ONE of the LIS­TEN­ING CROWD

Activated - - NEWS - By Abi May Abi May is a free­lance writer, ed­u­ca­tor, and health­care ad­vo­cate in Great Bri­tain.

Again [Je­sus] be­gan to teach by the sea. And a great mul­ti­tude was gath­ered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole mul­ti­tude was on the land fac­ing the sea. Then He taught them many things by para­bles.–– Mark 4:1–2

IMAG­INE FOR A MO­MENT that you are one of that mul­ti­tude, and fill in the de­tails.

Did you plan to be there, or did you stum­ble upon this out­door event? Are you with your friends or fam­ily, or are you alone?

Is it sum­mer or win­ter? Are you feel­ing a bit chilly stand­ing so close to the seafront, or are you look­ing for some shade from the burn­ing sun? Are you tak­ing a deep breath of the bracing sea air, or is a gen­tle sea breeze bring­ing re­lief in the heat of the day?

Can you see clearly what’s hap­pen­ing? How close are you to the wa­ter’s edge? Have you found your­self a van­tage point, or is your view ob­scured by the crowd? What kind of boat is He sit­ting in? Is the sea calm, clear as glass, or does it look a bit choppy?

Do you have any trou­ble­some thoughts that maybe you should be some­where else? Are you won­der­ing whether you can spare the time to stand around? Are you think­ing per­haps you should be tak­ing care of some crops, man­ag­ing your an­i­mals, get­ting pro­vi­sions from the mar­ket, vis­it­ing a sick rel­a­tive?

You’ve prob­a­bly heard all kinds of things about this Teacher. Have you heard Him speak be­fore? Do you won­der how much is true? Do you ques­tion whether He really has the power to heal peo­ple by His voice and the touch of His hand? Could He heal you? “Lis­ten,” He be­gins. Can you hear what He’s say­ing? Do you understand what He’s talk­ing about?

His talk is over now. The crowd is dis­pers­ing, and you’re on your way. Per­haps you don’t really feel like chat­ting; you want to be quiet and alone with your thoughts, to try to ab­sorb what He said. What does it have to do with you? Has it changed your out­look?

That day, Je­sus fin­ished His talk by declar­ing, “Who­ever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Those who got

2 the most from what Je­sus said that day were the ones who lis­tened.

Lis­ten­ing is not merely open­ing a Bible, skim­ming over para­graphs and speed­ing through lines. It’s med­i­tat­ing on what we read, ap­ply­ing it, even re­liv­ing it in our imag­i­na­tion. And when we do, we might just dis­cover some­thing new and won­der­ful.

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