“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
If you had been a reporter in Jesus’ day and were assigned to “cover” his ministry, what do you think you would write? Apparently, Jesus had plenty of followers, everyday people who knew life unvarnished—people with financial stresses, illnesses and death, relational challenges. They were people just like us. Even the rich folks knew to call on Jesus when they needed help. You could write about these responses to Jesus.
It seems that the people who had the most trouble with Jesus were those who were the professionals who were insulated by layers of religion and tradition—the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees. They were distressed because he did things like eating while others fasted (Matt. 9:14), repeatedly broke the Sabbath (John 5, Matt. 12…), caused chaos in the Temple*, claimed to be God’s Son (John 6, 10, 14…), forgave sin (Matt. 9, Luke 7), and was generally a trial to them. You’d get a whole different slant from this group. So what would you write?
If we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the whys and hows and perceived inconsistencies in the Bible—according to the pros—we will miss the whole picture. Yes, God is in the details, but in obsessing with the minutiae, we miss the majesty and the genius of what God is DOING. In “breaking the Sabbath” he demonstrates his lordship OVER the Sabbath; in cleansing the Temple he underscores the holiness and purpose of God’s House; with proclaiming himself like his Father he reveals the character of a God few have ever known; in forgiving sin, he brings hope that our unrighteousness will be covered by his righteousness; and so on.
Rather than looking for inaccuracies or inconsistencies or being thrown off by perceived errors in the text—or even in our own lives when God doesn’t manifest himself as we expect—we can choose to focus on the big picture and look to see what God is DOING. We can write a story that brings redemption rather than analysis, that sees a God at work loving and healing and saving his people.
* Even the writers of the Gospels don’t agree as to the timing of the cleansing of the Temple.
Sweet Father, thank you for your patience with us when we want to put you into our tiny box of understanding. Push us to allow you to be God and remind us again that we are not. Thank you again. AMEN.