It never seemed to bother Jesus that so many people misunderstood what He said. He didn’t go out of His way to explain things to His hearers. And He never chased after anyone when they didn’t like what He said.
In fact, He did the opposite. He spoke in parables for the express purpose of hiding the true meaning from those listening in. “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven” [Mark 4:11-12].
Seems so strange to us that He would do that. We try to ‘defend God’s honour’ by making excuses for difficult things, or trying to explain them away. God forbid that we should let God’s words stand as they are!
Not Jesus though. He seemed content to let God deal with the fall-out of His words. Which, I presume, is why He let everyone walk away when they couldn’t accept His words in John 6:53-66. “This is a hard saying; who can accept it?” [v 60].
Who doesn’t look into the night sky without being stirred to praise and adoration at the heavenly bodies? Even the enemies of God are struck by the beauty of the universe.
David wrote, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” [Ps 8:3].
In David’s eyes, we seem so insignificant compared with the universe. Insignificant in size, and insignificant in beauty. And yet, the wonder of mankind surpasses even the beauty of the heavens.
For all its flaws – and there are many – mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation.
What else is there in all of creation with the creativity of mankind? With the inventiveness, the artistic flair? With the ability to learn and to grow and to think outside the box? With the curiosity to search out new lands and new technologies?
The intricacies of the human body, the unfathomable depths of the human mind; truly wonderful creations. What else is made in the image of God? In what else resides ‘the breath of God’?
Truly, there is nothing in all of creation to compare with mankind.
And yet, mankind is made “a little lower than the heavenly beings” [Ps 8:5]. Why should God care for him?
Have you ever noticed how often the Bible speaks of future events as if they’ve already happened?
One of my favourite examples of this are the couple of verses sometimes called ‘The Golden Chain of Salvation’ – Rom 8:29-30. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
It lays out the basic steps in the process of someone’s salvation: predestined, called, and justified. Now there are a few steps missing from the list – conversion and sanctification being the most notable.
But what’s obvious to anyone with their eyes open is that none of us are yet glorified. And yet Paul speaks in the same past tense as he used for called and justified.
Why would this be so? My thinking is that whenever God decides that something will be so, then it is guaranteed to happen. Therefore, if God has predestined, called and justified a person, it’s only a matter of time (and a matter of dying, of course) before that person is finally glorified.
A similar principle applies to some other Scriptures, ones that speak of future events as if they are current, not just historical. And here I’m thinking of a passage we looked at on Sunday from 1Cor 15.
When I was a young bloke, I loved camping. Getting away from ‘the Big Smoke’ with my flimsy little tent, and the most basic of equipment and supplies was always fun.
I camped on the surf beaches, I camped in the hills, I camped in the outback, and I camped by the Murray River, a particular favourite to this day.
It was always pretty rough-and-ready camping. No comfy bed, no showers, no kitchen table, no fridge, no electronic devices, not even toilet facilities. Ahh, such fond memories.
There’s a relatively recent phenomenon known as ‘Glamping’ – glamorous camping. It blends some of the benefits of traditional camping – beautiful locations, low impact on the environment – with some of the mod-cons of home – spacious, large comfy bed, maybe even an air-conditioner.
When glamping, you’ll be under the shelter of a very large and solid tent, often a yurt. Chances are, you’ll be the only people there. And the view is almost guaranteed to be spectacular.
But whether camping or glamping, there are drawbacks. Living in a tent will never be as comfortable or secure or safe as living in your own home. You’re away from familiar environments, separated from the people you know and love, with limited protection from the elements, and limited access to all the conveniences of modern life that we enjoy without even thinking about them.
Not entirely unlike living in this earthly body…