Hearing Aid


“He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9)

The usual way to speak to somebody who’s hard of hearing is to talk more loudly. But that’s not how Jesus does it. Nope. When he’s around somebody who doesn’t hear so well, he lowers his voice. In fact, Jesus seems to go out of his way not to be understood much of the time. He’s history’s greatest spiritual mumbler.

Take the parables. You know, those wonderful little stories Jesus tells about farmers and seeds and sheep. Those simple little fairy tales showing us all about God’s kingdom. Stories everybody can understand, right? Nope. Not even close. Jesus isn’t using parables to explain anything; he’s using parables to hide stuff. When his disciples ask him why he speaks to the people in parables, Jesus tells them that the others aren’t allowed to understand so he uses parables to make sure they don’t understand. He tells his mates that those who already have get more, but those who have nothing to start with will even get that taken away. Sheesh. Talk about a stacked deck.

Then, to make the wicket even stickier, Jesus pulls a passage from his favorite prophet Isaiah and with one fell swoop diagnoses those poor suckers problem: they can’t see and can barely hear. If they could hear better, Jesus quotes, they would see and hear and he would heal them. And so, to keep them from getting it, Jesus deploys the Kingdom cloaking device, which effectively keeps under wraps the very thing the blind and deaf folks need to get better. Instead of yelling to be understood, Jesus plays the hoarse whisperer—and the deaf and dumb get deafer and dumber.

You see, in spite of Jesus being the light of the world and all that, he’s really into secrets. He heals a leper and tells the guy to “say nothing to anyone.” He casts out demons and commands them to shut up about who he is. Jesus is the master of the hit and run, the maestro of misdirection, the priest of prestidigitation, the lord of legerdemain. Only in retrospect is Jesus obvious—and only then if he clues you in. For the unclued, he’s a secret agent and an agent of secrets.

God may be easygoing about sunsets, but he’s a shark when it comes to spiritual property rights. And you can forget copping beatific bootlegs or pirated perceptions, those alternative paths to enlightenment. Pipe dreams, baby. If Jesus doesn’t grant you a license to download, you’re running on empty. God may be in the broadcasting business, but his source code is a highly guarded secret, even if it is in plain view. There’s only one place you can get ahold of it. Treasure Island. Pearl Harbor. The Cornerstone Cafe.

He who has ears, let him hear.


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