Misunderstanding Jesus Christ
By Mary Kroeger
Had we lived in Israel at the time of Jesus Christ's ministry on earth, how would we have responded or reacted to Him? We would have been amazed at all the miracles He performed! But what about the things He said and who He claimed to be? What would we think of someone who said that He is the truth, the way, the life - even is the resurrection? Also, He only received disciples on His strict terms! They would have to be willing to carry their cross, leave family, and only do what He told them to do. They could have no part in Him unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood! That sounded cannibalistic! Are we surprised that many stopped listening to Him and following Him at this point?
However, when people looked at His life, they were amazed! He spoke with authority, healed the sick, ate with sinners, overthrew the merchandizing tables in in the temple, performed miracles, multiplied the loaves and fishes, and even raised the dead! But when He said that God was His Father that was going too far! In their minds that was unacceptable!
They were caught in a dilemma! His teaching was not like that of the scribes and Pharisees. Since it was beyond their understanding it was unacceptable to them. Yet His life was beyond reproach! Would they believe Him because of the life that emanated from Him? Or would they judge Him according to their limited understanding? The claims He made about Himself were astounding! He looked normal, but was He? The miracles He performed were unheard of! But eating His flesh and drinking His blood? Impossible! His demands on those who wanted to follow Him were so strict! The rich young ruler would have to leave all his riches! The stakes were too high! How could He be the Messiah if He came with a sword to take away peace and to bring division in families?
We, too, may often wonder how our experiences line up with who Christ says He is. It says that He fulfills all our needs according to His riches in glory, yet we remain sick, hungry and hurting! So often we experience hurts and abuse! We face insurmountable challenges! Is this the wonderful life that has been promised us in Christ? How can our problems come out of a heart of love? Surely the serpent is in charge of them! Who is greater - the serpent or Christ? Do our problems come from the serpent and our prosperity from Christ? Has God given us the ability to chart our own life? If He has, then He is no longer sovereign. If He is sovereign, then why am I having all these problems?
So let's look at the scriptures for some answers. In Isaiah 55:8-9 we read, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Here God tells us that there are two ways of thinking - two ways of understanding.
God's way is a heavenly way; ours is earthly. God's way is the true way, for He is the truth; our way is earthly. Since the earthly is lower than the heavenly, it is not the truth, and therefore it is a lie! The earthly mind cannot understand the truth. So when Jesus spoke heavenly truth, the earthly, carnal mind of man could not, and cannot, understand it.
We misunderstand the words of Jesus when we only hear them with our natural ears. His words are spirit and are life, so they have to be understood spiritually! Christ's words, "You must eat My flesh," have to be understood spiritually! The natural mind interprets the flesh of Christ as natural body flesh. It does not think of the fact that there are different types of flesh even in the natural realm. There is the flesh of birds, animals, fish, etc. Jesus said that He is the truth, the life, the way and the resurrection. His flesh is a body of truth and life! It is in the unseen realm - the realm that is higher than the earthy, seen realm! As we receive the truth that Christ is, we are eating His flesh! We cannot receive truth if we are not willing to leave our earthy comfort zone of natural thinking.
What about drinking His blood? How can we drink His blood? In Lev. 17:11, the correct translation reads, "the soul is in the blood." We know that life is in the spirit! The soul is our sense of being - our will, our emotions and our thinking. As we receive Christ's sense of being - His will, His emotions, His understanding and thinking - we are drinking His blood!
It is very difficult for us to admit that our natural logical thinking can be wrong. Peter, the disciple of Jesus Christ, did not believe that he would ever deny Jesus. Yet he did - three times in one night! Peter was surprised, but Jesus was not. He knows us better than we know ourselves! We often need failures in order to convince us that our self-life and self-effort cannot achieve righteousness. We need failures to convince us that we need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us!
Christ only did what the Father showed Him to do! His spiritual ears were tuned to listen to God's voice, and His will was not activated by carnal thinking. God's will had become His will! Since He only did God's will, He never sinned!
We may wonder how our Father God, who is love, can let us experience so many difficulties? We can also ask, how could God stand seeing His only begotten Son die such a cruel death on the cross? Why did it have to be such a cruel death? Why did God not put limitations on the devil, as He did when Job was tested? Had God put limitations on what the devil could do to Jesus, the devil would have claimed superiority over Christ's ability to obey God. The devil had to be allowed to do his worst, in order to prove that life is stronger than death!
Why do we need challenges and trials? The carnal mind blames God and arouses emotions against God. Since Christ has been given all authority, He could change the situation. Why doesn't He? The carnal mind is a bottomless pit of lies. It tells us that God does not really love us, that the devil is stronger than God, that God does not want our best, etc. The fleshly mind is always against the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16)
We think we know our needs. We may know the needs of our physical body to some extent, but we can only know our spiritual needs when God reveals them to us. When a new car model is taken on a test run, it is taken over difficult terrain to reveal its strengths and its weaknesses. Our trials and challenges will also reveal both our strengths and our weaknesses. We need to learn that we can only overcome by faith in our living Savior! Our faith grows stronger as we learn to know Him better! This is evidenced by our growing obedience to God's directives as we face difficult situations. Our challenges have not hindered out growth. Instead, they have become stepping stones in our ascent into the very life of God! Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered, and this is the way we also learn obedience!
Humanity's thinking is in the death realm. It is interested in self-life - in its ego! It wants what it sees as being pleasurable - health, easy living, amusements, honor, fame and things! God's thinking is higher! God wants relationship, love and trust! He wants us to know Him! In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! When we acknowledge that He is our wisdom, we will believe Him even when we do not understand Him!
There is a big difference between knowing things about God and knowing Him!
I may know a lot about the Queen of England, but I do not know her. I do not have a relationship with her. There is no intimacy in knowing things about someone. God wants intimacy! In Christ we can have intimacy with Him who is love and knows all things! Therefore He can lead and direct us! To our great amazement, He can even change us into the very image of Christ! Trusting the leading of the Holy Spirit of truth will keep us from believing the devil's lies. Obedience to God's directives is activated by faith - not by our understanding. Many turned away from following Jesus Christ because they trusted their own understanding - the understanding that is nurtured by the lies of the devil.
Jesus never allowed His spiritual mind to be influenced by His human mind. He never lowered His standards! He never tried to make deals with people in order to get followers! If they did not want to accept His words, He let them go. He only turned to His disciples and asked if they too wanted to leave Him. Truth cannot be diminished or altered, for then it is no longer truth! The carnal mind of humanity does not want to face truth! It wants its lies to appear to be truth. If it fails, it still wants supremacy! Since the carnal mind won't change and is always against the Spirit, it has to be overcome!
How can it be overcome? Christ overcame it, so the victory is resident in His mind! Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ! (1 Cor. 2:16) Thinking with the mind of Christ looks hopeless to us because we do not believe that we are a new creation in Christ. We believe the lie, and think we are still sinners in Adam even after we have been born again! The devil delights in keeping us in the lie - in misunderstanding Christ!
The only way out of our dilemma is to believe Jesus Christ! This belief does not rest on trying to convince our natural mind to believe the truth. That mind CANNOT believe Christ! It is always against the Spirit! However the mind of Christ within us has faith! It has the faith to only believe God! "Without faith it is impossible to please God!" (Heb. 11:6)
Believing Christ overcomes the thoughts of the flesh!
Believing Him who is the truth overcomes the lies that had become our truth!
Believing Him is the victory that overcomes all our wrong thinking! Believing Him brings us into life! Believing Him brings us into intimacy and relationship with our wonderful Lord! Believing Him protects us from receiving the lies of the devil! Believing Him is everlasting life, for His life has nothing perishable in it - nor can it receive anything perishable!
Therefore it can never die! Victory does not depend on our understanding but on the faith that is ours in Christ! So let us not allow our lack of understanding to turn us away from Him.
Believing Him is the key to trusting Him in whatever situation we are in! He has promised that His grace is sufficient for all our needs! All His promises are yes in Christ! (2 Cor. 1:20) What an amazing Savior and Lord we have!