Have you ever read the Bible and had a hard time understanding it?
Do not worry. You are in good company.
At times, Jesus’ own disciples had a hard time understanding what He was saying. One of those occasions is in John 6 where Jesus invited them to eat His flesh and drink His blood if they wanted eternal life. He was using a physical analogy to teach a spiritual truth, but people were confused. John 6:60-61 reports their responses saying, “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?”
Did you catch that? It was a “hard saying” to which some people took “offense”. In this, we see that there are four reasons the Bible can be hard to understand.
- Hard words produce soft people, and soft words produce hard people. In this scene, some of those who heard Jesus had hard hearts. They wanted him to keep making water into wine, handing out free bread, and healing people. Basically, they wanted a lifelong party where Jesus picked up the tab. So, Jesus gave them some hard words to soften up their hearts.
- The Word of God can be offensive. Once in a while, God reminds us that He has the right to offend us with the truth. After all, we offend Him all the time and He endures it lovingly.
- The Word of God cannot be understood apart from the Spirit of God. In this section, Jesus says in John 6:63, “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.” The Word of God can only be rightly understood by those who have the Holy Spirit open their understanding, which means that many will not understand it.
- The Word of God melts ice and hardens clay. Sometimes, God pushes to reveal our hearts. The old Puritans were fond of saying that the same sun that melts the ice also hardens the clay. Under the scorching heat of Jesus’ words, some of the disciples such as Peter had their heart melt, and others such as Judas harden. John 6:68-70 says “You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.
How is your heart toward the Lord right now?