With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.
Mark 4: 33-34 The Message
Some things in life just take time. Here, the Gospel of Mark presents us with a picture of the ongoing spiritual formation process. Jesus taught His disciples constantly, helping them to understand the kingdom of God.
As we know, the disciples often misunderstood things. The twelve frequently got things wrong, sometimes repeatedly. (Perhaps the most notorious incident occurred when Peter told Jesus that his upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection were not necessary, and Jesus responded by saying to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”)
To keep their attention, and to help them remember His lessons, Jesus told his disciples engaging stories. To aid them in getting things straight, Christ exercised an enormous amount of patience. The imaginative language used here in The Message translation would have been readily understood by fishermen like Peter. It was language related to ropes, and nets.
With His patient teaching of stories, Jesus was sorting out the tangles, and untying the knots, much like a fisherman does when lines get crossed. To put it another way, He was working to help them untangle the confusion and roadblocks in their brains. Jesus did this because He so wanted to share His heart with them by cutting through their confusion.
Sometimes, I will try to grab a bungee cord to secure a load on a trailer, only to find it has become entangled with other cords and straps. The only solution is to patiently untangle the knot of cords and straps. It takes time, but it is the only way to accomplish my goal.
How wonderful it is that our Lord takes the time to teach us. He is patient with us even when we are not patient with ourselves. When we become discouraged about how long a task takes, we need to be patient. This truth holds even when we are ministering to others. Remember that Jesus spent three years with the disciples, helping them to understand His ministry. Think of it: more than a thousand days spent teaching and equipping the disciples to become the leaders of the early church!
Do I take the time to untangle people’s misunderstandings?
Am I patient when others are tangled up with anxieties, and false information?
Do I ask the Lord to help me when I feel confused, frustrated, anxious and tied up in knots?
May we all strive to answer yes to these questions. This portrait of Jesus going over things again and again with His disciples is a wonderful example of how we should interact others. Giving them help, and instructing them patiently may be just what is needed. We need to be prepared to do so on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. In truth, we are called to do so as long as necessary. This is Jesus’ call for us all.
In a world which often ties our stomachs into knots, let us be the helpers who will untangle the knots. May we bring calm and offer clear and truths so that others will eventually understand. Let us do so with abundant patience, and much kindness. Amen.
Thank you, Lord, for your calm and patient understanding of me. God in heaven, how often have I tried to hurry You? Many times, I expected a quick solution to something that You viewed very differently from me. Forgive me. Help me to practice patience, when it is required. Assist me in finding empathy and understanding when I quick to judge others, and get angry at them. Thank you for taking Your time with me. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.