Editorial: What's so Hard to Understand?

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
When teaching computer graphics in college, I found it important to prepare carefully detailed, step-by-step instructions for each assigned project. Many students were older and unemployed. Others, immigrants from foreign lands, had problems communicating in English. But most all of them were earnestly trying to gain new, marketable skills.
Lack of computer skills, the inherent difficulty of mastering professional-level graphics software, and verbal communication difficulties made it requisite that the students have understandable instructions. So, countless hours were invested over those years preparing and revising detailed “project packets.” Most of my students appreciated and carefully followed these written guides. But there were always some who wouldn’t make the necessary effort required to read and follow the instructions.
I remember one young graduate from a local high school who would spend perhaps five minutes disinterestedly glancing at her packet before beginning to work. Moments later she would throw the material down with a grimace of disgust, demanding that I walk her through each step because “your instructions are just too hard to understand.”
Interestingly, in a nearby cubicle sat a young South East Asian student who, though unable to effectively communicate in English, could read the language very well. He carefully studied his packet, rarely asked a question, yet always completed his work perfectly and ahead of published deadlines.
The written instructions weren’t hard to understand, but they did require desire and effort to read.
A Spiritual Application
A similar thing may happen in our spiritual lives. The eye of faith may lose sight of the Lord Jesus in glory (Heb. 2:99But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)) or, like the Ephesian believers, the heart may lose first love for His person (Rev. 2:44Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:4)). It is then that the soul becomes attracted (like Demas) in love for this present world (2 Tim. 4:1010For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10)). Enjoyment of the person and work of the Lord Jesus and the desire to be found diligently reading His precious Word begins to fade. The inclination is then to look to others considered spiritually gifted or knowledgeable of the Word as the source of personal joy in the things of God because the Bible has begun to seem hard to understand .  .  . but is it?
Consider the Gospel of John where our blessed Lord is presented in His highest Godhead glory—the “only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.” One might think that such a sublime passage, revealing the eternal Word as God the eternal Son, would be couched in such majestic language that it would indeed be hard to understand.
But let us hear some of those exalted, divinely inspired words found in John’s Gospel and see if anyone could truly and fairly say of inspired Scripture, “This is too hard to understand.”
Dear Christian, ponder these words uttered by John Baptist as he contemplated the One who was “full of grace and truth.” These simple words are the key to understanding the Bible. The Holy Spirit desires first to direct each redeemed heart into worshipful reflection of the infinitely lovely person of Christ. As the heart becomes more engaged with the Word made flesh, the written Word will open in understanding to the heart. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.  .  .  .  God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9-109But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9‑10)).
“What Seek Ye?”—a Searching Question
John’s words had an effect on his disciples. Two of them leave John to follow Jesus, and it is then we find the first recorded utterance of the eternal Word (in this Gospel). Seeing them following Him, the Lord asks, “What seek ye?” This divine question, so infinitely full of meaning and instruction, requires but three words—none containing more than four letters. Simple, beautiful, yet profound question!
One who is beholding the Lamb of God and following Him who has won their heart’s affections will hear the Word made flesh tenderly, graciously asking the same question. If we find our hearts desiring an object before Himself, something we assume will give joy and satisfaction that He cannot give, may we quickly seek grace to lay it aside. Is this not a vital, searching, yet easy to understand question our blessed Lord asks? May our hearts joyfully answer, “Lord Jesus, I am seeking Thy blessed company—nothing more and nothing less.”
“Come and See”—a Gracious Invitation
Here are three more divinely spoken, easy to understand words given in answer to those who wanted to know where the Lord Jesus dwelt. Being in the presence of His person was now important to them—it had become the chief desire of their hearts, even as it was to Mary, who “sat at Jesus’ feet.”
But notice that our blessed Lord did not say, “Come and do.” Heart-satisfying enjoyment of His blessed person requires nothing more than willingness to accept His loving invitation. For the two who did that, there was far more, for “of His fullness have all we received, and grace [upon] grace.” They not only saw where He dwelt, but His abounding grace welcomed them to stay there with Him.
The objects of this world that capture the heart require tremendous energy, effort and expense from those who would gain them. The world never gives to an empty heart—but it ever demands and takes.
Are not the Lord’s words truly the divine answer to hollow, aching hearts—to be enjoying His presence while delighting in faith’s view of His glories?
“Follow Me”—Instructions for Happiness
Two simple, divinely uttered words hold the key to what every human heart craves—satisfaction and happiness. None other save our blessed Lord, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” can be trusted to freely supply (Rom. 8:3232He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)) what each heart by nature lacks and what so many are desperately seeking.
Are these, His words, hard to understand? No, they are easy to understand, but hard to obey unless He is the supreme Object and delight of our hearts. “They saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matt. 17:88And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. (Matthew 17:8)).