Thursday, March 13, 2008

"He meant to pass by them..."

Photo by Brian - Progressive Spin
Sometimes the Bible says things that just make your head spin. I am convinced by Scripture that God "works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11). He is large and in charge.

And he became a man. He continued to rule over nature (Mark 4:35-41), to cast out demons (Mark 5:1-20), and to heal the sick (Mark 5:21-43), and yet he imposed some limits on his power and knowledge.

Mark 6:48 is a prime example of this. Jesus, having sent his disciples on across the Sea of Galilee, decided to walk to meet them. But he didn't want to walk around the lake, he just decided to walk across it. And he meant to pass by them. He was going to just walk on by during the storm and greet them on the other side.

Here's my question: if God (Jesus) intended to do something, but didn't, how do I reconcile this with the facts that I know about God from other passages in the Bible? Like the fact that God "does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth" (Daniel 4:35). If Jesus intended to pass by them, what prevented him from doing so?

If the Bible had simply said that Jesus intended to prove his deity (once again) to his disciples by walking on the water right up to the boat and joining his disciples, this passage would be much easier to understand. Or he could have passed by them without being seen and greeted them on the other side, and they would have been amazed by how he beat them across the sea.

I think this passage reveals a.) something about the relationship that Jesus, the God-man, had with God the Father, and b.) a behind the scenes picture about how God sometimes works. First, we see that Jesus intended to pass by them, but that was not in God the Father's ultimate plan. The God-man, who never sinned, planned one course of action, yet yielded to God the Father's sovereign providence without sin. Seriously, this is making my head hurt. So we, too, may be perfectly obedient while following one course of action, and God may redirect us.

Second, we see that Jesus used supernatural means to accomplish his purposes, even in mundane things like travel. This is not the first time someone traveled supernaturally. Elijah traveled for 40 days without food or water (1 Kings 19). Philip was carried supernaturally from the Ethiopian Eunuch to Azotus without knowing what had happened to him (Acts 8).

All we are left with is wonder and amazement at how God works in this world.

~ Todd ~

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