Listen to Jesus
Many people say that they are searching for God. But are they really? There is a way to tell. There is a test. That test was written down long ago.
“As it is written in the Scriptures (prophets KJV), ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me'” (John 6:45 NLT).
These words were spoken by Jesus to the crowd that had come from far and near seeking God (Jn. 6:24). Jesus thus verified that those who truly seek God will come to him. That is the test that determines whether or not one’s search for God is real or not. Many, of course, reject such a bold claim, thinking that they sincerely are seeking to know God even though they reject Jesus. But they are deceiving themselves, for “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9 NIV). Who can understand it? the very one who is rejected as the only way to knowing God.
“Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (Jn. 2:24-25 NIV).
On that day when a great crowd had gathered around Jesus, Jesus was aware of the true goal of their search. It was not for God but for what he could give them, and even then it was not for spiritual gifts but ordinary things of life: bread.
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill'” (Jn. 6:26 NIV).
Jesus is the test that determines the truth and sincerity of one’s search for God. The search for God is answered in his Son, Jesus Christ.
“No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 Jn. 2:23 NIV).
Therefore, if anyone claims to be searching for God and yet rejects Jesus, his Son, that claim is false. For Jesus is God (Col. 1:15-16, Jn. 10:30-33) and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:30). This wisdom of God calls out to all who seek God:
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (Is. 30:21 NIV).
Are you seeking God? Those who sincerely seek will hear this voice of God, guiding them to Jesus, to hear his voice. And when they hear Jesus speak to them, that voice will tell them, “This is the way (Jn. 14:6); walk in it.”
This quest to find God is not as difficult as many make it out to be. God wants to be found (Is. 45:19), and he who is Wisdom calls out where all can hear, as Scripture depicts Wisdom as a woman calling out to all who will hear:
“Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge” (Prov. 8:1-9 NIV).
“She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment” (Prov. 9:3-4 NIV).
Thus does the wisdom of God tell the whole world to come to Jesus–“Come in here!”–to those who lack judgment. When this call is answered, the desire for truth in the human spirit seeking God responds to the words of Jesus. That spirit recognizes that here at last is that for which it has been seeking. And the judgment is easy to make, for the spirit resonates to the spirit of the words of Jesus. It senses that these are not the words of only a man but of God. Even those who set out to oppose Jesus sense this.
“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. . . . Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’ ‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards declared” (Jn. 7:32, Jn. 7:45-46 NIV).
But even though the truth of God is thus sensed even by those who oppose him, not all thus acknowledge this encounter with the truth. Not all respond this way to the tug of the Spirit of God in Jesus’ words. Many suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18) and harden their hearts.
“‘You mean he has deceived you also?’ the Pharisees retorted. ‘Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law–there is a curse on them'” (Jn. 7:47-49 NIV).
Right here we see the reason why not only the Pharisees but many in this world reject the words of Jesus: because they do not seek God through the spirit but along a legalistic pathway of the law. And that pathway leads not to God and life but to death (Jn. 6:63, Prov. 14:12).
That passage from Proverbs chapter eight, quoted above, where Wisdom calls out all to hear her words, ends with this dire warning:
“Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death” (Prov. 8:33-36 NIV).
Here is declared the seriousness of this search for God who is Wisdom: Find him–or die. And the way he is found is also plainly stated: “Listen to my instruction and be wise. . . . Blessed is the man who listens to me.
Those who seek to find God can easily feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of their search. How can a mere human being achieve such a monumental thing as to find the infinite God? How can we judge between all the various religions of this world and what they teach? Surely those who sincerely search for knowledge of God can identify with the words of Agur:
“I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man’s understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One” (Prov. 30:3 NIV).
The goal is too high for man to achieve on his own. Finding God? The psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Ps. 139:6 NIV).
But all is not lost. Remember the admonition of Wisdom? “‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment.”
Come in here? Come in where? To Jesus. Listen to him, for he is the Son of God, as God himself has stated:
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Mt. 17:5 NIV).
That God has a son is denied by many of the world’s religions, yet God himself declares it, not only in the New Testament but in the Old.
“Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” (Prov. 30:4 RSV).
Yes, we do know, for God has revealed it to us, just as he has revealed himself to all of humanity in the natural world which he created. That is why the passage from Proverbs above begins with references to the existence of God as revealed in his creation, the world of nature. God does not ordinarily suddenly shout out to a person that he exists and that Jesus is the way to him. First, there is the general revelation to all humanity of God’s existence as revealed in the creation. Observing the world of nature is a common background that prepares for a deeper revelation of God.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20 NIV).
There is no excuse for not believing in the existence of God. Similarly, there is no excuse for not believing in his Son. That is why the Proverbs passage mentions both in the same verse. After referencing the created world, it quickly moves on from this witness of the Father to mentioning his Son, who, it says, ascended to heaven and also came down. The one who has done this is the Son, and his name is Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of man. And “no one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man” (Jn. 3:13 RSV).
Therefore, all who seek God in heaven must seek him who came down from heaven, for upon him God has placed all his authority.
“I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you'” (Ps. 2:7 RSV).
But there is more to coming to know God than simply listening to him. Go back to that original proclamation of Jesus, the Son of God, about himself: “Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me.” Two parts are clearly mentioned: hearing and learning. Having dwelt on the first part, hearing, in some detail, it is now time to look at the second part, learning.
Though it is necessary for laws and rules and principles to be taught to all who would know God, it is very clear from God’s Word that that is not where the heart of the matter resides, with intellectual or even religious teachings. All such words and laws and commandments are meant to be learned not just in one’s mind but to become part of one’s life; they are to be lived out (Rom. 2:13, James 1:22). That is the deeper meaning of learning from the Father which Jesus mentions. It is in this doing of what God says that is the Father’s will. Jesus makes this clear in another statement that closely connects to his statement about listening and coming to him:
“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (Jn. 7:17 NIV).
If anyone chooses to do God’s will. . . . There is always a choice. There is first of all a choice as to whether or not we will listen to the voice of God directing us to Jesus.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Heb. 1:1-2 NIV).
Then, after hearing the voice of God in his Son, there is the choice of whether or not we will follow what that voice says, whether or not we will learn from what the Father has said through his Son (Jn. 14:24, Jn. 12:49-50).
“They are not just idle words for you–they are your life. By them you will live” (Dt. 32:47 NIV).
God speaks no idle words. This matter of God speaking to us through his Son is a matter of Life and death.
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him” (Heb. 2:1-3 NIV).
We must pay careful attention to what Jesus says to all who seek God. First he says that “everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me” (Jn. 6:45 NIV). By this we know that those who claim to be seeking God and do not come to Jesus are fooling themselves. They are not seeking God but something else. For on his Son, “God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (Jn. 6:27 NIV).
Secondly, we can know that that which the Son teaches us is true and from God because we do his will in believing in his Son. And “if anyone chooses to do God’s will (Jn. 6:29), he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (Jn. 7:17 NIV). We who believe in Jesus and have him in our heart and life have found out that his teaching comes from God.
“Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son” (1 Jn. 5:10 NIV).
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:20 NIV).
We who are in Jesus understand reality, how things really are, because the Son of God has given us that understanding (1 Cor. 2:12, 1 Cor. 2:16). The search for God is over. Not because we have finally found God, but because he has found us.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19:10 NIV).
Hearing God speak to us through his Son Jesus Christ is not a one-time event. Our Good Shepherd has promised that those who belong to him will keep on hearing his voice (Jn. 10:3).
Listen to that voice. Read the Scriptures.
“As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion'” (Heb. 3:15 NIV).
“From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire” (Dt. 4:36 NIV).
“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29 NIV).
“The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a man can live even if God speaks with him” (Dt. 5:24 NIV).
Live even if God speaks with us? It is the only way we can live.
“They are not just idle words for you–they are your life. By them you will live” (Dt. 32:47 NIV).
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68 NIV).
Listen to Jesus.