Thursday, December 8, 2016

Learning to See Clearly

This past week, my sermon began with Mark 10.46-52 and the story of Bartimaeus, but I then went back to explore the three sayings of Jesus where He revealed to His disciples what was to come (Mark 8.31; 9.31; 10.33-34). As I have been reflecting on His words, and how the disciples did not understand them, I have thought about all that I misunderstand as well. Of course, the list is far too long for this post (or even a series of posts), but I must speak for a moment on this issue.

The disciples were with Jesus every day for 3 1/2 years and yet they did not understand. It seems hard to fathom this, as it does the lack of trust the Israelites had in God despite following the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Yet, the disciples fully understood after the resurrection, and their actions changed the world. But what about us? What about me?

Do you believe someone could rise from the dead after being buried three days? If you are a believer in Jesus, you do. And, of course, Jesus raised Lazarus a day later than that. But what if you didn’t have that knowledge? I think it would be hard, if not impossible to believe.

What if you were told that the leader who had been promised for centuries was here? And this leader did not refute that He was Messiah, but His actions and the miracles gave further proof He was. And what if, because He was Messiah, that meant that all of those wonderful names mentioned by Isaiah were true of Him as well: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9.6)? And further, if that was true, then His government, upon the throne of David, would increase and know no end (Isaiah 9.7).  If all of these were true, the context of Jesus’ statements about suffering and dying upon entry into Jerusalem would make no sense at all.

But looking back Jesus' words do make sense. We have the advantage of hindsight. We look back and ask how the disciples could miss the truth of who Jesus was. But don’t we miss this as well?

What if our lives were recorded in such a way that people reviewed our (lack of) understanding years, or even centuries, from now? What if people reviewed my post of last week for instance (Carte Blanche) and wondered why it took me so long to do that? Of course, if I could, I would defend myself by saying, “Well, I have in the past, but I just keep forgetting how much I can trust God with my life?” To which, the people of the future would be as dumbfounded at me, as I often am of the Twelve (and other disciples).

The truth is that the disciples did have Jesus with them, but I have the Spirit with me (sent by Jesus, John 15.16-17). How can I not understand? Why am I so thick-headed regarding my situation sometimes? It isn’t for lack of knowledge (in most cases); it is for lack of understanding. More specifically, it is a lack of faith.

As I continue my journey, I need to remember where I have been and what life has taught me. I need not remain there, because I must go forward and become the man that God wants me to be (Ephesians 5.1). To do that, I must better reflect on what God has already done for me so that I am ready to trust Him regardless of what lies before me.

Like the disciples. I may not know what the future holds. Unlike the disciples, I do not have Jesus teaching me face to face what is to come. But what I have is far greater than what they had before the resurrection – knowledge that Jesus did what He said He would. The question is: will I respond as well as the disciples did once they understood what I am still seeking to understand. Because it is good to know and have knowledge, but it is another to understand and then live with the assurance that comes with the knowledge. As I continue to learn to see Jesus more clearly, may my life better reflect the assurance I want, the assurance I need, and ultimately the assurance He has already provided for me.

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