Jesus is not who we think he is. And he is not who we want him to be.

Jesus is who he is. Period. Our ability to fully comprehend his reality is limited. It is also distorted as we peer through a glass darkly. We may have some very accurate understanding of what the Shepherd is like in certain regards, but ultimately our conceptions are incomplete at best.

The good news is that the Shepherd wants us to know him – fully. He wants us to know the Father. Together they are at work to increase not only our understanding of their heart and character, but to increase our capacity for understanding as well. They are as unlimited in their ability to reveal themselves as we are limited in discovering them on our own.

We all of us are subject to something known as confirmation bias. That simply means that we believe those things which tend to reinforce our current beliefs. If we want a God who is gentle, for instance, we will see references to his meekness everywhere in scripture, but will be inclined to overlook mention of his anger. (And of course, the opposite can be true.) Because of our humanness, we are biased, and we expect the God of our imagination to reflect our preferences.

The fallacy of such thinking is too obvious be require refutation. Nevertheless, we are – like it or not- all of us affected by this phenomenon. So when we think about how the Shepherd would respond to a given set of circumstances (WWJD, anyone?), or to a certain type of person, our first inclination will be to imagine him acting as we would. Thank God that is not the case!

Jesus is not who we think he is, nor who we want him to be. Our Shepherd is ultimately inscrutable. The paradox is that he wants to be known, and he makes it possible for us to know.

 

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