When you think about people’s response to the Bible, do you ever wonder why some people get it and some people don’t. How is it that two people can sit through the same message and one comes away edified and the other mystified? One leaves enthused and the other leaves confused. The answer to why some don’t get it is probably simpler than you might imagine.
They don’t get it because:
People hear what they want to hear – Matt 13:9 – after Jesus gave the explanation of the parable of the sower, he spoke more parables. After he taught the parable of the tares and wheat, his disciples said, “Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” They wanted to know what it meant. They got it, but the Pharisees didn’t. Later, when Jesus explained that what goes into your mouth won’t defile you, but rather that which comes out of your mouth [Matt 15:11], the Pharisees were offended, but the disciples said, “Declare unto us this parable.” They wanted to understand it. When the disciples asked Jesus questions, they wanted to know the answers. When the Pharisees asked him questions, they were only trying to trip him up [“entangle him in his talk” Matt 22:15] and catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him [Lk 11:54].
When Paul gave his defense before Festus and Agrippa, Festus heard the words of a mad man, yet Agrippa heard the “words of truth and soberness,” [Acts 26:25] and was almost persuaded to be a Christian. You see, people hear what they want to hear. The disciples always wanted to know what Jesus was teaching… until he told them that he was going to die and that they were going to be offended and scatter from him. They didn’t want to hear that and they denied it vehemently [Matt 26:31-35]. He was right and they were wrong.
When you hear something in the word of God that you don’t want to hear what do you do with it? When you hear that you are wrong, that your religion is wrong, that what you were taught is wrong, that what you thought is wrong, what do you do with that? It depends whether you are willing to hear it.
People see what they want to see – Matt 12:22-24 – the people saw “the son of David.” The Pharisees saw “Beelzebub.” Jesus reasoned with them that Satan wouldn’t cast out Satan [Matt 12:25-28] but they still couldn’t see him. In Jn 9:33 the blind man saw a man of God. In Jn 9:24 the Pharisees saw a sinner. People look at the beautiful things that God has made. Some people see in creation the invisible things of God [Rom 1:20], others just see the creatures [Rom 1:23] and worship and serve the creature more than the Creator [Rom 1:25].
People believe what they want to believe – Jn 5:33-47 they didn’t believe John, they didn’t believe the works, they didn’t believe the Father, they didn’t believe the scriptures, they didn’t believe Moses, and they didn’t believe Jesus’ words. A friend to whom I gave a Bible didn’t believe Gen 1-10, so he quit reading. A young man raised in church believed Dawkins, not Jesus. And so he quit believing the Bible, though he had never read it through. In Jn 9:35-38 the blind man believed Jesus. In Jn 4, the woman at the well believed Jesus was the Messiah. The Pharisees believed he was a deceiver [Matt 27:63]. The women were looking for someone to roll away the stone, the Pharisees were looking for someone to keep it shut [Matt 27:64-66]!!
When you would rather believe a lie than the truth, the Lord will give you a lie to believe, “that they should believe a lie,” [2 Thes 2:11]. Why would they believe a lie? Because they loved not the truth and they believed not the truth [2 Thes 2:10-12].
People do what they want to do – Lk 3:10 – compare Matt 3:7 and Lk 3:7. Jesus didn’t just call the Pharisees and Sadducees a generation of vipers; he called the whole multitude a generation of vipers. In Lk 3:10 the people asked and did what he said. The publicans asked and did what he said [Lk 3:12]. The soldiers asked and did what he said [Lk 3:14]. But from Matt 21:25 you can tell that the Pharisees and Sadducees did not do what he said. The disciples followed him and the Pharisees killed him. That’s because people do what they want to do.
Conclusion: Like the Hymn, the question is “What will you do with Jesus?” Will you hear him? Will you “see” him? Will you believe him? Will you receive him?