Yesterday I came across a quote by Richard Ganz that really jumped out to me. He is dealing with the frustration we often feel when we read the gospels. We read of Jesus’ disciples and see how time after time they just completely failed to understand who Jesus was and what he was up to. Ganz offers a biblical perspective:
We look back at the disciples, and we wonder, “What in the world was wrong with them? How could they not get it?” The reality is quite the opposite. We should ask instead, “How could they get it?” It is impossible. It is beyond comprehension. The Old Covenant sacrifices, as powerful a pointer as they were, had a limited purpose. Their purpose was simply to show us how even the most rational and beautiful picture of grace—a blood sacrifice for sin—falls flat in front of what Jesus actually did.
Jesus trained men who, because of their background, should have been ready for the great blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. They weren’t. They were still utterly incapable of “getting it” just from the facts. This is understandable. The ultimate fact is that it is absolutely impossible to come to an understanding of God’s grace just from an assessment of the facts.
There is nothing in human experience alone that can awaken a person to the full reality of God’s grace. What Jesus did for us, the grace that His life and death is for us, is eternally impossible to fully comprehend. The fact that people like us will live with God FOREVER is purely His gracious gift to us. Sadly, even though we know so much about grace, we continue to make obeying rules the high watermark of our lives, rather than grace.
The disciples did not catch on because they could not catch on. Even for these men, who walked and talked with Jesus, it took a supernatural awakening for them to see who Jesus was and to turn to him as Lord. In that way, their path was not a whole lot different from our own.