MARK 5 – Define “Transcendent Power”
Unquantifiable power, that truly “transcends” anything that we know or understand, can either be feared or else dismissed completely. The latest concern, for example, comes this time from NASA. It’s about the unthinkable damage that Asteroid Bennu could wreck upon the earth, if it hits us in 2135.[a] Apparently, it’s the size of the Empire State Building but, in comparison to the whole world, that’s a small piece of rock, isn’t it?
Apparently, if Bennu collides with us, it would unleash 1,200 megatons of energy on impact – that’s 80,000 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb. But for those who didn’t live through WWII, even these facts can’t move us. This level of destructive power transcends the limit of our comprehension and experience, so we dismiss concern.
Conversely, the Creator God has demonstrated on earth a measure of His transcendent, constructive power. The measurement of the limited portion that He’s revealed in HIStory, has always been beyond comprehension. This is why He’s simply been called El Shaddai (God Almighty) from the earliest stories.[b] It’s one of many names given to the Creator of Everything and, though it seems “larger than life” and “big enough” for Him, it is itself limited by what we quantify as “mighty”.
If we can’t fathom the power created by one Empire State Building (weighing 79 billion kilograms and hitting the ground at 61,000km/h), our Creator gave us a Handbook of stories that should be easy enough to follow. In today’s chapter, three stories show that our Maker’s power “transcends” i.e. not limited by the visible nor the invisible.
This seemingly ordinary 1st Century carpenter, for example, had power over the spirit world, when He healed a man possessed with a legion of demons. [v1-20] Power over the physical world, when He healed a lady who had, for 12 years, suffered greatly at the hands of many physicians. [v25-34] Finally, He had power over the underworld, when He raised a child to life. [v21-24 & v35-43]
But as spectacular as this is, none of it means anything if we can’t see the power behind the impact. Just as a scientist would say, it’s useless information if we don’t understand what’s generating the power and why. Once we begin to understand what’s at the back of what we’re looking at, we can make a decision on how we’re to respond.
In each story, Jesus is demonstrating the limitless power of the Creator God’s interest in each one of His image-bearers. The word “human” is a term given to creatures who resemble the Creator God. Creatures created in the image of God to operate in His likeness.[c] And, today’s chapter is about the Creator unleashing His constructive power, in order to restore His images back to working order. The demon-possessed man had his sanity restored so that he could think clearly again. [v20] The sick lady was healed so that she could function again. [v29] And the dead girl woke up – restored so that she could live again. [v42-43]
But to understand what I’m describing to you here, I need to take you out to the open universe again. VY Canis Majoris is the largest star found so far. If we put Planet Earth next to it, we’re so small that you’d need a microscope to find us in the picture! We know that there are many stars out there that, at the centre, contain unthinkable power. Canis Majoris, in comparison to us, looks like a lake of fire.[d] Our own sun, (a tiny dot compared to Canis Majoris) could destroy us all if it moved a fraction either way. This could certainly represent for us, the destructive power of the Creator God. Most of us could visualize this because we can see it. But I want to draw your attention to what you can’t see, if you’re to understand today’s chapter.
The Creator God, by his transcendent constructive power, has limited His unthinkable destructive power into balls. All the black bits in space, where no particles can be found at all, and there’s nothing to see (nothing that our minds can visualize), is in itself “transcendent” and represents the greatest thing that I could even talk to you about. It’s the transcendent power of the Creator God’s limitless Grace. It can only be “seen” if you focus on how it’s protecting the tiny dot of Planet Earth, by holding back everything using seemingly nothingness (no physical matter) – unfathomable power holding at bay an immeasurable number of destructive entities in a limitless universe. And why? Because that one microscopic dot contains 7+ billion images of Himself.
Because we haven’t been able to understand His true transcendent power, His true self, found in His invisible love for us, He gave us His Handbook displaying a limited portion in HIStory – to help us process Him intellectually. He then sent Jesus to help us process Him visually…
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” [Colossians 1:15-17]
When a meteorite hits the ground, it creates a crater eight times its size. Likewise, after the demon-possessed man was healed, the whole community was stirred and people from the town and country came out in response. [v14-17] When the sick lady was healed, the impact of her quiet plan to touch Jesus clothes unnoticed, spread through the whole crowd. [v27-32] When the child was raised to life, the shockwaves astounded everyone there. [v42]
So then, until we understand that the point of impact (where the Living God connects with humanity), is an explosive revelation, we’ll neither be concerned nor interested, and likely to dismiss any notion of it completely. However, when we grasp the full impact of the extent of HIStory, transformational change follows at a rate that’s far bigger than the event itself.
Unquantifiable power that transcends everything we know, can be either feared (generating an active response) or else, the unthinkable isn’t possible and therefore dismissed. For three millenniums, humans have understood that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and that those who listen to His commandments have a good understanding.[e] In his Book of Proverbs, King Solomon of Israel said:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction… The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” [Proverbs 1:9 & 9:10]
But what does this mean for me, going about my daily life today?
Jesus was the ultimate image of God, functioning as a complete representation of our Living Creator.[f] But while His demonstration of our Maker’s transcendent power is impressive, it’s the demonstration of the Creator God’s limitless love stronger still. It’s why He sent Jesus to begin with.[g] The propulsion (thrust, momentum, driving force) behind every story from the beginning, comes from the Creator’s MasterPlan to bless all families on earth[h] – just as I’ve personally experienced: “Because the Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, we are not consumed, For His compassions never fail… He’ll have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness.”[i] So then, if I were to define His Transcendent Power today, I’d say He’s a chain breaker…
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[b] Genesis 17:1
[c] Genesis 1:26-27
[d] Revelation 20:10,14-15
[e] Psalm 111:10
[f] Hebrews 1:3
[g] John 3:16
[h] Genesis 12:3
[i] Lamentations 3:22&32