The Western world worships the intellect. We prize rational thought. We believe that we can come to know and understand anything through logic and observation. This is directly the opposite of what Biblical writers meant when they spoke of “knowing” something. To know something in the Hebrew culture meant to become that thing – to do that thing. The idea that you could read someone else’s teachings and repeat them to show that you understood the teachings would have been preposterous to them.
In Jesus’ time, when a boy wanted to study under a rabbi, he would go and plead to study under him. The rabbi would then test the boy to see if he was an acceptable candidate. If he was, he would enter a long period of training. The purpose of this training was not to simply show you could repeat back to the rabbi what he taught you to prove you had learned and mentally understood it. It was to learn to be just like the rabbi. Only through this experiential living, could he really know what the rabbi knew and understand what the rabbi was teaching.
Jesus had His disciples drop everything and live every moment of their lives with Him for three years in order to train them. Even after these three years with the greatest teacher in the history of mankind, their training was woefully incomplete. They had barely changed. When Jesus’ time of trial and crucifixion came, they all ran away like scared cats.
Yet, after they received the Holy Spirit, He transformed them into men who changed the course of history. As they sought God and experienced life, He gave them wisdom. The Holy Spirit reminded them of teachings Jesus had shared which before had just been words. They became men who knew God and their calling in His Kingdom.
What changed? Yes, they had seen Jesus alive after death, and I’m sure this was a huge encouragement. But more than this, they were changed by the gradual workings of the Holy Spirit, teaching and growing them; something that hadn’t happened through three years of hearing Jesus teach. They came to understand the words Jesus had previously spoken though obedient living, experience, and the revelation of knowledge.
Real wisdom and understanding are realized from doing. Not from thinking about how something works.
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