“But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” Luke 18:34
What we can’t (yet) know
As a father, I have at times tried to explain something to my children or had them try and explain something to me with the result that I say, “You don’t understand.” There is something beyond the mere words and information being conveyed that they don’t grasp. Of course, I would never want to speak to them about something which I knew beforehand they couldn’t get.
Yet Jesus seems to have often done just that with his disciples. In speaking of his death and resurrection, Jesus was communicating things or truth he already knew his disciples couldn’t grasp. At least not quite yet. But, still, why would Jesus tell the disciples things they would not or could not understand?
Because in time they would come to understand and “remember” what Jesus had said. It was the coming and abiding Holy Spirit, who would descend as Jesus ascended after his resurrection, that would open the disciples hearts and minds to understand what had been said and, as a result, to know and to be known by God through Jesus Christ.
It is in the knowing that they were changed. It is in the knowing that they understood what had happened.
But here’s something important to note. Although what Jesus said was said prior to their understanding of it, their lack of understanding what he meant didn’t change or impede who Jesus was or what he came to do. The Truth was Truth even in their unknowing.
But when they came to know The Truth, they were impacted, changed, transformed by that Truth. The Truth didn’t become Truth the moment they understood and believed it. It was Truth prior to, in the beginning, and at the end of it all.
A math problem is true even when it is beyond a student’s comprehension of it. But when that student “gets it” and grows in knowledge and understanding and comes to grasp and make sense of that problem, the truth changes them. But it is in the knowing.
What God always knows
In our Sunday morning services we usually pray for a local church and its pastor. Now when I pray publicly for that pastor in our 9:00 am service, I am reasonably certain my prayer is being offered before that congregation has gathered and that pastor has preached. I feel confident that God has enough time to answer my prayer.
But something interesting happens in our 11:00 am service. I am reasonably certain that my prayer for that congregation and pastor is being offered after they have met. So should I pray? Does it make sense to pray for something that has already happened? And assume that I get a report that God moved in that congregation that morning, do I assume it was because we prayed before and not after they met? Should I assume our 11:00 am prayers were, or are, pointless?
When Jesus speaks to the disciples of his impending death and resurrection, he knows that it is going to happen and, in a mysterious way, that it was already going to happen. How so? Jesus was the lamb to be sacrificed before the foundation of the world for the world and in the world (Revelation 13:8; John 3:16; Acts 2 :23-24; Galatians 4:4-7).
God is eternal and isn’t limited to seeing humanity and history as a moving or passing procession of minutes, hours, days, and years. He sees all things at once. He know all things at once. He is over all things at once. So when God hears his people praying at whatever point inside time, he is listening to, answering, and acting through those prayers in a manner that is for him outside of, even prior to, time.
What knowing will do
We will never know everything that God is doing everywhere on the earth. But we pray all the same. However, we will come to know some of what he does right where we live. And it is in the knowing that God sees, hears, and answers us that our hearts are changed, encouraged, humbled, and filled.
We rejoice in the unknowing—when we don’t and can’t know—still knowing that God is for us like a good father. But we rejoice all the more in the knowing: when God makes known to us his actions towards us as our good and loving heavenly Father. In these moments, through his actions, he is above all making himself known to us, and in our knowing and being known, changing us forever.
Our knowing doesn’t change who God is or what He does. It changes us.