. One of these was, “He who has ears, let him hear.” He used this phrase at the end of the parable of the sower (Mt. 13:9), and on several other occasions. He used similar words in each of His letters to the seven churches of Asia in Rev. 2 & 3. The point of this phrase was just what our mothers wanted us to understand. There is an expectation of obedience that accompanies what has just been said.
The Lord emphasized the need for obedience in another way at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. In Mt. 7:24-27 the Lord said that one who heard His words and did them (that is, obeyed) would be like a man who built his house on a rock. His house would withstand everything that life might throw at it. On the other hand, one who heard the Lord’s words and did not do them would be like a man who built his house on the sand. His house would fall when life came crashing down upon it. The benefits of obedience should be evident from this illustration, especially in a spiritual sense.
On another occasion, the Pharisees accused the Lord of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons (Lk. 11:15). In response to this the Lord explained that a house divided against itself will fall. Therefore, He could not be casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul. Instead, He was casting them out by the power of God, thus demonstrating that the kingdom of God had come upon them.
The Lord’s rebuttal was so eloquent and powerful that a woman standing in the crowd exclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed” (Lk. 11:27). To this the Lord replied, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Lk. 11:28). This reply was not a sign of disrespect for His earthly mother, Mary. Rather, it was the kind of corrective statement that the Lord often made when people missed the point of His teachings.
The most important aspect of the Lord’s teaching was, and is, that we are expected not only to hear what He said, but to obey it as well. Many heard the Lord’s teachings as He went from place to place, but few actually obeyed His teaching. Some listened looking only for an opportunity to accuse Him. Others listened out of simple politeness, with no intention of acting on what He said. Those who heard and obeyed what He said were the only ones who would be blessed by God.
This is a fundamental truth that has not changed since God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He expected them to hear and obey, and He still expects us to hear and obey today. If we truly want to go to heaven, we must not only hear the word of God, but we must observe it as well. Nothing else will please Him.