A grandmother recently shared this story to illustrate the hearing and understanding problem.
Our five year old grandson couldn't wait to tell his grandfather about the movie we had watched on television, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." The scenes with the submarine and the giant octopus had kept him wide eyed. In the middle of the telling, my husband interrupted him and asks, "What caused the submarine to sink?"
With a look of disbelief, he replied, "Grandpa, it was the 20,000 leaks!"
An occasion in Jesus' ministry came to mind where he had to deal with this kind of problem. Immediately after he had performed the miracle of feeding the multitude with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish, we find this event:
So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake. But the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any food, so there was only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod." They decided he was saying this because they hadn't brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, "Why are you so worried about having no food? Won't you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 'You have eyes — can't you see? You have ears — can't you hear?' Don't you remember anything at all? (Mark 8:13-18 NLT Ed. 1).
"Won't you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 'You have eyes — can't you see? You have ears — can't you hear?' Don't you remember anything at all?"
I wonder how often those words would apply to you and me. It's not really that we don't hear the words. It's either that the words just don't register with us or we just don't really pay attention.
The word translated as "hard" could literally be translated as "turned to stone" or "petrified." That was harsh language wasn't it? We wouldn't very well like to be talked to in that way. Your preacher might even get fired if he tried it! Yet in all honesty, Jesus could be speaking those words to us many times, couldn't he? How many times do we fail or refuse to listen to the instructions of God even in the smallest of things?
He said, "What do you mean, you can copy it, can't you"?
I replied, "No, I can't!"
He said, "But your computer can do it; I've don't it on my own computer at home."
I replied, "It's not that I can't physically, but that I won't because it is wrong."
He left with a confused look on his face. He really didn't get it. He heard the words, but they meant nothing to him. How many times has that happened to us in some area of our lives?
Could it be that we all, on occasion, have hearing problems, or at least understanding problems?