Recently I was reading Luke 9 and I noticed a distinct contrast between what the disciples said and did in the first half of the chapter and in the second. In the beginning of Luke 9:
- The twelve disciples were sent out by Jesus, successfully “bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.”
- They witnessed the feeding of the five thousand.
- Peter declared Jesus was the Messiah of God.
- Several witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain.
But, interestingly, after all that, the Luke 9 account takes a turn. Here is Luke 9:37-50:
37 The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38 A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child. 39 An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone. 40 I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 41 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.” 42 As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil[h] spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. 43 Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.
While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.”45 But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
46 Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. 48 Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” 49 John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.” 50 But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”
Mr. Christopher spoke at the English Language Congregation (ELC) recently and said when God calls you, his will will take you into situations unexpected, inadequate, and incomprehensible.
Keith and I looked at each other often during the sermon.
Yes, God’s will has put us in such situations. Unexpected, definitely. We were not looking to move or change our situation. Then God asked us to move across the world to Bahrain. Unexpected? Yes.
When Mr. Christopher got to inadequate, it really resonated. In my life I tend to be a proud person who likes to be adequate and effective. God has shown me, like the disciples, that there are many things that I cannot do except through his power at work in me.
First, look at the disciples in just this one short passage. Were they inadequate for what God was requiring of them? Definitely! In just this passage alone:
- they couldn’t do it
- they didn’t know
- they couldn’t understand
- they were afraid to ask
- they strived to be put on a pedestal as the “greatest”
- they disallowed other disciples’ good work
The disciples were inadequate, rough hewn, unexpected choices. Jesus called them to follow him, though. He’s done the same to inadequate me.
- I had never been out of North America when I was called to leave everything and move to Bahrain.
- I knew nothing about the Arab culture or living in the Middle East.
- I, so far, have never learned a second language.
- I am humbled at being asked to help lead church school at the ELC.
- I am inexperienced and too old to teach kindergarten, yet God called me to that position.
- My faith seems like toddler faith compared to so many of the saints I’ve met here.
I am inadequate for the tasks set before me, but so were the disciples.
And finally, God’s will puts us in situations that are incomprehensible. Especially in the questioning times, I’m reminded of Job when God asked him: “Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.” (Job 38:18)
No, God, I haven’t. I can’t really tell you anything. I’ll be quiet now. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)
I found it interesting that Mr. Christopher said that God’s will WILL (not may or might) take you into situations that are unexpected, that you are inadequate for, and that you humanly can not comprehend.
What impossibility is God calling us to be and do today?