From Vaisnava-Siddhanta-Mala (A Garland of Vaisnava Truths) by Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda, first published in 1892.
QUESTION: "If Sri Krsna's pastimes are beyond matter, then exactly how does He enact His lila in the material world as He did 5000 years ago?
ANSWER: Sri Krsna-lila is certainly transcendental to matter, but by the power of His inconceivable potency (acintya-sakti) He manifests His pastimes within the material sphere. Even so, Sri Krsna's pastimes never blend with matter or become subject to the laws of matter.
The pastimes of Sri Krsna have two phases: 1) prakat (visible in the material world) and 2) aprakat (visible only in the spiritual world beyond matter)—and both are visuddha-cinmaya or pervaded with the purest divine consciousness.
His pastimes are performed only in the most purely sacred realm of the splendid spiritual forest of Sri Vrndavana. Their manifestation in the material world and in the hearts of purified souls is only due to Krsna's causeless mercy.
Even when Krsna's lila is performed in the world of matter, the conditioned souls who are absorbed in material consciousness (jada-buddhi) are unfortunately cheated; their contact with matter makes them see the lila with faulty vision. Only souls free from jada-buddhi are able to understand the truth.
When one becomes relieved of faulty material vision, he is then attracted to the Lord's pastimes. As long as the souls cannot understand Sri Krsna-tattva (the truth about the Lord), they cannot taste rasa or the pure sweetness of loving exchanges with God."