Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Mark 9:7
If you’re following along in the story, you’ll know that Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah (Mark 8:29), then rebuked Jesus for claiming that the Messiah must die (8:32), and now he is standing on the Mount of Transfiguration saying something silly (9:5). Personally, I find it encouraging that being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t mean that we always have it all together. Peter still doesn’t really get what Jesus is trying to tell him, so the Father gets Peter’s attention. “Listen to him!”
“Listen!” It doesn’t just mean to hear something, but to pay attention to it, to mark it, to recognize it as important. So how can we listen to Jesus?
To begin with, to listen to Jesus is to listen as though our life depends upon it. We listen to what we think matters. To listen to Jesus is to come to Him in Scripture and prayer to hear what He has to say about anything and everything. As Christians, we believe that the Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). If we want to know what the Lord has to say about most of the big topics of life, we need to pick up our Bibles and listen to what Jesus has to say. One of the simplest things we can do to help hear Jesus’ voice in the Bible is to say a simple prayer before reading: Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
But there is another aspect of listening that I think is important: noticing. To listen to someone, you hear more than words. You hear inflection, tone and different emphases. You see expression and body language. Listening is both paying attention to what is said and how it is said. Listening and noticing are linked.
What I’m getting at is this: we don’t just listen to Jesus as we set aside time in study and prayer. We are meant to listen to Jesus all the time, no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing.
That kind of listening requires learning to pay attention to what Jesus is doing in our lives at any given moment. He is always with us and active in our lives by the Holy Spirit. Many of us, though, struggle with noticing how Jesus is with us and what He is doing. Noticing doesn’t just happen. It is a cultivated attitude.
Noticing happens when we slow down enough to look about and observe what is going on around us. Noticing means that we leave enough space in our lives to not have to rush from one thing to another. It is hard to notice things when you’re going ninety miles an hour. But when we slow down and live in the awareness that Jesus is always with us and always at work in and about us, we will find that He is constantly speaking into our lives.
Slow down. Notice. Listen.