Daily Devotional April 19, 2023

“His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him”. (John 12:16, ESV)

     Hindsight is 20/20. This phrase is one of the most frequently used aphorisms in English. The meaning implies that when we look back in time at an event that has already happened, we can see perfectly why the occurrence took place.

     On the day we now call Palm Sunday, retrospect offered Jesus’ disciples perfect acuity as to the meaning of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. Only after Jesus’ death and resurrection did his followers connect the dots between the ancient prophecies of the Messiah with the actions Jesus took during Holy Week. In this instance, hindsight was 20/20.

     But does hindsight always offer us a clear glimpse into the past? Consider the following statements as examples:

           If we had purchased an airline ticket instead of driving the car, we would have arrived in time.

           If only we hadn’t purchased that motorcycle for him, he wouldn’t be in the hospital.

           Had we not spoiled our granddaughter so much, she wouldn’t have become an addict.

     Hindsight in these instances gives us the false impression that our actions are solely responsible for their outcomes. The explanations, however, fail to consider any number of factors that may have led to the incidents in question. In such cases, hindsight is clouded by our human tendency toward confirmation bias or our inclination to cherry-pick information that confirms our existing beliefs or ideas.

     Sadly, a clouded perspective of the past can lead us toward unwarranted feelings of guilt, regret, and shame. Even more, such misguided conclusions can impair our capacity to make sound decisions in the future. However, such cautions do not negate the helpfulness of hindsight altogether.

     Consider, once again, Jesus’ disciples. Their collective view of the past helped them better understand the connection between the messianic prophesies of old with Jesus’ crucifixion. By reviewing all of the past and present evidence together, they reached a clear consensus that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah.

     These collaborative measures the disciples took to assuage their individual confirmation biases are actions you can take, as well. Before you come to any conclusion about a historical account, first vet your interpretations with someone else. Get as wide a perspective as you can. The more eyes you have on the past, the more insightful you will be.