Sometimes, I just don’t get it. There are so many things in our world that don’t make sense to me. Others seem to understand, but that understanding eludes me. I don’t understand tattoos and piercings. I know that it is a part of the ethos of this current generation, but I just don’t see the appeal. I don’t get the obsession with cell phones. I see more and more people becoming a slave to their phone. It seems to be permanently attached to their ear. I resisted cell phones for a long time, because I didn’t want to be that accessible. We installed an answering machine at our house so that we don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings. There are so many aspects of our current culture that truly puzzle me. I know that I am old-fashioned, a kind of dinosaur in some ways, but sometimes I just don’t get it.
I was reading in Mark’s gospel today and landed in chapter 8. Jesus had just performed a second miraculous feeding. He and his disciples jumped into a boat and began heading for the far shore of the lake. Let’s pick up the story there.
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."
They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread."
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" "Twelve," they replied.
"And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" They answered, "Seven."
He said to them, "Do you still not understand?" Mark 8:14-21
Jesus was trying to instruct his disciples about the negative influence of the Pharisees. They missed the point completely. Not only did they misunderstand about the bread, they still didn’t understand Jesus. Jesus’ words had to sting. Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
Those words hit home for me. I have been a believer most of my life. I have been a pastor for the past 30 years. Yet, there are still times that I just don’t get it. I read the Bible and the words seem foreign to me. I am often puzzling over bread, when Jesus wants to show me some spiritual truth. I am amazed how many times in the Gospels Jesus chides his disciples for being slow on the up-take. Time and time again, Jesus teaches the crowd with a parable, and as soon as the disciples can get Jesus alone, they plead with him to explain it to them. “We don’t get it, Jesus. What was that all about?”
I know how the disciples felt. Many times, when I read the Bible, I feel so dull. I can read the words, but I miss the meaning. I plead with Jesus to explain it to me. There are many times of enlightenment; many times when things suddenly become crystal clear. A passage that I have read a thousand times, suddenly comes alive. God opens my eyes to some insight that allows me to genuinely connect with the scriptures. Then the fog settles again.
I am so thankful that Jesus is patient with me, as He was with his disciples. He never gave up on them, even though they frustrated Him at times with their inability to comprehend. I am sure that I frustrate Jesus often. I am slow to learn the lessons that He wants to teach me, so He patiently tells me again and again, until the light goes on. I can almost hear Jesus’ words, Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
I find great comfort in the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 103.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
There are many things in our world that I just don’t fully understand. But, I know the One who understands all things, and I will put my trust in Him.