Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:43)
I remember my oldest child studying the Bible on her own for the first time and asking with great concern, “Why did so many good, faithful people fail to recognize Jesus?” This prompted a larger and more relevant question for her as a young believer,"Will I recognize Jesus?"
In John’s Gospel, a group of Pharisees ask Jesus who he is. Jesus answers at length, but the Pharisees are argumentative and eventually violent. Jesus tells them that they struggle to understand his speech--the actual words he is saying--because they can’t bear his word-- the bigger, deeper, more radical, relevant message.
I can relate to Jesus’s frustration. Someone asked me a question in good faith, I thought, only to have them argue and twist my words. On the other hand, even today, we are surrounded by good and faithful people who find aspects of the Gospel too much to bear. How many of us have heard, or even said, “The Jesus I know would never…”
But What if He did?
Would I rather be right about Jesus, or be with Jesus?
What if He were to invite a violent religious extremist into his inner circle? Have lunch with a corrupt millionaire? Ask me to abandon family, reputation, or career? Tell me to get up and walk, if I want to be healed ?
How can I put myself above the Lord Jesus as judge of what he would do and not do when he has shown he would do anything to bring his message of radical power and love to a broken world?
May we all be surprised and delighted when we meet the Lord. May we give him glory for all his ways, and rejoice both in his promises we have long awaited, and in his actions we never expected.