In the moment described here, Peter passed the mystery test. You and I, and every soul who desires to follow Jesus, will go through the same test. Our response to it is critical.
What do I mean by the mystery test? To provide some context for this story out of John’s gospel, Jesus had just offended a bunch of people. He had made the provocative suggestion that eating His body and drinking His blood was the way to eternal life. This proclamation seemed so scandalous that many who had been following Him turned away. Many of those in the crowd had turned up, simply hoping for another free lunch (He had just provided one the day before.) Unable to stomach such an incomprehensible teaching, they left, grumbling to each other.
Then Jesus turned to His twelve disciples and asked searchingly if they were thinking of leaving too. This was the mystery test. Would they be willing to follow Him even when He made Himself almost impossible to understand? Even when His actions and instructions offended their sensibilities?
They passed the test. Peter spoke for them all when he answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Even though they could not understand His words, they knew Who it was that had spoken them. They had come to know how trustworthy He was, how perfectly pure and upright His heart. There was no shadow of turning in Him, no darkness whatsoever. They chose trust in Him over the “right” to understand.
You and I will have moments like these with God. Moments when His decisions and dealings are incomprehensible to us. Moments when His movements seem to go against our sense of what is right and fair. Moments when He reserves the right to be God without explaining Himself. Moments… when He asks for our blind trust.
In those moments, when God’s actions don’t match our expectations, we find out what is really in our hearts. Are we in it with Him for the “free lunch?” For what we can get out of following Him? Or is our heart set on being His disciple, no matter what the cost? In those moments, His purifying fire brings the impurities to the surface of our souls. In those moments, we, too, can choose to turn away, grumbling. Or we can allow Him to purify us in a deeper way. We can fall at His feet and cry out, “To whom else would I go? You have the words of eternal life!”
If we choose the latter, we will be rewarded in ways that go beyond our imagination. When we trust Him with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding, we pass the mystery test. How this enraptures God’s heart, when we cling to Him in surrender during the hardest of life’s moments!
As we walk with Him, He will reveal more and more of His enigmas to us. We will continually grow in our understanding of His ways. However, we will find that there will always be those “secret things” that belong only to Him. The element of mystery never goes away. From now until He takes us home, He will call us to live not by sight, but by faith. The longer we do, the more we will discover that this is the only way to truly live! How glorious and liberating is a true walk of faith!
If you have an extra few minutes, enjoy this profound song on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgWOcYpHm0o
Have you gone through the mystery test? If so, what are your observations of its effects on your spiritual life?