Serious questions about how God does things — John 1:40-42

Peter Denying Jesus by Mark Dachille (

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

John 1:40-42

I have serious questions about how God does things:

Here in John chapter 1 we see Andrew bring Simon to Jesus and Jesus accepts him as one of his disciples. He even renames him “Cephas” (which, translated, is Peter) which means Rock. Imagine with me what that would have been like. You’re brother or sister brings you to the Messiah and as you’re meeting him for the first time He renames you “Rock.” Peter, formerly known as Simon, must have been completely blown away.

But Jesus’ acceptance of Peter raises serious questions. Knowing, as he surely did, Peter would put his foot in his mouth to the point where Jesus would call him Satan, knowing Peter would impulsively whip out a sword and cut off a servant’s ear, knowing Peter would disown Him twice at the courtyard of the high priest, even calling down curses in the process, knowing Peter’s impulsive and emotional nature, why on earth would Jesus accept this man as His disciple? (Matthew 16:21-23, John 18:10, Matthew 26:69-75)

And Jesus not only accepted Peter with all his faults and frailties, he also endorsed the other disciples, who would bicker among themselves about who would be greatest in heaven, and even seek to call down fire on an entire village. (Luke 9:46, Luke 9:54)

The Organic God:

Butterflies are amazing creatures. I’ll never forget a certain bike ride I went on one beautiful spring day. I started up a five mile road that climbs toward the top of Talabox Mountain. The views of the Applegate Valley are spectacular, but, the beauty of the views is exceeded by the steepness of the grade, which ranges from 6-16%. I hadn’t ridden that route for a few years and by the time I neared the top, my lungs were raw and my legs were so weary they felt like someone had infused them with cold fudge. During the final mile or so I lost the shelter of the mountain and was fighting a very chilly 5-10 mph headwind on top of the unrelenting steep grade. Even though I was wondering to myself, “Could I walk up this mountain faster than I’m riding right now?” I was still feeling pretty good about “conquering” Talabox Mountain. Then, out of nowhere, a butterfly appeared right next to me, at eye level, not more than two feet to my left. As I labored at my painstakingly slow pace I watched the butterfly, flying against the same headwind, pass me on the way up the mountain. “How is that even possible?” I cried out loud. You know, I could almost hear the hissing sound from the escaping air of my deflating ego.

Butterflies are amazing creatures, and God is an amazing God. Do you remember how He wrote the ten commandments in His own hand on two slabs of rock? Do you remember how He wrote on the palace wall, in His own hand, when He passed judgement on Belshazzar of Babylon. (Exodus 31:18, Daniel chapter 5) If He chose to, He could have written out His entire plan, in His own hand, perfectly displayed on a cliff face somewhere in the Israeli desert, for all to see. But instead He did things organically. (I use the word as defined in the Urban Dictionary: An analogy in the creative process, used to describe a work such as a novel or movie script made in such a way that the various parts developed as they were written/painted/whatever, one from another, rather than sticking rigidly to a preconceived plan.) God used Moses the meek and the Israeli nation attempted to rebel against Moses more times than I can remember. He used David the adulterous murderer. He used Jonah the prophet who ran away. He used many others who would fall and fail. When He sent Christ into the world to do His redemptive work, He could have left Him here, on earth, for the rest of eternity, to run the world with perfection. But instead He had Jesus mentor eleven very flawed disciples, then after only three years He took Jesus away, and turned the whole thing over to them, the eleven. And now, today, He chooses to use the pastor who exaggerates facts during his sermon, and the missionary who sometimes counsels amiss, and the elder who can be rude, and the Bible teacher who’s overbearing. He could have done things so much more cleanly, so much more neatly, without the mess that comes from doing His work through human beings, without the mess from doing things organically. He could have done things Himself. But that’s not His way.

Butterflies are amazing creatures. The Monarch can fly up to 12 mph and even faster for short periods. They’re one of the few insects capable of flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Their metamorphisis from a slow crawling lowly caterpillar to a beautiful creature capable of flying over one thousand miles is one of the most amazing transformations found in nature. The process of breaking out of their cocoon, or chrysalis, is particularly interesting. It’s a struggle. There are long pauses when nothing is happening. The efforts of the emerging butterfly are clumsy. The efforts of the emerging butterfly are awkward. It would be so easy for a human being to just take a razor and slice open the chrysalis so the butterfly could escape without having to undergo such distress. The only problem is, in most instances, if the butterfly receives assistance, if he doesn’t struggle to escape, he’ll live, but he won’t be able to fly. (see How to Help a Butterfly Out of Cocoon)

I sure don’t know why God does things the way He does. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than your ways and my ways, and His thoughts than your thoughts and mine. (Isaiah 55:9) But knowing how gracious He is, knowing how loving He is, knowing His propensity to do what He knows to be best for us, in spite of ourselves, knowing He loves us so much He sacrificed His own Son to save us, I’m guessing it has something to do with His desire to transform us.

To transform us into a creature who can fly one thousand miles.

May He have His way.


Bible Gateway


6 Comments on “Serious questions about how God does things — John 1:40-42

  1. Pingback: Judah and Tamar | bennett's blog

  2. Pingback: You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter) — John 1:40-42 | bennett's blog

  3. Hi Kurt, I think this is probably one of your best posts yet! I like that you don’t come right out with an answer to the question you pose. I also think that my name could be inserted in the post and fit right in with Moses, Peter, and David, yet crazily enough, I have still been used by God. I also appreciate the reminder that transformation is one of the main goals the Lord has for our lives. Thanks.

    • Transformation is definitely one of His big goals for us, but it’s hard when I’m so comfortable with the way I am!

      Thanks for reading Suzy

  4. Every time I think I’ve figured something out about God, I’m proven wrong. He can’t be understood down here….That is my opinion.

    • It’s been said, If God were small enough to be understood, He wouldn’t be big enough to be worshipped.

      His grace surprises me almost every day!

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