An important prerequisite to hearing and seeing God is having a messenger in your life.
Prior to Mark, we have to note that there were 400 years of silence from the end of the Old Testament to the beginning of the New Testament. God had sent prophet after prophet calling people to repent of their sins. But what happened? They did not heed the warnings of these prophets.
And God’s judgment upon Israel during Isaiah’s day is that they will be ever hearing the words of God and seeing the miracles of God, yet they will lack understanding of what they are hearing and seeing.
My son Jeremiah is 4 years old and we tell him not to do certain things over and over. And most times it is outright rebellion. But after a while, we looked in his ears and there were these wax boulders virtually blocking his entire ear hole. So of course, he did not listen once in a while simply because he could not hear us.
I wonder how many times God speaks in our lives but we fail to respond because we fail to hear his voice. If you think about 400 years of silence from God, you can imagine how much spiritual wax buildup the people of God must have had in their ears. How spiritually dull they had become. And Jesus appears onto the scene, God who took on human flesh shows up, and he says, I am here. God is standing right in front of them and what do they do? They crucify him on a cross. Talk about totally missing it.
Easter just passed and if you want to know the real Jesus, then the cross is probably the best place to start if you want to know what Jesus is about. And we look at the cross and it boggles our minds, how could this happen? How could humanity kill a man who loved like he did, who healed like he did, who served others like he did, how could humanity kill God?
It gets back to what Isaiah prophesied –- we lack spiritual understanding because we hear and see God but it’s like we are looking past Jesus and nothing is really penetrating.
It’s interesting that the Markan account does not begin with Jesus, but rather it begins with a messenger. Jesus doesn’t storm onto the scene. Instead, Jesus sent John the Baptist ahead of him to prepare the way.
Mark quotes a prophesy from Isaiah in Mark 1:3 – “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus to prepare the people for Jesus. Why is this necessary? Because when Jesus speaks one word, he wants direct access to your heart. One word from Jesus can totally transform your life. It can take you from spiritual death to life. One word.
But why doesn’t that happen whenever the word of God is preached? Why are not more people transformed more often after hearing the word of God?
To answer this, I refer you to Louis Pasteur. French scientist in 1864 who was one of the first to disprove spontaneous generation, the theory that life spontaneously generates from the air. He sought to prove that these kinds of micro organisms do not just spontaneously generate, like mold on food. Rather, these micro organisms are carried by dust that land on the food and then are generated.
So you know the famous experiment. He created two flasks of nutrient rich broth. On one of them, it was just a straight pass through funnel. On the other was a bent funnel. You know the result. On the crooked one, there was no direct access for the dust so the micro-organisms did not form.
Spiritually, why doesn’t God’s word penetrate and hit our hearts?
One reason given here is a the facts that our hearts are crooked. That is why when Jesus comes to us through his word, he runs into twists and turns and roadblocks.
On Sundays when I preach, I can look out at people’s faces and I can tell whether or not the word of God is penetrating and having an effect.
I see glazed looks or disinterested looks or arms folded in rebellion or eyes closing in drowsiness so I wonder, am I communicating? Certainly, when those eyes are closed, I know the word of God is not penetrating.
When our hearts are crooked, it doesn’t matter how much God wants to speak to us, the word of God cannot hit our hearts because the message is deflected and it never reaches its intended target.
It should be the case that whenever God’s word is spoken, we fall on our knees in repentance or we are overflowing with thanksgiving or awe of God or our heart burns with a desire to share the love of God with others. But these types of responses to the word of God are few and far between largely because Jesus does not have direct access to our hearts.
And so we may be in the same room as others who hear and see God, but our response is that we hear and see the very same thing as the person next to us who is touched by God, but for us, the message goes in one ear and out the other.
Our hearts need to be straightened out. This takes preparation. Meditation. Self-examination. Prayer. Moments of silence throughout the day. Asking ourselves, am I experiencing Jesus today? If not, is my heart crooked?