I recently heard “something” where it was emphasized that…Jesus told the disciples several times in advance that he was going to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise again. Yet the disciples apparently did not remember or get it because they all fell apart, in one way or another, when the events transpired. How could the disciples not remember or have properly understand beforehand? The answer to this question was not really considered or explained, and it left me uncomfortable because improper assumptions could be made.
We could doubt the accuracy of the Bible. Did Jesus really tell the disciples ahead of time? If Jesus did, how in the world could the disciples not remember it or get it? We could perceive the disciples as real lame brains.
I think there are some helpful ideas here. The disciples absorbed a lot of teaching in 3 years! Do you remember everything you learned in 3 years of college? I doubt it. John 14:26 says that when the Holy Spirit was given that the Spirit would remind them of what Jesus had taught them.
And Jesus taught in a variety of ways. Sometimes he was clear, and other times the true meaning was concealed and required spiritual perception. When Jesus told parables, some people got it and others did not.
Sometimes the disciples asked Jesus to explain a teaching afterwards. There were times the disciples were talking among themselves trying to figure out what Jesus had meant.
Jesus sometimes said hard things or worded things in a unique way. In John 6, Jesus said he was the bread of life and also talked about the need to eat and drink his flesh and blood. The response from some?
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’… From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:60,66
The inner circle stuck around, but I am sure they had uncertainty too.
When Jesus talked about his future suffering, death, and resurrection, the disciples were likely scratching their heads. Perhaps Jesus was speaking with a hidden meaning? When Peter took this literally and contradicted Jesus about this once, he was strongly rebuked “Get behind me, Satan!” – In one aspect, Peter’s concern seems justified. He did not want Jesus to suffer. I hope my friends don’t want me to suffer either! But Peter missed the true purpose of Jesus on earth.
It was just so counter-intuitive. They thought Jesus was the Messiah, who would deliver them from the Romans. While the disciples probably did not fully grasp the divinity of Jesus yet, they were proclaiming Jesus the Christ. Peter got it right when he said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But who would think that the Savior would suffer and die? That God would come to earth to die – and in a horrific way? As said, it is counter-intuitive. It is illogical really. This is not what you would expect.
Much about Christianity is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. Read the Beatitudes. Are we astonished by them? We should be.
In Christianity, we believe in the Incarnate God. The God who became one of us and lived among us. Think about it. The God of the universe relinquished his power, submitted to his enemies, and allowed himself to die. This profound and startling truth should deeply impact us. It should change everything about how we view life.
We should be more sympathetic about the disciples not understanding it ahead of time. I doubt we would have been any different. It is easy to look back 2,000 years later and think “Duh.”
If the disciples had Jesus right there with them, and yet failed to see and understand certain things… What about us?
What spiritual truths are we failing to understand? What are we blind to? Yikes. We need to pray for spiritual sight.
After the Resurrection of Jesus, it says that Jesus opened their eyes about certain things. Luke 24:44-45 states:
“He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”
Have we allowed profound truths to become ordinary and ho-hum to us? We should see the truths of Christianity, not as ordinary, but extraordinary. Have we really pondered certain truths? Are we startled? We should be.
How did the disciples turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6)? The Resurrection changed everything. Jesus conquered both sin and death. Their eyes were opened, and they were amazed by Jesus.
We should be too. As Paul says in Romans 11:33-36…
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.