Have you ever struggled to understand Jesus? Maybe you read something in the gospels that didn’t make sense to you. Perhaps you’re going through an experience that is very difficult and perplexing, causing you to question Jesus. There are seasons in our lives that can be very challenging, when we ask why, look for purposes, try to discover meaning or endeavor to cobble together value from hardships or horrific events.
So how do we look at our modern living and connect it with Jesus? When I read the gospels, I’m encouraged and inspired by much of Jesus’ words and actions. At the same time, I’m often perplexed by His behaviors, instructions and attitudes. For example, Jesus attracts me in John 8:1-11 when He blatantly forgives the woman caught in adultery and accused by the Pharisees, seeking to trap Jesus and kill her. On the other hand, I’m very disturbed by Jesus calling a Canaanite woman a dog in Matthew 15:21-28 when she’s requesting His help to heal her daughter.
It’s also possible that Jesus’ disciples didn’t totally understand Jesus, nor did they always agree with His actions or words. For example, in Matthew 16:21-23 when Jesus told His disciples that He was going to be killed by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, Peter rebuked Jesus. To which Jesus replied with the final answer to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (NIV)
Additionally, we see Peter struggle again to absorb Jesus’ words for practical application in Gethsemane. I say this because Jesus tells His disciples at the Last Supper to get swords in Luke 22:36-38. Upon having a sword, Peter proceeds to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in Gethsemane. Jesus tells His disciples to stop and heals the man’s ear in Luke 22:51.
When I look at these discrepancies, I find it difficult reconcile what can seem to be Jesus’ conflicting actions and words.
Something that I’ve thought about lately is accentuating Jesus’ principles and His core teachings, along with behaviors He exhibits repeatedly over the course of His physical existence. In contrast, when I drill down on some of the specifics with Jesus, it’s possible that I find myself in the Pharisee trap where they struggled with lots of Jesus’ specific behaviors. The Pharisees struggled with the particulars with Jesus but seemed to entirely miss the principles Jesus was living, demonstrating and teaching.
To this end, we would be wise to look at some essential principles from Jesus, as we endeavor with Holy Spirit’s help, to live more and more aligned with Jesus in words, actions, values, outlook and attitudes.
Here are some core principles from Jesus that we would be wise to absorb and apply:
- Jesus is Sovereign regardless of what we understand and no matter if we disagree with Him. Jesus most fully demonstrates surrendering to God’s sovereignty in Gethsemane when He tells the Father, “Not my will be done but Yours” (Luke 22:42).
- Jesus repeatedly accentuates genuine love as His endgame and what our triune God requests from us: Love God, love people and love ourselves.
- Nothing is impossible with God: Jesus demonstrates this innumerable times with His miracles, resurrections, provisions, healings, etc.
Let’s allow the principles Jesus lived to be the guiding beacons for our daily living and decisions!