A COMMON PHENOMENON
"While they continued to stand around exclaiming over all the things He was doing, Jesus said to His disciples, 'Treasure and ponder each of these next words: The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into human hands." They didn't get what He was saying. It was like He was speaking a foreign language and they couldn't make heads or tails of it. But they were embarrassed to ask Him what He meant." Luke 9:43-45 (The Message).
This was the second time Jesus told His disciples about His impending suffering and death. The first was in the context of His identity. He had questioned them, in the environment of Caesarea Philippi, the "red light" district of Israel, who they thought He was. Peter's reply indicated that they were at least a little farther along in understanding than the people who constantly thronged Him.
At the same time it was clear that both Peter and probably the rest of the disciples along with him, had no idea what "Messiah" meant. To them He was no more than a political figure sent to deliver them from Roman oppression. All His teaching and demonstration of the nature of the kingdom of God fell off them like water off a duck's back.
Why did He repeatedly inform them of His coming ordeal in Jerusalem, even exposing them to what they had just seen and heard on the Mount of Transfiguration, involving two of their greatest historical figures? Was it to inform, to warn, to prepare them for what lay ahead? Was it to expand their understanding of who the Messiah was and what He had come to do?
Jesus was up against something in the disciples that is common in human nature. We all seem to be able to block our ability to understand what we refuse to believe. They refused to believe that suffering and violent death was included in the purpose of His coming. It was not on their agenda for Him because salvation from sin and reconciliation to the Father was not on their agenda. Their tunnel vision prevented them from accepting anything outside of their expectation.
Was there something in the words Jesus used that they could not understand? And yet they did not grasp what He was telling them! We know, from hindsight, exactly what He was saying because we have the benefit of everything that followed.
In the context of our own experience, there are many things in God's Word that we don't understand, not because the words are difficult, but because our brains block out our ability to understand those parts that do not fit our expectation.
Take for example, the way we perceive and experience God's love. The Bible is a continuous story of the way God treats people because of His love for them. His mercy and compassion overshadow the story of His stubborn, rebellious and wayward people. He had every right to take them out and start all over again. And yet, time and again, He forgave them and rescued them from the consequences of their wickedness, Why? Because He loved them.
His Word assures us that He loved the world so much that He sent His Son to redeem all mankind. However, when we go through hard times, what do we do? We blame God and doubt His love! We cannot translate the love that provided a Saviour into a love that cares about us in our troubles and problems.
What is the solution? We find in His Word what our expectation of Him should be. He tells us what He wants to do and is capable of doing in our lives. We will only be transformed when we renew our minds with His Word instead of stubbornly holding on to our inadequate and misinformed ideas of who He is and what He had promised He will do.
What's on your agenda for God that does not come from Him? Let His Word shape your thoughts and your understanding of who He is, what He says and what your expectation of Him should be, and you will come closer to the truth of what He has in mind for you.
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