Beyond Our Imagination
Although God has given us great creativity, we cannot understand things that are totally outside our experience. The words of Jesus about Him coming down from heaven ... raising believers from the dead ... eating His flesh and drinking His blood ... simply didn't make sense to the disciples (John 6:35-40). Their reaction was to say that it was too hard to think about it, outside of their reach, and to grumble. But Jesus diagnosed the problem in their heart - they were offended and could not move on.
The disciples wanted a simple route to glory – to sit at Jesus’ side when He reigned in Jerusalem as King (Mark 10:35). The talk of eternity and heaven was an unnecessary complication, and suffering was far from their thinking. The idea that His body would be torn and His blood would be spilt was deeply upsetting. The concept of Jesus ascending to the Father was also offensive because they did not want Him to leave. And if He was to return to His rightful place in heaven, then Jesus must be God living amongst them - which was too awesome to contemplate.
They could not imagine it, so Jesus had to explain it. He knew that they could never grasp it, but He gave them reliable information about things they had never seen – which would make sense later when the Holy Spirit would enable them to understand (John 16:12-15).
Human beings love to shrink the world to the limit of their imagination. Our sinful nature automatically creates gods in our own image and tries to control our circumstances by our own power. That is why many people find the gospel so offensive and try to reduce Jesus to an ordinary man who they can manipulate. Human pride is also offended when we realise that we cannot understand everything and that the only way forward is to put our trust in Jesus, who does. So, when God gives us faith to believe in Jesus, what used to obstruct us becomes a straight way forward. Do not be surprised when unbelievers cannot imagine what they have never seen; but do not leave them there. Let them read the words of Jesus and encourage them to trust Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life – the only One who can bring people into God’s presence for eternity (John 14:1-6).
© Dr Paul Adams