Jesus demonstrated honor in the way He related to people. He used eye contact and physical touch. His actions were representative of the infinite value affixed by the Father on the individuals He encountered on a daily basis. His methods were simple, yet their impact was profound.
Palestine was a Roman province—occupied and overseen by zealous politicians intent on pleasing Caesar. Everything was Rome’s way or the highway and that particular highway led to an excruciating crucifixion on a cross if Rome’s way was not obeyed to the letter. Opposition was ruthlessly crushed in an immediate manner. Therefore, there was little outward opposition. The common people could not speak out, nor were their needs heard.
Rome allowed the Jews to practice their religion with little interference and their religious leaders the political privilege of limited rulership. Needless to say, these priests knew who buttered their bread, and thus, their ears were also closed to the cries of their people.
Jesus stepped into a culture crying to be heard and He listened. He listened to the masses that were ignored, and by listening restored their voice. He listened to the common people—those considered worthless slaves by the Romans and wicked sinners by the priests. He listened and He heard the cries of their heart.
Everyone yearns to be heard. We all hunger for that simple dignity. Talking is easy—just pause for a few moments and listen—everyone’s doing it. But listening is hard work and actually hearing what is being said is even tougher. The average person will only listen for 15 seconds without interrupting and giving their own two cents, which means for at least 7 of those seconds the person listening was not really listening. Instead that person was formulating a response. In other words, most of us either don’t know how to listen or simply like to hear our own voice more.
Jesus honored people by listening to what they had to say. He heard their words and understood their hearts. His heart was tuned to the wavelength of the suffering—the sick, the poor, the shattered, and the ostracized. He often heard them before He could see them.
The story of Bartimaeus exemplifies this. A blind man who lived on the fringe of society, subsisting on the coins pitched on his mat, Bartimaeus had a dream—a burning desire within his heart. He wanted to see. As Jesus approached, this blind beggar began to yell with all his might. The response of the crowd was, “Be quiet!” The response of Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?” In other words, “Tell me what your need is. I’m listening.” Jesus honored Bartimaeus by listening, and then healed him by restoring his sight.
Each day we walk past men and women who have no voice and will not be heard if we are unwilling to listen. Their silent screams fill the air but their needs go wanting and ignored. If you and I are unwilling to listen—who will?
My father used to say, “God gave you two ears and one mouth. Think about it!”—meaning we were created to listen twice as much as we speak. What if we stopped talking about being Christ-like and started listening like Christ? Talk is cheap—action speaks far louder than words.
Honor someone today by just listening. God may use that simple act of dignity to work a miracle in them and…you.