Revelations from the Word

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Hear the Lord our God!

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of all? Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is: Hear [akouo], O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. So the scribe said to Him, Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with your the soul, and with all your strength, and to love one's neighbour as oneself, is more than all the offerings and sacrifices. Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark 12:28-34).

As the Pharisees, Sadducees, the scribes (teachers of the Torah) wanted to trap Jesus in His teaching, He therefore answered them by means of the Word of God, "It is written…". He confirmed in that way that the first commandment, was to listen to God and to love Him. In Hebrew, shama, as in Greek, akouo, the verb to listen means 'to listen attentively with a view to obeying as a disciple would do' (Isaiah 50:4). Now an uncircumcised ear is the source of lack of attention (Jeremiah 6:10), just as an uncircumcised heart is the source of a lack of love (Deuteronomy 30:6). Circumcision of the ears eliminates parasitic voices that prevent listening and circumcision of the heart eliminates the fat that surrounds it and prevents it from beating properly. This kind of circumcision is a work of the Holy Spirit that occurs when we ask Him.

Relationship with God therefore begins with listening to His Spirit, "Today, if you were able to listen to His voice, do not harden your heart…" (Psalm 95:7-8). Listening to God intimately connect us to His love; we cannot listen to Him without loving Him, and we cannot love Him without listening to Him. This is why Jesus said to this teacher of the Torah who loved God, that if he were to circumcise his ears and his heart, he would be in a position to discern the One whom Moses had proclaimed, "The Lord your God will raise up from the midst of you, from among your brothers, a prophet like me: you will listen to [shama] him!" (Deuteronomy 18:15). This is why, the Kingdom of God drew near in the person of Jesus (Mark 12:34).

Although he omitted to speak about listening, the teacher replied that the love of God and of one's neighbour was so superior to the sacrifices that we may offer to God. It is, however, listening which produces obedience, for how can we obey if we do not listen? And to recognise the Messiah in Jesus, we must listen to God, "This is My beloved Son, on whom I have placed all My affection: listen [akouo] to Him!" (Matthew 17:5). For God first of all spoke through Moses by giving the Torah, then by His Son by giving us the Gospels (Hebrews 1:1-2). "Let he who has ears to hear, hear!" (Matthew 13:9).