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I’m not really a quiet person. I’m a talker. When issues come up in the relationships of my life, I want to talk them out. Get everything out on the table, sort it out.
This desire for sharing, or maybe it’s just insecurity, extends to all my relationships to a degree. I want to know what other people think, and what they think of me personally.
Have you ever wanted to crawl into someone else’s mind? I imagine all of us, at one time or another, have desired to know what others were really thinking.
But imagine what would happen if God granted us the ability to know the minds of others. To know every thought passing through their brains.
At first it might be exciting peering into the thoughts of others. But before long, this “blessing” would become a curse. For we are all sinners. And many of the thoughts that cross our minds are ugly, hurtful, or unfair.
This Lent we’ve been meditating on things that Jesus didn’t have, that we enjoy. NOT knowing what others think is sometimes a tremendous blessing. But often, the bliss of not knowing was something Jesus did not have.
Take for example all the times that Jesus interacted with the religious elite of His day. The Pharisees. On the outside these men seemed pious and godly. Very concerned with observing God’s laws. But on the inside, their hearts were hard and dead.
Listen to this interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees found in Mark 3.
“1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him” (Mark 3:1-6 ESV).
Perhaps Jesus didn’t have to use divine knowledge to know what was in the Pharisees hearts here. He could tell by their silence. But there were other times when He miraculously read their inner thoughts, knowing exactly what they thought of Him.
How many times did Jesus perceive the thoughts of those around Him, that they disliked Him and refused His message? How hard was it for Jesus to love them anyway. To know that He was going to sacrifice so much for them, that He was going to suffer hell on the cross, for the sins of those who hated Him.
Maybe you’re wiser than me. Maybe you’ve never wanted to crawl into the mind of someone else. Maybe you’re content to know what is needed, and no more. When people want to spill their hearts to you, your first thought is, “Whoa! Too much information! I don’t need to know.”
But maybe you’d still like to know what the future will bring. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just didn’t know what was going to happen, and you wished that you didn’t have to wait to find out? You wished God would just give you a crystal ball so that you could know what was going to happen?
I imagine all of us, at one time or another, have desired to know what was coming in our own future.
But again, imagine for a moment what it would really be like if God granted your wish and laid your whole life out before you on timeline. Every struggle. Every pain. Every heartache. Every disappointment. And you could mark them well.
If we actually knew the hard things that were destined to come our way, that knowledge would be a curse. The anticipation of painful events would weigh on our minds, making a double tragedy of every bad situation. First we’d agonize over what we knew was coming, and then that pain would come. In effect, we’d suffer every trouble twice.
Jesus didn’t feel the bliss of not knowing when it came to many of the things He suffered. He knew that Peter, one of His closest friends, was going to passionately deny that he had anything to do with Jesus. Jesus knew that Judas, one of His other apostles, was going to sell Him out to His enemies, betray Him with a kiss, the sign of close friendship.
In Mark 14 it says,
“…Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same” (Mark 14:26-31 ESV)
In John 6 we hear Jesus say,
“’…Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.’ 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him” (John 6:70 ESV).
How it must have weighed on Jesus’ heart to know these things ahead of time, and yet be unable to do anything about them. He must be betrayed. The disciples would abandon Him. Peter would deny Him.
And as the day of His crucifixion drew near, Jesus’ heart became more and more filled with tension, and a deep sorrow. On the night when Jesus was to be betrayed, He took His disciples out to a special garden that they knew in order to pray there. In Matthew 26 we read,
“37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:37-39 ESV).
Luke adds this detail,
“44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 ESV).
Throughout history, when people have perceived that great disgrace or suffering was coming their way, they have often been moved to commit suicide to escape it. Others have fled from whatever burden was descending on them, even if it meant that people they loved would suffer because of their cowardice. Many who have remained to face their fears and bear their responsibilities have found them to be too much, and have suffered mental breakdown when facing great stress.
A normal person in Jesus’ shoes would have been broken. But He endured. Though driven to the point of death by sorrow over all that He was to suffer in the place of sinners, though sweating great drops of blood, Jesus remained to shoulder our burden. It was as if He suffered everything for us – twice.
This is love. To know the evil hearts of others, and to still reach out to them. This is love. To know the immeasurable pain that was coming, and to remain on that path to finish the task of redeeming sinners. This is love.
If you doubt that Jesus loves you, bear in mind that He knows all your faults and failings, knows all your hidden sins. And yet He calls out for you to trust in Him through the Gospel. If you doubt that Jesus loves you, bear in mind that knew the suffering that your sins had earned, and He stepped in the gap so that suffering would not reach you. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
We aught to strive to know each other, so that we can help bear each other’s burdens. But we also aught to appreciate NOT knowing the full extent of the evil which passes through the hearts of others. And we should appreciate the fact that Jesus DID know, and loved us all the same.
Sometimes knowing what trials are coming our way can help us to prepare for them. But there are plenty of times when NOT knowing what suffering will touch us is a blessing. But we should remember that this was a luxury that Jesus did not have. He knew what suffering was coming His way, and He went to the cross for us anyway.
As Christians we can find comfort that we will never suffer to the extent that Jesus did. Not even close. He suffered the wrath of God that was stored up because of our sins. Now that wrath is gone. In Christ, we can rest, knowing that the cup of God’s anger over our sins was drained when our Savior died.
And furthermore, God promises His followers that whatever trials come in life, they will not be too much for us because He will lend His shoulder to bear them. All who trust in Christ, rest in Christ. We know that no matter what evil things Satan throws our way, God will make that evil serve to bless us. God promises those who trust in Christ that He will guard us, protect us, and finally take us away from all suffering when He transports us to His side in heaven.
Ignorance is bliss.
Sometimes this is true when it comes to our neighbors. Sometimes this is true when it comes to our future.
But when it comes to God, we are tremendously blessed to know what He thinks of us. To know that because of Christ, He no longer sees our sins. Just like God promised in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah,
“…I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34 ESV).
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.