Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Unfolding of His Word

I'm becoming increasingly aware of how God displays His glory only according to His timeline. He gives us understanding of Him only according to what He wants, when He wants, no sooner, no later. He will not show the fulness of His goodness to us before we are ready, and especially before we are seeking Him! And then He sometimes gives us more than we anticipate...sometimes He seems to unfold it much more slowly than we would have Him do.
We are studying the Gospel of Mark these days at our wonderful little church. It's clear in the study that Jesus is not giving His truth to people in such a way that they don't have to grapple with it a bit in order to make it their own. He wants us to seek Him, and He will respond fully then. He tells the demons not to tell who He is. He tells those He heals not to go announcing it everywhere, but to go see the priests, or whatever His will is at the time. It's surprising to me even though I have read this before; surprising in this American Christian culture that stresses the need to tell the entire gospel message at every opportunity, no matter how awkward it might be. I've never exactly understood this disparity, and in the past I believe I've sided more with the culture than with the Scriptures on this issue.
I remember in one church we had a Bible study where the teacher asked for questions, and I had asked why sometimes Jesus would tell people (or spirits) either to tell others or to be quiet about who He was and what He had done. The teacher did bring up my question and was just on the verge of giving his answer to it. However, Katie was a baby in the nursery at the time, and she started hollering in such a way that I could not see clear to stay there and listen to the answer, though people urged me to. I went to Katie and never did hear what our teacher had to say. Even though I asked others what his answer had been, I never found out. I think it was one of those things that God was holding for another time...such as just lately! Maybe the teacher's answer was misguided, and God protected me from that confusion. Maybe he was right on. I do not know.
A clarification regarding this question, from the Gospel of Mark, came about thanks to our Pastor Ken's latest sermon--that Jesus was clearly destined to be recognized as King, but kept suppressing it--why? Because He was to be publicly acknowledged as King only at His death--by the centurion, who said that surely He was the Son of God.
Why was He publicly acknowledged as King at His death? Why not in His life on earth? Why not especially after His resurrection, when by my thinking His whole ministry, suffering and sacrifice were fully validated or authenticated? This reminded me of when I had been in Bible Study Fellowship right after I became a new Christian. The lesson had to do with communion, and I was puzzled that it was a remembrance of His death, not of His resurrection! Why not His resurrection? Why His death? I asked the teaching leader, who was a gifted speaker and teacher, who expanded upon many of the Scriptures in what seemed to be a very clear and solid way. But when I asked her, she had no answer. I've asked a few people since then, and never gotten an answer then either. I asked our Pastor Ken, though, and he gave me John 12:23-26 to ponder, about a grain of wheat being buried and sprouting and producing a crop; it's basically about what Katie calls "dying to self"--that once we do that, we can be of use to Him. We need to die to self in this life, to be useful to Him in this life. We need constant reminding of Jesus' death, because we are so intricately embedded in these selfish, sinful...selves. We can't break free from them, and so we need to continually and repeatedly be retrained upon Jesus Christ. We need to remember His death for us, so that we can be coaxed to die to self for His Kingdom purposes, or we are just not any good at all. I'm still learning on it, and I gather we'll discuss it at our next lesson, but I'm making progress, I think. Finally! God has revealed two of my long-standing mysteries in this study of Mark already. I thought I'd be ready to learn them as a new Christian, and of course, I did "know" the importance of dying to self in other contexts, but this just sheds more light on the same thought, expands on it, makes it richer in illumination. Maybe I'll be better at breaking through this insistent old self as a result. I can hope and pray!
So Jesus is gradually unfolding His truth to me...a little more gradually in some ways than I would expect, but His timing is perfect. The way He's unfolding these things to me is so in keeping with the very Gospel we are studying. Who would have seen that coming? I should have! How good is that! It's marvelous to me. Hallelujah!
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

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