Hear and Do: Jesus

Hear and Do: Jesus

Hear and Do: Jesus. 

“The person who knows my commands and keeps them is the one who really loves me. If a person loves me, he will obey my teaching. Anyone who does not truly love me does not keep my word or obey my teaching.” (John 14:21, 23, 24).

Jesus was a doer, and He expected His followers to be doers as well, “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). It’s true, though, that He listened first, to the Father. In the Gospel of John, we find that the Son is limited to doing whatever He sees the Father doing (5:19); the Son will do whatever the Father requires of Him (14:31); the Son has obeyed all the Father’s commands (15:10); everything the Son has heard from the Father has been told to the disciples by the Son (15:15). Jesus constantly had an open ear to the Father, and wouldn’t take a step without the Father’s blessing, without the green light from the Father. So, before Jesus did, He listened. Jesus was a doer, but only after He was a listener.

Nonetheless, Jesus was a man of action, and He asked His followers to be doers, to be people of obedient action. Jesus was dutifully following the ancient Jewish tradition of hearing and doing. When the Israelites said “I do” at the wedding ceremony on Mt. Sinai, what did they say? We will hear and we will do! (Exodus 19:8 and 24:3, 7) What is the first Hebrew word of the most essential prayer in the Hebrew Bible (the OT) Shema! Hear and do, listen and obey! (Deut. 6:4) And what was a big reason the Israelites were judged according to the Lord’s words to Ezekiel? They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it! They listen to your words, but they don’t practice them! (Ezek. 33:32). And don’t forget the constant prophetic refrain of doing justice, doing righteousness, and doing every kind of good imaginable (refer to Hear and Do: Introduction).

Three defining moments of Jesus life will highlight the importance of hearing and doing in the life of a believer: the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount (Matt 7:21-27) and the Plain (Luke 6:46-49); the Lord’s words before the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:325-28); and His foot-washing of the disciples (John 13:14-17).

(1) “What good does it do for you to say I am your Lord and Master if what I teach you is not put into practice? Let me describe the one who truly follows me and does what I say. He is like a man who chooses the right place to build a house and then lays a deep and secure foundation. When the storms and floods rage against that house, it continues to stand strong and unshaken through the tempest, for it has been wisely built on the right foundation. But the one who has heard my teaching and does not obey it is like a man who builds a house without laying any foundation whatsoever. When the storms and floods rage against that house, it will immediately collapse and become a total loss.” (Luke 6:46-40).

THE BUILDERS. The prudent, sensible, practical, wise builder had the good sense to dig below the surface of the ground until he found the rock. He then built his house on the rock foundation. The Holy Land has rock everywhere. Some rock is just below the surface, and other rock may be ten feet down. Everybody knows that the builder doesn’t stop digging until you hit the rock. The stupid, lazy, foolish, impractical builder didn’t bother digging at all. He just built his house on the sand or clay at the surface of the ground.

BUILDING THE HOUSE. Since everything was built by hand, including the digging and the construction, housebuilding was only accomplished by rigorous work, strenuous effort. Building a home was very difficult, and even dangerous. Much building was done in the summer, although the hardened ground was like iron to dig. Home builders wanted to get the job done before the winter rains. If the foundation was not on a rock foundation, then the rain would soften the ground, the walls would weaken, and the house would collapse. Only an extremely foolish person would build right on the ground with no rock foundation.

OTHER THOUGHTS. a. Jesus says some scary words to start the parable. Some will be lost, even though they say all the right words. Even if they address God, even if they say, “Lord, Lord.” This parable is fair warning to all of us, that religious God-talk isn’t evidence of salvation. We need to hear the truth at the heart level, but we also need to practice the truth in our daily lives, with God’s strength and enablement. If we only pay lip service to God, then we aren’t truly building our lives on the Precious Cornerstone, and we’re only kidding ourselves. We don’t know Him, and He doesn’t know us.

b. Both houses were hit by storms. Both experienced challenges and difficulties. Following Jesus doesn’t mean we are magically protected from life’s storms. One home was unshakeable, the other wasn’t. Build your life on the true Rock, the spiritual Foundation, and you will be left standing strong.

c. There’s a reason this parable was spoken by Jesus at a crucial time in his teaching, after His big sermons in Matthew (on the Mount) and in Luke (on the Plain). It’s a summing up of what He wants the audience to take away after all those words in those sermons. Hear and do. Listen and practice. Believe and obey. Build on the Living Stone.

(2.) “Just then a religious scholar stood before Jesus in order to test His doctrines. He posed this question: ‘Teacher, rabbi, what requirement must I fulfill if I want to live forever in heaven?’ Jesus replied, What does Moses teach us? What do you read in the Law?’ The religious scholar answered, ‘It states, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus said, ‘That is correct. Now go and do exactly that and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28).

THE CONTEXT. A lawyer comes to Jesus to put him to the test. A lawyer at that time was an expert on Jewish law, a scholar of the Jewish religion. The lawyer asks a theological question, to spur debate, a religious conversation. The lawyer wanted to see not only how orthodox Jesus was in his beliefs, but also to tempt Jesus into giving a controversial answer to a difficult question.

THE LAWYER. a. The scholar “stood up” to address Jesus, much like a student of that time always stood up when talking with a teacher, out of humility and respect. He then referred directly to Jesus as Teacher, or Rabbi. Jesus had evidently earned the lawyer’s respect through his words and actions. Jesus took the question seriously.

b. The lawyer asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. He was a pious man who wanted to earn his way to life everlasting, mostly through his actions.

JESUS. He responded by asking a question of the lawyer. Jesus referred him to Scripture and asked him if he could find his answer there. Jesus didn’t want to merely state the answer to the question. Jesus instead helped the lawyer to find the answer for himself. He did what good teachers do: Help the student to think for himself, to become an active learner.

THE LAWYER. a. He gave the best answer possible, the Shema, found in Deuteronomy 6:4. The Shema is the 1st prayer taught to children in a Jewish household, and it is prayed twice daily by every believing Jew, every sunrise and every sunset. Love your God, with everything you got, heart, soul, strength, mind, everything.

b. The lawyer then adds Leviticus 19:18 to the Shema, something that Jesus himself said many times. Love your neighbor as yourself.

JESUS. He praises his lawyer and says, “That’s it! Good job! Now go and do what the scripture says.” In other words, Jesus is saying that it is not enough to simply believe the right words, to include those words as a part of the law. You must also demonstrate through action that those words are true in your life. His literal response to the lawyer reads, “Do this, and you will come alive,” or “Do this, and you are living.” In other words, eternal life starts now.

(3.) “After washing their feet, He put His robe on and returned to His place at the table. ‘Do you understand what I just did?’ Jesus said, ‘You’ve called me your Teacher and your Lord, and you’re right, for that’s who I am. So if I’m your Teacher and Lord and have just washed your dirty feet, then you should follow this example that I’ve set for you and wash one another’s dirty feet. Now do for each other what I have just done for you. I speak to you timeless truth: a servant is not superior to his master, and an apostle is never greater that the one who sent him. So now put into practice what I have done for you, and you will experience a life of happiness enriched with untold blessings!” (John 13:12-17).

FOOT-WASHING. A simple act of hospitality; a house servant task, involving placing someone else’s dirty, smelly feet into a bowl of water and carefully cleansing those feet of all dirt, grime and sweat, then drying the feet with a clean towel; a common, menial act of service and humility; exercising the ministry of touch to the untouchable; the powerful sacrament of servanthood.

JESUS. We are in the Upper Room on Thursday night at the Last Supper. The Passion is starting in earnest. Jesus is just beginning to wash the dirty feet of each one of his disciples, including Judas. This was certainly the work of the lowliest house servant, not the Master, Messiah and King. No one else offered to do this simple, dirty act of hospitality, so Jesus stepped right in. He took off his robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, filled a bowl with water, and proceeded to wash everyone’s feet. This was undoubtedly very startling and confusing to the disciples. They have just enjoyed three years of miracles and spell-binding teachings. Certainly this was beneath Him! The Lord acting as a slave? No way. But Jesus, being the Eternal Teacher, wanted to provide a demonstration, an example of what He wanted His disciples to do after He has left this world. He wanted to perform this act to demonstrate the spirit in which to do their ministry in His name. He wants His followers to develop a heart-felt humility, a willingness to serve each other, and to serve mankind. He is saying, If I can be this humble, so can you. If I can put humility into practice like this, so can you. Jesus fleshes out this powerful visual aid so that His disciples realize there should be nothing beneath them, nothing too menial or dirty or basic. Christians are often called to do things in serving people that others are unwilling to do. This foot-washing was a sacred moment, a sacrament. Instead of a consuming fire or a burning angel, we have a bowl of water and a clean towel. It seems only right and fitting that everyone had to take off their sandals, since this was holy ground.

Jesus’ first miracle in His public ministry was at the wedding of Cana in John 2. Mary His mother was there as well, along with many of His disciples. Mother Mary deserves to have the last word in this Hear and Do dedicated to Jesus. Mary of course has no doubts whatsoever that Her Son is the Messiah, the Son of God. No one knows better than she the miraculous conception, the virgin birth, the song of the angels, the shepherds, the Magi, and the prophecies of Simeon and Anna and Elizabeth. When Mary sees the wine has run out at the wedding festivities, she turned to Jesus to fix the problem. She knew He could do a miracle, and she encouraged Him to do just that. After some initial reluctance by Jesus, Mary said these words that have stood the test of time and shows the biblical pattern for discipleship. Mary turned to the servants and said, “Whatever He says, no matter what He tells you, make sure that you do it!” (John 2:5). And we need to take Mary’s words to heart. As servants of Christ, we should intend to do whatever He says. Listen and do. Hear and obey. Listen and put into practice.