Isaiah 50:4–9a (NRSV)
Verse 4The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. Verse 5The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. Verse 6I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. Verse 7The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; Verse 8he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. Verse 9It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.
I am a teacher and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that my job is to tell people things they do not know. But I find my best days in the classroom are the ones where I not only teach but when I am being taught. This happens when students wrestle with an idea and this sparks new insights for the entire class, including me. Those are the times when real learning is taking place.
In our reading from Isaiah, the prophet speaks in verse 4 of God’s servants as ones who “listen as those who are taught.” In other words, these words underline that we don’t have all the answers— sometimes we simply need to be good listeners to be taught. That is good advice for hearing the Word of God in the Bible. And it also applies to our relationships and the importance of real listening rather than constantly doling out our opinions and supposed good advice.
Lord Jesus, during this season of Lent we are humbled by the love you show to us, the unlovable. Open our hearts that we may genuinely listen to you and your Word of life. Amen.