18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
1901 ASV Translation:
18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath.
I. The Explanation For the Parable.
A. The major issue is "projecting light".
B. The major problems are two.
1. Trying to hide what cannot, ultimately, be hidden [See Notes for Mar. 1, 2009].
2. Listening without understanding the consequences.
a. The "caution" (Take heed how ye hear...) is rooted in the "explanation" (there are real and definitive "gainers" and "losers").
1) The "haves" will get more (the rich get richer).
2) The "have-nots" get taken to the cleaners (the poor get poorer).
b. The "caution" has a "Kingdom of God" setting.
1) This is a parable that reveals the "mysteries of the Kingdom" (8:10).
2) As a revealer of the mysteries, one thing stands out: the "having" does not consist of the poverty stricken, faux gods of the kingdoms of this world, nor does the "losing" consist of a loss of those "gods".
a) Jesus could not have been more clear in His "beatitudes" upon the heirs of the kingdom about these facts: it is the "poor" who are blessed; it is the "hungry" who are blessed; it is those who "weep" who are blessed; it is the "hated", the "ostracized", the "reproached" and the "slandered" who are blessed (6:20-22).
b) Therefore, however we consider the "having", we should not suppose that it will consist of wealth, abundance of food, laughter, and acceptance: these are faux gods.
c) And, however we consider the "losses", we should not suppose that they will consist of poverty, hunger, weeping, or rejection.
d) Thus, we are "boxed in" so that we ask the most serious question of all: What does it mean to "have" and to "have it taken away"?
i. There can only be one answer: the presence of God. In the best known of all of the psalms, the psalmist says, "...for Thou are with me..." as the panacea of all. This is consonant with Paul's clear declaration: Christ is our Life (Colossians 3:4).
ii. The antithesis of this presence is also declared; "I will fear no evil." No promise of riches, no promise of food, no promise of laughter, no promise of status in the eyes of men: it is simply the declaration of the absence of fear. The presence of God; the absence of fear: blessed.
iii. The warning that what one "thinks" he has will be taken from him has to boil down to one reality: "thinking" that one has something worthwhile when he/she does not actually have that can only mean that the gods have not yet been exposed. The exposure comes when the roof falls in and God is nowhere to be found.
c. The "caution" compels the question: How are we supposed to listen?
1. Clearly, people "listen" to what is proclaimed with all kinds of "methods" ("How?" is a methodological question; not a content question).
2. Just as clearly, methodologies are "means to an end" issue, which means that people are seeking to solve some kind of issue by means of "listening".
3. This means this: listening is a means to an end and the real question is the essence of that "end".
4. Since, then, the "one" answer mentioned above (d, i) is the one answer, the issue of the essence of the "end" is the issue of getting to know God asHeis. It is not about trying to figure out a way to manipulate Him; it is not about trying to be "religious"; it is not about trying to figure out how to escape the circumstances of life; it is about finding out what He is really like and relating to Him in a "hearing-under" ( upakouw ) form, or, as He says in 8:21, "hearing and doing" (Note also 6:47-49). It is interesting that the first time Luke used the word translated "hear", it was the record of Elisabeth "hearing" the salutation of Mary, John "leaping" in his mother's womb, and Elisabeth being filled with the Spirit. This was on the heels of 1:38 wherein Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."