PREPARE TO LISTEN. Be still for as long as you need, then pray: Dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:28)
READ: Mark 9:30-32 ‘They could have asked!’
30They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Sometimes you think you’re being really clear, read-my-lips clear, but your listeners don’t get it. We’ve all experienced this and the frustration that goes with it. Jesus understands us because he experienced the same thing. Twice in this brief paragraph Jesus taught that he’d be killed. No one got it. His disciples, those who had spent nearly three years almost constantly in his presence, who saw his acts and heard his teaching, still “did not understand.” Not for the first time, either. Jesus had previously complained, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:21). He had also rebuked Peter (8:33) for rebuking Jesus when he taught this very same truth.
This time, when they once again failed to understand, the disciples were too afraid to ask Jesus to explain. Their problem was their preconceived ideas of what Messiah would do—defeat the occupying Romans and make Israel ‘great again.’ What Jesus said, however, was the very antithesis of this. Messiah would suffer and die at the hand of the Roman enemy. Suffering and death, with its implied defeat, were not terms they had ever related to Messiah’s mission. Jesus’ message was too alarming, too disturbing and beyond their comprehension. Jesus could have relieved their anxiety about the future, their sense of confusion and hopelessness if only they weren’t so afraid and kept silent. They could have asked.
What about Jesus’ mission disturbs you enough to make you avoid asking your questions?
RESPOND TO JESUS IN PRAYER
Jesus, it takes courage, sometimes more than I have, to face the truth of your teaching that often conflicts with my ideas. Give me that courage today to ask my hard questions. Amen.
GO AND LIVE IN OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST who never sugar-coats his mission.