Much of Luke chapter eight has to do with “listening.” When Mark tells the Parable of the Sower, he emphasizes what you listen to. When Luke tells it, he emphasizes how one listens. It’s possible to listen to the wrong thing or the wrong person and be led astray. But it is also possible to listen to the right thing and listen carelessly, or not take it to heart.
When the word of God is not believed, or not obeyed, or crowded out by worldliness (there’s a progression here), these are examples of poor listening. You hear, but you’re not paying attention.
Proper listening is all important, for it determines our relationship with Jesus. After all, Jesus says his family is composed of those who hear the word of God and put it into practice (8:21).
The demon possessed man of Gadara had heard of Jesus, and that word had so taken root that not even the demons who consumed his life could keep him away. The woman with the bleeding problem had heard of Jesus, and so believed in him that she felt only the need to touch him to be healed. Jarius believed, but struggled. Yet his persistent faith enabled him to see his daughter healed and alive.
We must become good listeners. We must listen to the word of God, and that word must take root in our lives and bear fruit, resulting in trust in Jesus leading to a changed life. Most people will not listen well, and surprisingly, Jesus has no sympathy for them. He tells his disciples that’s why he deliberately speaks in parables – so that the careless hearers will not understand (8:9-10).