The pandemic has sparked a new or renewed interest in puzzles as a healthy coping strategy and way to pass the time when confined indoors. I recently sent a Pandemic Merit badge to a couple who completed their first 1000 piece puzzle. Rubix cubes, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, board games and connect-the-dot pictures are puzzle solving activities that are great alternatives to screen time. Incorporating active brain stimulation by completing a new task or challenging your spatial and logic thinking can improve your mental health and is a proven anti-aging strategy.
When I study the teachings of Jesus I am impressed by how often he spoke cryptically with parables or masterfully replied to questions with questions that puzzled his challengers and forced deeper thinking. In one case it’s his very own cousin, John the Baptist asking: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3) This seems like the perfect setup for God to echo his self-proclaimed identity as: “I AM”.
Instead He replies, “the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them” (Matthew 11:4–5). Jesus wasn’t merely reporting what was already the talk of the town; He is directly quoting Isaiah 35:5–6 and 61:1. If you haven’t read Isaiah, you won’t understand Jesus’ reply. He expects his listeners to do their homework and connect the dots of prophecy to recent events. They are to think it through and make the connection.
Only when they have completed both tasks will they come to know the truth. Why doesn’t Jesus make it simple and easy and speak plainly? This is the question his closest friends asked Him too! Jesus wants true students, learners and thinkers as His disciples. Those who are truly seeking and hungry to understand. The New Testament references Isaiah more than any other single work. The gospel writers understand significant aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: his birth, baptism, healing miracles, parables, passion, resurrection, prayer, preaching, mission, salvation, and forgiveness.