Jesus repeatedly tries to expand the viewpoint of his audience—to push them toward a broader mind.
The Sadducees, who reject the concept of resurrection, think they have a foolproof “what-if.” If a woman has been married to seven different men, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? Jesus responds: “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?”(Mark 12:24). When God states “I am the God of Abraham,” he is implying that Abraham is still living. Just because the Sadducees do not understand how resurrection works doesn’t mean it isn’t true. They need a broader view of God’s power.
When Jesus tells the disciples that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God,” they recoil. “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responds, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”(Matt 19:24-26). The disciples believe that if the rich—whose wealth is seemingly an indicator of God’s favor—can’t be saved, no one can. They need a broader view of God’s grace.
Jesus tells his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”(Matt 21:21-22). He wants them to pray bigger, more audacious prayers and trust that God is willing to back them up. This teaching is not full of qualifications and reservations. He wants them to have a broader view of God’s intervention in his world.
Jesus warns the Sadducees about putting God in a box. By trying to understand God and systematize their theology, they miss him. God is so much greater than our attempts to understand him.
Jesus warns the disciples about assuming they know whom God will save. By trying to understand how they can gain (and know they have) God’s favor, they exclude and include the wrong people. God is so much more gracious than we are.
Jesus warns the disciples about limiting God’s possible activities. By trying to know what is allowed and forbidden, they are tempted to fall back on “safe” requests. God is so much more active and powerful than we can imagine.
Faith involves being open to the limitless power—and infinitely good will—of an Almighty God.