Do you think it’s possible to do great things for God and yet be completely unaware of what God is doing? To be in on something big and not even realize it? To see everything, but see nothing at all?
Until recently, my answer might have been “no.” But I had the disciples all wrong . . .
Surely people who saw Jesus with their own eyes would get it. If they followed him that closely and spent that much time with him, surely they’d understand. When Jesus sent them out to serve, and preach, and heal, it was because they had the inside scoop, right? They were thinking properly, had all the right theology, and were totally equipped for the task.
Okay, then why were they shocked when Jesus calmed the storm? For the second time in just days.
And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded. Mark 6:51
Why did they act so clueless when Jesus told a parable?
His disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding?” 7:17-18
Why did they think they were in such a predicament when they had no food for four thousand people? They had just watched him feed five thousand people . . .
And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 8:4
And then only hours after seven baskets of leftovers were gathered . . .
And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 8:16
Eventually, Jesus told them about his impending suffering and resurrection. And after the second explanation . . .
So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 9:10
After the third explanation . . .
They did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 9:32
Okay, so they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand. If they had the inside scoop, they didn’t realize it. They weren’t thinking properly, they didn’t have all the right theology, and they weren’t totally equipped for the task.
And yet Jesus sent them out on their own and gave them authority. And these distracted, spaced-out guys with a severe case of short-term memory loss preached the gospel, cast out demons, and healed people.
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.
And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
I’ll have to admit, I’m taken aback by this. I’m surprised that the disciples were so blind, and I’m really surprised Jesus gave such undiscerning people so much power and authority.
Lesson #1: God sometimes calls the blind to lead the blind – perhaps because, when he uses clueless, unlikely people, the true Source of power becomes quite clear.
Lesson #2: How grave the danger of familiarity. These were Jesus’ closest followers. So close and yet so far.
But surely one day all the parables and miracles would make sense. Surely one day they would look at their Leader with eyes of recognition and understanding.
Maybe they just needed to see the empty tomb.
Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
Then again . . .
[image credit: dndon.info]