142. "HE THAT HATH EARS TO HEAR,
These words were never used by mortal man. They were heard only
from the lips of Him Who spoke with Divine Authority (Matt. 7:29); and
on earth only on seven distinct occasions, in order to emphasize
and call attention to the utterance He had just made.
This is an important example of the Figure Polyptoton (Ap. 6),
the repetition of the same verb in a different inflection, by which great
emphasis is put upon the injunction here given. See Ap. 6, and notes
on Gen. 2:17 and 26:28.
The seven (Ap. 10) occasions are thus marked out for our special
attention, as being what was said to ears which God had opened.
- The first is in Luke 8:8, at the close of the first giving
of the Parable of the Sower, before the formal calling and mission
of the Twelve Apostles, which took place and is recorded in ch 9:1-6.
This parable was repeated on a later occasion, when it was needed
to complete the setting of the eight parables which are grouped together
in Matt. 13 (see Ap. 145).
In this case it refers to the sowing of the good seed of the Kingdom;
i.e. its proclamation by Jehovah's servants, John the Baptist and the Lord
(as further explained in the Parable of the Marriage Feast in Matt. 22:1-7).
See Ap. 140. II.
- The second occasion is recorded in Matt. 11:15,
the calling and mission of the Twelve, when we are bidden to give earnest
heed to the important mission of John the Baptist, and to understand that
had the people repented at his proclamation he would have been reckoned
as Elijah the prophet (Mal. 4:5), in whose "spirit and power" he was to
come. This was declared before his birth, in Luke 1:17.
When the Lord's disciples asked Him "Why then say the scribes that Elijah
much first come?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "Elijah truly
(Gr. men, i.e. on the one hand) shall first come, and restore all
things. But (Gr. de, i.e. on the other hand) I say unto you,
That Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto
him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall the Son of man also suffer
of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of
John the Baptist." (Matt. 17:10-13). To "understand" this, it required
the opened ear. Hence (Matt. 11:14) the Lord's words, "If ye will
receive (him), this is Elijah who was about to come."
Had the nation repented, the real Elijah would indeed have come and
effected " the restoration of all things, which God had spoken by
the mouth of all His holy prophets from of old" (Acts 3:21). The
nation did not repent; therefore Mal. 4:5 still awaits its literal fulfilment,
and they "who have ears to hear" will understand.
- The third occasion of the utterance of this solemn exhortation
was when the Lord, after the Mission of the Twelve, repeated the
Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:9), which He had spoken by itself before
the Mission of the Twelve (Luke 8:8) but which He then united with seven
others, to make one complete whole, revealing the coming change of dispensation.
In this setting the Lord twice declared "He that hath ears to hear, let
him hear" : once at the end of the Parable of the Sower (See Ap.
- And again (the fourth occasion) in v. 43, at the end
of the interpretation of the Parable of the Tares. Both these parables
required and still require the opened ear in order to understand their
- The fifth occasion is recorded in Mark 4:32, after the application
of the illustration of the Lamp put under a measure, when the utterance
is repeated to emphasize the fact that the Lord was revealing things which
had been hitherto hidden, concerning the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven.
- The sixth occasion is in Mark also (7:16), and here it is
used in another connection, but with the same solemn emphasis, in order
to call attention to the important truth, prefaced by the words preceding
it, "Hearken unto Me everyone of you, and understand : There is nothing
from without a man, that entering into him can defile him : but the
things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 7:14-16).
- The seventh occasion is recorded in Luke 14:35, and is connected
with true discipleship, and counting its cost. Great multitudes were
following Him (v. 25), and publicans and sinners were drawing near
to hear Him. But not all received what they heard. These the
Lord likened unto salt which had lost its savour, which was neither fit
for the land nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. "He that
hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Luke 14:34, 35).
This was the last occasion on earth. For the eight occasions after
His ascension, see Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9.
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