But (Jesus’ parents) did not understand what he said to them. Luke 2:50
I woke up especially early, got dressed, made myself a hot cup of coffee, kissed my sleeping wife on the cheek, and walked out into the pre-dawn morning. I remembered that the shore to the Sea of Galilee was about a hundred yards down from our hotel room and started walking that way. With my journal and Bible, I made my way down to the shore. I stopped and grabbed a plastic chair and continued.
I sat the chair down and opened my Bible to Luke chapter five where Jesus called his first disciples from a boat on the sea in front of me. I could hear the waves gently lap against the shore. The morning breeze rustled the tall reeds beside the shore. The air was warm and moist. The sun started to paint the eastern sky a pastel pink. It was a once in a lifetime moment.
After I read the story, I opened my journal and began to scribble the scene I just described to you when I felt a familiar irritating sting on my arm. I looked down and saw a mosquito swelling with my red blood.
And, honestly, my first thought was, “Really, Jesus? Did they dare bite you when you walked these very shores? Did you ever slap one and kill it? Or did you let it, and its kin, just poke you full of holes like a pin cushion? Why did you create these things?”
My irritation was small that morning but, if I’m being honest, my confusion about Jesus was real.
I have some confusion when it comes to Jesus. From mosquitos to tsunamis. From pain and suffering to the age of the universe. If the universe is really only 6,000 years old, why did he make it look so old that it confuses the scientific community? Does he really not want women to speak in Church?
Do you ever find yourself completely baffled by Jesus?
My wife, Lynette, recently applied for a teaching position in the very school she had a long-term sub assignment for ninety percent of the school year. She was very hopeful that because of her working with the team that would interview her and decide whether to invite her to work fulltime with them she might have a reasonable shot.
She interviewed and was turned down.
Not going to lie, that hurt her. It hurt me, too. I prayed that Jesus would give her that job, not so much for the job, but so that she would not feel the rejection from the very people that she worked side-by-side with for months and months.
I remember we both sat in her car and commiserated for about forty-five minutes. All kinds of questions floated to the surface of our conversation. Questions of identity for her. Questions of if God was punishing us. Questions of why God seemed to be withholding financial, healthcare, sense of purpose, and dignity from Lynette.
We were hurting.
It felt like Jesus was letting us down. Of course, our heads knew better. Of course, our history together with Jesus for nearly forty years would tell us differently. But our hearts were hurting in that red car in front of our house.
What do we do with this hurt? We keep putting our trust in the Jesus that confuses us. That’s what Lynette does, and that’s what I am going to do too.
I love the story where Jesus and the disciples are in the boat and a storm comes up threatening to swamp the boat and yet Jesus is sound asleep. They say, “Jesus, don’t you care that we are all going to die?”
Jesus rubs his sleepy eyes and groggily says, “Where’s your faith?”
One writer pointed out that they weren’t thinking clearly. They already knew enough about Jesus to know better than to be this afraid, but they weren’t using the faith that they already possessed. See, their premise was that if Jesus loved them, he wouldn’t let storms happen to them.
They should have known by this point in their walk with Jesus that he did love them. And, of course, if they don’t feel loved by Jesus then it can only mean that they are not loved by Jesus, right?
I am learning something my friend Timothy Moore told me years ago, “Feelings are damned liars. Enjoy them when you can, but never trust them.”
I find some comfort in the knowledge that I am not the only person that has ever been confused by God. Mary and Joseph were puzzled that twelve-year-old Jesus would linger in the Temple while they went home to Nazareth—pushing them into a panic. The disciples that spent 24/7 with Jesus for three years were so often confused by Jesus I don’t have time to list them here. Paul couldn’t understand why his infamous thorn in the side was never removed.
And if you look through the foliage of the Garden in Gethsemane you would see Jesus wrestling mightily with the thought of the cross and you might wonder if Jesus was baffled by God when he asked for the cup to pass from him.
When Mary was scolded by the twelve-year-old Jesus for wondering where he was and causing her to worry herself to death, Luke tells us,
“His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”
Mary reminds me that it is natural to be confused by Jesus. But she also teaches me that if I would treasure the Jesus that confuses me in my heart, he will grow inside me. And if I do that long enough in this life, then there will come a time when, perhaps, mosquitos will fly away from feasting on my blood singing,
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb