It’s often been said that your own home is the most difficult place to be a Christian. That’s because there’s no pretending there. Outside the home – with friends and work colleagues – you might be able to do a good job of hiding your weaknesses and besetting sins, but in your own home, with the people who know you best, that’s a lot harder.
I sometimes wonder what my kids will say about me at my funeral. They’ve definitely seen the truth about me, warts and all; they know my strengths, and they know my weaknesses as well. And I wonder how they’ll feel when they hear what other people, who maybe don’t know me so well, will have to say. Will they perhaps find themselves thinking, “Well, yes, I can see how you would believe that about my Dad, but then, you don’t know the whole story, do you?”
Maybe this illustration can give us some insight into what it felt like to be Jesus, walking around on the earth, hearing people saying things about God, and thinking to himself, “Well, yes, I can see why you might believe that, but you don’t know the whole story, do you?” Because of course Jesus, the Son of God, came to live among us to ‘show us the Father’ – to share the truth about God with human beings. And not just with any human beings: with God’s chosen people Israel, who had been learning about God’s ways for over a thousand years.
Was Jesus perhaps surprised by their lack of interest in the message he brought? It seems that he was. In Matthew 11:21 he reflects back on some of the cities in Galilee where he has been preaching and healing the sick. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes”. In other words, “If I did things like this among the pagan nations, they’d be turning to God by the thousands! So how come you folks don’t seem to be interested? How come you’re snoring through the whole thing?”
The problem, of course, was that God’s people didn’t think they needed any help learning about God, and they certainly didn’t need it from an amateur! Who did he think he was, telling them about God? They’d been studying the Torah all their lives, and they knew all the explanations the rabbis had given down through the centuries applying each general law to specific situations. And then along comes Jesus, an uneducated upstart with a strong Galilean accent, and presumes to instruct them about God. They must have thought, “Go away to rabbinical school for a decade, Jesus; then when you come back, we’ll talk!”
But Jesus’ knowledge of God came from a completely different source. Jesus had learned about God the way a son learns about his father – by living with him, by watching him at work and at play, by imitating him and learning to be like him. He was like an instinctive musician with perfect pitch, walking around among people who knew all about the history of music, but were entirely tone deaf themselves.
Think about how frustrating this must have been sometimes for Jesus! I’m a musician myself, and I have a pretty good ear as well. I can tell when my guitar is in tune or out of tune, even when no one else can hear it; I can tell when a singer is bang on, or flat or sharp. This isn’t something I’ve achieved by hard work, so I can’t take any credit for it; it’s something I was born with. And I often forget that other people don’t have it. It surprises me that they can’t hear the things that I can hear.
That must have been what it was like for Jesus to be walking around on this earth. We talk about people taking time to ‘discover who they are’. For Jesus, part of that process involved discovering that other people didn’t have the same kind of intimate knowledge of God that he had. There are some things about a father that only his child can know.
Read the rest here.