Since the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry His followers have proven to lack spiritual understanding concerning the kingdom of heaven. This lack of understanding has produced many misconceptions, poor decisions, and false beliefs over time. Jesus clearly demonstrated His endless power over Creation by turning water to wine, healing the crippled, and raising the dead and all witnessed by His followers. However, even those closest to Him continually proved to lack faith even to the point of questioning Jesus Himself. A good illustration of this comes from the event where Jesus remained fast asleep in a boat during a great storm.
“Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm. “Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?” Overwhelmed with fear, they asked one another, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:37-41). Although these disciples had witnessed the greatness of Jesus many times over again, they proved to lack faith in the midst of the storm. I wonder if in the same setting we would react any differently than those disciples had.
Mary and Martha are two sisters who spent a great deal of time with Jesus as He visited them and their brother Lazarus often in their hometown of Bethany. When Lazarus died, the two sisters were so distraught that they too questioned Jesus for not being there for them in their time of need. “So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him; but Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask Him.” “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her. Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24-27). Martha, thinking in human terms, could not grasp what Jesus was telling her.
After that, Martha went and told Mary, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” And when Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him” (John 11:28). “When Mary came to Jesus and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Would we have seen things differently than Martha and Mary if we had been there? The spiritual mysteries of heaven are well beyond human understanding. However, just as the early followers of Christ, far too often today’s followers try to see things from a human understanding.
Maybe one of the strongest cases to explain how we can misinterpret the things of God comes from the very first chapter in the Book of Acts. After Judas Iscariot hung himself, the disciples were pondering what was written in the book of Psalms, “May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, ‘May another take his position.” Therefore it is necessary to select one of the men who have accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism until the day Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. And they prayed, “Lord, You know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two You have chosen to assume this ministry and apostleship, which Judas abandoned to go to his rightful place.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:20-26). Matthias, appointed by men to fulfill God’s written scripture was only mentioned twice in the entire New Testament, both cases are in the passage above. In hind sight, there is no doubt they stepped out to help God, but the Father had other plans for this open billet as illustrated below.
As mentioned in the book of Psalms, it was God’s will to have another take the apostleship position vacated by Judas, and it did not take long for the Lord to do just that. We now know that God appointed the Apostle Paul and not Matthias to fill this void. As Paul (then called Saul) was on his way to Damascus to confront the followers of Jesus there was a sudden great light from heaven that flashed around him. “He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are You, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4-6). There are many places we can find in the scriptures validating this to be true, here are just two of them: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother” (2 Corinthians 1:1).
The point of all this should be clear. In our finite human minds we continue to assemble misconceptions, make poor decisions, and maintain false beliefs just as the early believers did. This is why the Body of Christ, the true Church, remains in discord fragmented by traditions and practices that come from human understanding and not from the Father above. Once we decide to humble ourselves accepting just how simple minded we are in comparison to the wondrous mysteries of heaven we will begin to gain spiritual understand about all things. This is part of the full surrender it takes to follow Christ by faith.
We really do not have to try to figure out the mysteries of heaven. Instead, we must place our total trust and faith in Christ and allow Him to Shepherd us along the narrow path. It is at that point we can begin to see things His way and not our own way (or the way of others) based on our own understanding. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast in His presence. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31).
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