Tag: confusing

Is it Easter or Christmas?

Is it Easter or Christmas?

‘While everyone was wondering about all that Jesus did, He said to His followers, “Don’t forget what I tell you now: The Son of Man will be handed over to people.” But the followers did not understand what this meant; the meaning was hidden from them so they could not understand. But they were afraid to ask Jesus about it.’ – Luke 9:43b-45

I am frequently puzzled by the contrast of all the wondrous things I read and hear about Jesus doing, both in the bible and in the world today, and the bad things and the seemingly, unanswered prayers. This must have been how the disciples felt too. They had seen and heard the amazing things that Jesus was doing, but they were held back by their doubts and by their confusion around the things He was saying with regards to His future, and what that meant for them.

I am very curious, and am known to ask more questions than the average 4 year old in a day (my parent are thankful for Alexa for this reason!). I struggle with the not-knowing but God is a God of mystery. Sometimes, because it’s best for us not to understand, sometimes, He uses the mystery to grow our faith, sometimes, we just have to wait and sometimes, it’s too big and complicated for us to understand.

Although we can feel confused and alone in working out what is happening around us, God hasn’t abandoned us, expecting us to struggle with our questions alone. Jesus knew the disciples wouldn’t fully be able to grasp what was about to happen, but He kept giving them clues along the way. To us, these clues can sound really obvious, but that’s only because of what we know. If the disciples had retrospect, I am sure they would understand it too, but that’s not how it works.

Sometimes I hear or read something, and it helps me make sense of a particular situation, or come to terms with not knowing why I can’t find the answer. I believe that this is where God is getting involved by sending clues my way. It’s down to me to accept that, just like the disciples, I might not understand right now but maybe one day, I will. Once Jesus rose from the dead and showed Himself to them, the disciples understood what had happened, but they had to wait for that day to come around.

When he was writing this book, Luke included some of the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples prior to His death and resurrection. These must have recalled by individuals after the event so they could be written down for us to read. I can just imagine Peter turning to Luke and saying, “Oh yeah, there was that time He said He was going to die and come back again, but at the time, I had no idea what He was going on about! Oops.”

It’s okay to be confused by everything that is happening – the good and the bad, and its okay to not know the answers. If you need to know more, ask God, and He will help you make sense of the things you need to know, and settle your mind on things you don’t need to know, at least for the time being. Maybe one day, like the disciples, you will look back and it will all make sense.

Confusing parables?!

Confusing parables?!

Luke 5:33-39

Although this passage is displayed in the bible as 1 section, it consists of 3 parables, told by Jesus in quick succession. Parables, as you may know, were stories told by Jesus to help make an inconceivable concept more imaginable in the minds of the people at the time. Jesus used common, day to day people, items and events to help make the stories relevant and easy to understand, but if they were clear to the people of the time, sometimes, that means they are not so straight forward for us today, as we are outside of that time, place, and cultural and societal set up.

The first story in this passage refers to the friends of a bridegroom who are being asked to fast but won’t until the bridegroom has gone. There is no more explanation than that which is maybe why we are given the other 2 parables to help us understand each of the other ones in a context.

The second parable is about an old coat which is patched up with part of a new coat, leaving the new coat damaged and incomplete and the old coat, looking odd because the patch doesn’t match the new coat style/ colour/ pattern.

The final parable here is about wine being poured into wineskins. Jesus tells the people that it would be wrong to pour new wine into old skins because they would break and the wine would leak out and be wasted. He goes on to say that no one who tries the old wine (the good stuff!), wants to drink the not so nice wine after. We would always choose the better quality, better tasting wine over a not so nice one.

Now to solve the cryptic messages. First off, the bridegroom story. This is a bit of a mystery. It doesn’t seem to connect with the other parables and it has confused theologians and historians for years with no one being sure what its intended purpose was then or for us today.

Grace Commentary have written an extended version of this blog post and in that, they explain what they believe the message is behind this parable:
‘ Jesus is not opposed to fasting in general, but fasting for his disciples at the present time. Fasting is a sign that a person is dissatisfied with the way their life and world is headed. It is a way of signifying an eschatological hope that God will restore righteousness and justice on the earth, and from a Jewish perspective, send the Messiah to do so (Green 1997:249). But for the disciples of Jesus, that which is hoped for in fasting—the Messiah—is already there. So there is no need for them to fast.’ Although this is a helpful reflection, it doesn’t connect this parable with the other two very obviously, which I believe was Jesus intended purpose of telling 3 stories together.

The other two parables have a similar thread running through them. They talk about the importance of newness and not spoiling new things with old – don’t ruin a new coat to fix an old one and don’t waste good wine by allowing it be stored in old wineskins. It is believed that the new coat and new wine represent Jesus, and the old coat and wineskins represent the old way of thinking, the old laws and set up. Jesus has come to get rid of those and replace them with new ways of living for God. No more animal sacrifices or ritualistic behaviours required!

I encourage you to read more into this passage if you have time. Check out what other writers have found out or believe about the purpose for the parables and their intended meanings. If you find out something new or different, I would love for you to share it with me in the comments below!