Many people have never lived a day without knowing the name of Jesus. They grew up with the hymns and knowing the gospels. Others have taken their knowledge of the Savior further through intensive study, Bible school, or even seminary.
Although many years of knowing Christ often carry with them the danger of familiarity—i.e. complacency—not everyone falls prey to the threat. There is, in fact, another danger.
All of Jesus’ disciples grew up knowing their Bibles. They lived in anticipation of the Messiah. And finally, they had found Him.
- By the time Jesus brought His disciples to Bethsaida that day, they had followed Him for more than two years.
- They carried with them the admiration of the crowds.
- They were leaders, promised by Christ to reign with Him.
What else was there to gain? They had gone as high as they could. Many of us might slip into the same error of thinking.
For the faithful follower of Jesus, there is another danger beyond complacency.
Back to Bethsaida
This wasn’t the first time Jesus took the disciples to Bethsaida. He had performed a miracle thereabouts by multiplying the fish and loaves for thousands to eat. As Jesus and His men approached the area where this miracle had occurred, Jesus asked them a question:
Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? — Mark 8:17-18
Notice how Jesus linked physical sight with understanding?
This should have been a clue when someone brought a blind man to Jesus at Bethsaida. The Lord healed the man—but not all at once (Mark 8:22-26).
Strange, but why did Jesus heal the blind man in stages?
- Was Jesus having an off day?
- Was the blind man a difficult case?
- Was Jesus losing His power?
No. None of these. The answer lies in the questions Jesus had asked the disciples right before the miracle. Here they are again:
Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? — Mark 8:17-18
Jesus’ intended His healing of the blind man to open the eyes of the disciples. Jesus gave sight to the blind man in stages to teach His disciples that their understanding would come in stages.
It’s the same with us.
I Can See Clearly Now
Immediately after the lesson at Bethsaida, Jesus took the twelve north to Caesarea Philippi where He took their understanding of Him to a new level.
- In Jesus’ well-known conversation with His disciples, He asked them who they thought He was.
- Peter spoke for the group when He answered, “You are the Christ.”
- Jesus took their understanding of the Christ to a new level when He revealed that He would die in Jerusalem and then rise again.
Just as the blind man saw in stages, and as the disciples learned about Jesus in stages, so you and I have much to learn about the one to whom we have trusted our eternal destiny.
A God who is infinite has to reveal Himself in ways we can understand.
A Danger of Knowing Jesus
For those of us who have known Jesus all our lives—those who know a lot about Jesus—Peter’s response shows us a danger. After Jesus revealed more about Himself (namely, that He would die), Peter again spoke for the group and replied, “No, Lord, this will never happen to you!”
Jesus responded to Peter with words we also should consider:
You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s. — Mark 8:33
We limit our understanding of Jesus when we require Him to act within the limitations of our understanding. When God allows struggles in your life—they have not come to torment you but to teach you. The hard time you’re going through may be the only way God can give you a fuller understanding of who He is.
To deepen your understanding of Jesus, set your mind on God’s interests above your own.
After all, aren’t God’s interests are always in our best interests?
Tell me what you think: How has God used difficulties to teach you about Him? To leave a comment, just click here.