Updated: Feb 9
Jesus had been speaking some very powerful things in John as recorded in chapter eight. The people to whom he spoke were not getting it. Jesus asked them a question.
Why do ye not understand my speech?
even because ye cannot hear my word.
Why do people sometimes seem deaf to the Word of God? Why does it seem that what should be so easy to understand totally eludes people at times? What God has to say to us is too important to miss. Let’s consider this subject for a moment.
First, there is the problem of ignorance.
Ignorance comes in two forms:
1. Being untaught or poorly taught
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
The form of ignorance in this passage comes as a result of being untaught or poorly taught. This problem can cascade. When one area of Scripture is not understood, other areas can be improperly understood.
2. The second area of ignorance is deliberate ignorance.
II Peter 3:1-5 reveals that sometimes ignorance is willful. This is tragic! When a man or woman, on purpose, refuses to engage with the Word for the purpose of understanding, the results are devastating. Most of the time when this occurs it is because the individual has a personal agenda and they are proud.
Second, we must consider the deafness of unbelief. Sometimes people want to pick and choose what they believe from the Bible. This is dangerous. The Bible must be believed in its totality. In Luke 24 we find a couple that was sad and confused. Why? Because they wanted to believe certain things in the Bible about Jesus (the glory of Messiah), but not other things (The suffering and death of Messiah). Jesus rebuked them in Luke 24:25 and told them they were fools and slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets had spoken concerning him. What area of the Bible are you willfully refusing to hear?
The third reason why some people can’t seem to hear the Bible is because of limited discernment. We see this problem in the Corinthian Church. Paul wanted to give them deep and significant theological truths, but he could not because the Corinthians were “babes” (I Cor. 3:1) and were “carnal” (I Cor. 3:3). Carnality and immaturity produce a profound lack of discernment concerning spiritual things. America is eaten up with this type of Christian experience. We see this carnality manifested in many places in Corinthians, one of which is I Cor. 3:4-5. These Corinthian believers needed to grow in grace and knowledge (II Peter 3:18).
Let’s talk next about spiritual blindness. This is the fourth reason why some cannot hear the Word of God. Spiritual blindness is the unique experience of the unsaved world when it comes to understanding the essential truths of the Bible. There is a threefold understanding of this matter of the blindness of an unsaved person:
1. This blindness is a part of the sinful nature of fallen man - 1 Corinthians 2:14.
2. This blindness is deepened by the personal sins of the unbeliever - 1 John
2:11. The deeper a man goes into sin, the greater his blindness to the
things of God becomes.
3. This blindness is augmented by the work of Satan - 2 Corinthians 4:4.
See how strongly Jesus spoke to those sinful lost people who listened to him but could not hear him in John 8:44-47.
A fifth reason which is difficult to consider, but for thoroughness sake must be, is that of judicial blindness and deafness. In other words, some people cannot hear the Word of God, because their stubborn refusal to hear has led to a divine judgment that they now cannot hear!
In Matthew 13:10-11 Jesus tells his disciples that the reason he is now speaking in parables is "because...to them, it is not given" to know the mysteries of the kingdom. The giving of these parables was a divine judgment upon the nation of Israel. In Matthew 13:13-15 Jesus said that those to whom he spoke could see, but could not see. They could hear, but they could not hear, nor understand. Their hearts had become dull and unfeeling. They had closed their eyes and ears to the simple plain truth, and because of this, what they now received they could not understand. One can argue all day as to whether the parables were given to produce blindness or were the result of blindness, but the judicial nature of the Lord's words is clear. Truth rejection leads to moral/spiritual darkness.
It needs to be observed in this context that all of these reasons are
moral and personal.
The problem is not the Bible!
There is a theological term that is appropriate here. That word is perspicuity. The word perspicuity means plain, or clear. The problem with the Bible for most people is not what they don’t understand. The problem is what they do understand. As my dad used to say, “The Bible reads their title clear, and they don’t like it.”
Do you love the Bible?