Prepare to Listen. In humility, offer this prayer: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 17:9-13
9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ 10And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ 11He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ 13Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
“Then the disciples understood.” That's a first! It's the only time in the four Gospels that we’re told the disciples understood Jesus. Most frequently we read about them failing to understand, both Jesus’ deeds and his words. But for once, they understood one small idea—John the Baptist was the Elijah of his day, and thus a forerunner of Messiah.
Sometimes we too think we finally understand Jesus. And perhaps we do understand some aspect of his life and teaching. But understanding, even when it’s about something big, isn’t enough; in fact, it’s impossible. Jesus doesn’t give himself to our limited, finite minds as a complete and comprehensible whole. He gives us a little understanding to entice us into an eternal journey of learning and understanding and growing and knowing. When we think we have understood all there is or need to understand, we become distorted bigots who end up distorting the good news. Jesus withdraws, and we’re driven into not knowing. This ultimately leads us, if we faithfully hang in, into a relationship with him that is an ever-growing, ever-changing encounter with the Holy. We’re on a journey, always not fully knowing, not fully understanding. Some days we think understand and then we see the larger vision of the incomprehensible mystery of Jesus and we too, like Jesus’ disciples must admit we don’t understand what we thought we did. If we ever think we’ve learned all there is to learn and understand, we’ve lost the way.
What do you think you understand about Jesus? See it within the largeness of the Mystery of Christ and be humbled. Live with not understanding today and be led by Jesus.
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus, when I think I understand you and the mystery of salvation in you, please remind me of the largeness of your work and let me live with the mystery and the joy of not knowing. Guard me from becoming arrogant because I think understand. For the sake of your Name, Amen.
Go live obediently in the world whether you understand or not.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.