Exploring a Mystery

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In Acts 20:27 Paul told the Elders of the Ephesian church, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” It is because we desire to receive the whole counsel of God that we have set out to study our way through an entire book of the Bible. We want to hear all that God has to say and not just sound bites and snippets. When Bible teachers only talk about passages that interest them we are more likely to be getting their take on things, but when we set out to unpack an entire book of the Bible verse by verse then we find that God is allowed to speak. Some Bible teachers, like tour bus drivers, just hit the highlights. There are certain verses and stories in the Bible that are more heavily trafficked than others. A tour bus in Paris will take you to the palace in Versailles, the Eiffel tower, and the Louvre. But At the end of the day did you really see Paris?

Continuing our driving analogy, other Bible teachers might be reluctant to go off-roading. They avoid the difficult passages, the hard to understand, the controversial, messy, muddy, portions of scripture. When we commit to work our way verse by verse through a book of the Bible these can’t be sidestepped and there will be plenty of times where we find ourselves stretched, challenged and struggling to understand what God is saying in His Word.

This message will be one of those off-roading, muddy kind of messages. We’ll be studying John 12:27-51 together, which explains why so few people responded with belief to the things Jesus said and did by stating that “they could not believe” because God had “blinded their eyes and hardened their heart.” Why would God do that? Why would God call out to them to believe while simultaneously blinding their eyes and hardening their hearts so that they “could not?” In all honesty, that’s muddy to me, and I’m not sure I want to go bombing down in there. What if I get us all stuck?

Earlier this week I confessed to some friends that I was feeling a little intimidated by this passage. I am afraid I don’t understand it well enough to teach it or apply it in a hopeful way to our lives. However, maybe my analogy comparing a preacher to a driver is flawed. After all, you are not passively being transported by me as we open God’s Word together. That would not be fair to you. You are an engaged and active participant in our explorations of the Word. My job as a Bible teacher is not to smoothly chauffeur passengers through God’s Word, but to lead the way in our shared calling to be explorers and livers of the Word. Pastors are more like driver’s ed instructors. We are all learning how to handle our Bibles, and wrestle with the truths it contains. So as you settle in for this message bring your Bible and your tall boots. We’re going muddin’ together!