My wife just got a Twitter account for our studio. The purpose of Twitter is to acquire “followers” and make a bunch of noise. Likewise, you can follow other noisemakers that seem interesting to you. Some are more interesting than others, of course.
But followers are fickle. Not much unlike your Facebook friends, if you start saying stupid things regularly (i.e. explicit content, slanderous remarks, pictures of your abdomen in the bathroom mirror, allusions to electing Newt Gingrich), you’re going to lose friends. (Irony?)
By Luke 8, Jesus has several followers, but only a handful are mentioned by name. Luke 6:13-16 lists the core disciples. The “Twelve” are given recognition at the opening of chapter eight, along with some women.
Jewish culture wasn’t very fond of women receiving any recognition, so this is a big deal. And these women aren’t very reputable — Mary Magdalene is a hooker, and Joanna is the wife of a guy keeping up the household of Herod, the successor of the guy that tried to kill Jesus as a baby. Susanna isn’t described, but I bet she’s trouble too.
That’d be like being friends with Lindsey Lohan and the CEO of Phillip-Morris on Facebook.
So Jesus, turning to all of His followers, starts to tell a story about a farmer tossing his seeds around (v. 4-8). He’s not a very good farmer, because the seeds end up all over the place. Nonetheless, the seeds fall upon four surfaces: a road, a thorny briar, a stony surface, and tasty soil. You can read it on your own for the interpretation of this story, because Jesus already did it.
Then, He uses an alarming phrase: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” What does this mean?
Jesus is suggesting that some of the people that are present aren’t actually listening to what He’s saying. In fact, He is intentionally making His lesson cryptic in order to filter out the posers! (v. 9-10)
He again stresses listening in verse 18, particularly HOW we listen. Eventually, everything that Jesus said is going to be revealed, so we need to be alert and actually take what He says seriously, or everything will dissipate before we can even hold on!
If Jesus is trying to acquire more followers, He’s doing a terrible job.
To further isolate the crowd, Jesus proceeds to disown His family. “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (v. 21) In other words, Jesus is not associated with those who are disobedient; rather, it’s those who actually listen and follow Him that are considered family.
You can hop on the grace train, which is a beautiful first class express to heaven, using His blood as a scapegoat to continue your misdeeds. That’s fine. But I think Jesus’ words are worth heeding. I’m probably not a very good relative of Jesus myself.
Do you listen to what He says? By the way, He didn’t say anything about thwarting the homosexual agenda or being a pro-life advocate. There’s room for this to a limited degree. We’re called to stand firm for the truth. But when He says to be a light to others, are you doing this? Are you producing fruit (teaching the truth, helping others, etc.) as the parable suggests?
Following Jesus goes further than going to church, behaving, and working hard. We must be willing to do all that He says, to be saturated by His character and to emulate His essence. Be a follower. Listen.