One of the things I love about Jesus is that He makes you search for Him even when He’s standing right in front of you.
(Warning: This Catch is going to be difficult for those who are mostly left-brained. My wife always jokes about having only one left brain cell. Well, for those with only one right brain cell, I suggest you get that cell out and start getting it to do some pushups to get it in shape before you read any further.)
The speech of Jesus was tempered with irony, sarcasm, hyperbole, metaphor, juxtaposition, and innuendo. You have to think about and decipher what Jesus said. It’s not always obvious or on the surface.
Jesus once said that if they destroyed the temple, He would build it back in 3 days. The people were overwhelmed because they knew how many years it took to build the temple. But they didn’t realize He was speaking about His own body (and He didn’t tell them that). This kind of thing was going on all the time with Jesus. I’m sure many walked away thinking He was nuts.
The words “I am the Messiah,” never came out of Jesus’ mouth. The closest He came to revealing Himself directly was privately to a Samaritan woman who was speaking about the Messiah coming, and Jesus said, “I, the one speaking to you — I am he” (John 4:26).
Read the gospels and tell me that you understand everything that Jesus said. Good luck. And that’s just what was recorded. Jesus spoke in parables not to make the truth clearer, but to obscure it, so the Holy Spirit could reveal it to whomever He chose, but hide it from everyone else. Jesus did not cast His pearls to pigs or give dogs what was sacred. He makes us work for it. He wants to know if we really want to know.
Years ago when I was first writing devotions, I was sitting at my computer struggling over an idea for inspiration when I suddenly realized I had been staring at some pretty incredible pictures of God’s creation on my screensaver. Then it dawned on me that I had been caught up in worshiping God through my screensaver without thinking of it as worship. Duh! I decided to write my devotional in such a way as to take my readers through the same experience of discovery I had gone through. (I wanted them to feel as dumb as I did and possibly make a point if even for that.) I decided the best way to do that was to set them up by admitting I didn’t know what I was going to write about that day, but I had gotten caught up in some pretty incredible pictures on my screensaver, anyway, such as:
… a filigree of fern, its curled, unopened fronds lined up like the tops of cellos in an orchestra section
… a stand of tall Aspens, the green of their tops and the green forest floor blending into a black background leaving only the straight, bare skeleton-white trunks to emerge ghostly through the fog
… a close-up of a single drop of dew suspended under a blade of grass, so still and so pure, you could see your reflection in it.
Then after waxing as eloquently as I possibly could describing five or six more images on my screensaver, I concluded by writing: “After all this, I’m still sitting here, hands clasped behind my head, wondering what I should write about today to help lead us all in the worship of God. Any ideas?”
The surprise was the number of people who wrote me back and tried to seriously answer my question: they tried to give me ideas! One person was even upset that someone in my position would admit to having nothing to write about!
The experience showed me we’ve all got to ease up on ourselves spiritually. We can become so bent on getting everything right that we can’t enjoy the process of discovery. Jesus didn’t put everything on the bottom shelf. He didn’t lay it all out in black and white like you or I would. More often than not He sent people away scratching their heads. I believe that’s because He wants to involve us in the process. Get that little right brain cell to do 20 more pushups and let it revel in the mystery of what it can’t understand.
So lighten up a little when you read the words of Jesus. Some of it will cut you to the quick, and some of it is downright hilarious. Sometimes you need to look behind what He said to find out what He wanted us to get. And while you’re at it, why not take a look around you right now and find something you can worship God over that you never saw before. Believe me, there’s lots to choose from.
Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.
– Roger van Oech