By: Faith Korbel
Readings: Psalm 20; Habakkuk 3:2-15; Luke 18:31-34
31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
It’s so easy to read this passage and instantly judge the disciples as really terrible listeners. On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus’ description of what is coming is pretty clear (mocking, insulting, spitting, flogging, death), so what’s not to understand? He’s predicting some really heavy, scary stuff and his closest followers and companions, his inner circle, are completely blowing him off!
Of course, as readers, we have the added bonus of knowing (and being mentally prepared for) what’s coming for Jesus and knowing that this prediction will come true. At this point in Luke, things are good for Jesus and his followers…really, really good. They are traveling and preaching to growing crowds. Jesus is performing miracles and people are listening and responding to his parables. There is no obvious reason to believe that things will change, and the disciples would probably rather that they not.
It’s a little bit hard to tell whether the disciples truly didn’t understand what Jesus was saying or just weren’t ready to hear what Jesus was saying – perhaps it was a combination of both.
Can you think of a time when God was speaking to you and you didn’t understand or just weren’t ready to hear the message (or a combination of both)? I certainly can.
While it’s easy to judge the disciples, they were simply the first of centuries of followers who sometimes have a hard time hearing what exactly God is telling them.
Lord, please be patient with us when we don’t understand, or aren’t ready to understand, what you are telling us. Grant us the faith and courage to see past our fears and distractions and to hear what we don’t always want to hear.