Because of their unbelief…

I’m reading through the four accounts of the Gospel to learn how Jesus spoke His message. It isn’t always intuitive at all. One of the things we Christians strive for is to present the Gospel clearly. This didn’t seem to be a priority for Jesus. Most of the time He was downright cryptic about it. “Let Him hear who has ears to hear.”

Jesus certainly said what He meant to say. That’s often what we have in mind when we talk about clarity; saying what you intend to say and not something else. In that sense Jesus was crystal clear. He said precisely what he meant to say, it’s just that He didn’t mean to say everything plainly.

He was not relying on His listeners’ mental faculties alone for them to understand. Rather, He was saying things in such a way that even for His eldest disciple to realize He was the Christ required that God and not flesh and blood reveal it to him. Why didn’t Jesus explain it all right off the bat, “I am the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Why didn’t He say it so plainly that absolutely anyone could use their three pounds of grey flesh and blood to figure it out?

Perhaps the reason is that God was revealing the message to people. By speaking in parables Jesus ensured the credit wound up where it was due. If everything was said as plain as day, then anyone would assume they had simply learned about it the way they learned arithmetic or goat-herding. Speaking mysteriously left no doubt that God had been at work to reveal. If the truth had been presented to him with all plainness and clarity throughout his discipleship, Peter might have been quite surprised to hear that God not flesh had revealed the truth to him. But, spoken as it was in parables made it clear God was at work.

I don’t think the conclusion to draw from this is that we should speak the message of Christ in a way that isn’t plain. I think the conclusion to draw is that God is at work to reveal as we speak truth, and our trust must be in Him and not ourselves to reveal truth to our listeners. Put another way we must look to God and not flesh and blood to reveal truth.

Christ ministers in His own hometown in Matthew 13. Matthew tells us that because of their unbelief Jesus did not do many mighty works among them. Might we expect that if we speak His message with our confidence in flesh and blood rather than in God to be the revealer of the truth then He may also do few mighty works among us?

  1. #1 by G.P. on January 13, 2007 - 7:40 AM

    Just had another thought about the idea that Christ spoke mysteriously in order that God might receive His due glory when folks understand. I think this is the same idea C.S. Lewis had in mind by implying in “Til We Have Faces” that on Earth holy places are dark places.

    That might not make any sense to someone who hasn’t read the book, and I think that’s either ironic or maybe just a bummer.

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