Our Patient Teacher
Imagine a student sitting in a classroom, staring at a formula on the board. The formula’s symbols are complete gibberish to her, but she is afraid to raise her hand to ask a clarifying question. Many of us have likely experienced a similar situation, caught in a dilemma: on the one hand we’re in fear of being shown up or of where the answer will lead if we ask, but on the other hand we know we’ll be impossibly stuck if we don’t.
Although the disciples lived in the company of Jesus, regularly listened to His teaching, received His instructions, and saw His miraculous deeds, they still struggled to understand the bigger picture of His ministry. Many times, Jesus spoke plainly with them about all that lay before Him—His betrayal, death, and resurrection. Yet they faced the worst of predicaments: “They did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.”
Peter, James, and John had just witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8). They knew He was the Son of God. But the sincerity of the disciples’ belief in Jesus as Messiah wasn’t matched by their understanding of what it meant for Him to actually be the Messiah. Their perception of the Messiah was blurred and incomplete, causing confusion and fear. Perhaps they did not ask Jesus to explain further because they did not want to admit their ignorance; or perhaps because they were unwilling to confront the implications of what He was telling them, both for Himself (v 30-31) and for them (8:34-35).
Even after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus needed Him to take them back through the whole panorama of the Bible in order that they might understand His suffering and put everything together (Luke 24:26-27). Immediately before His ascension to heaven, the disciples were still unsure of the nature of Christ’s kingdom. This time, though, they asked Jesus for answers; and Jesus didn’t say, Are you back again with that same question? How many times are you going to ask? Instead, He graciously explained that His kingdom would not come by the re-establishment of the temple in Jerusalem but would advance through the work of the Holy Spirit in each of the disciples (Acts 1:8).
Maybe you find yourself identifying with the disciples here, finding it difficult to understand all that is taught in God’s word or unsure that you really want to confront the implications of what you have begun to understand. But your situation need not be filled with fear. How good that Jesus is such a kind and patient teacher—so kind and patient with His disciples, so kind and patient with you and me. And how good that the Holy Spirit dwells within you, enabling you to do all that your Lord calls you to do (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Galatians 5:16). Today, then, if you find yourself lacking wisdom and understanding, simply ask God, “who gives generously to all without reproach” (James 1:5).
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Proclaiming Christ Crucified
1And I, when I came to you, brothers,1 did not come proclaiming to you the testimony2 of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men3 but in the power of God.
Wisdom from the Spirit
6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.4
14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
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