The story is told in the book of John about the time Jesus grossed his disciples out. He said something about not being a part of what he was doing unless they ate his body and drank his blood. For people who wouldn’t touch shrimp barbeque or BLT sandwiches, this was pretty offensive. Some of them left. They didn’t get it.
The ones who stayed didn’t get it either, but Peter, who was one of them, answered Jesus (who asked if they wanted to leave too), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Later, they understood the significance of “eating his body and drinking his blood” when they remembered the last supper where he offered them broken bread and wine and said, “This is my body. This is my blood.”
Jesus spoke the language of metaphor. That’s why his first miracle involved replacing the ceremonial cleansing water at the wedding in Cana with gallons and gallons of wine. Wine symbolized his blood which was shed to save people from their sins. But all these things became clear only in retrospect.
Children tend to be concrete literal thinkers and the disciples often thought like children. People often misunderstood the language of the Kingdom because, like children, their thinking was literal. God often speaks in symbolic pictures.
Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
His words came to life for the disciples later when Holy Spirit brought them to memory and interpreted them.
Sometimes the Lord will give us a puzzle piece and it does not make sense to us. Sometimes there is the temptation to try to make sense of it before we have the other pieces, but there is meant to be a certain amount of tension as we follow Jesus in faith, not understanding what on earth he is talking about.
Like Mary we treasure and ponder, but we don’t always know where this is all going. I think of Joseph who died before seeing the man he raised as his own son crucified and risen from the dead. I’m sure he knows now, but it must have been difficult at times.
In the chapter that comes in the middle of the discussion of the charisma, or gifts of the Spirit, Paul talks about living with only part of the picture.
For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect).
But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.
For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].
And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13: 10 – 13 Amplified)
So what do we do in the meantime, when we see only in part?
We have faith that He will not lead us astray.
We cooperate with Holy Spirit living in us in the development of our character that leads to hope that does not disappoint.
And when we don’t know what we are doing, we err on the side of love.
We love because He loved us first and He gives us the ability to extend to others the grace He extended to us.
Sometimes following Jesus means saying, in all humility, “I don’t know. But I have come to believe, and to know, that Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God and I choose to follow Him.”