Grieved and Fearful

June 15, 2021

And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day." And they were deeply grieved (Matthew 17:22-23).

We need to consider the parallel passage in Mark 9:30-32 which reads, From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later." But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

Because the time for the crucifixion was drawing near (ca. 6 months), Jesus wanted to devote His full attention to prepare His disciples for their work following His death, resurrection, and ascension. His public ministry had been concluded. He returned to Galilee with no fanfare.

The pressing lesson that had to be understood was Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Matthew said the disciples were deeply grieved over this. Mark said the disciples didn’t understand His words and were afraid to ask for an explanation. There is no contradiction here.

Crucifixion was a common practice at that time and in that region. That was how Rome dealt with its most notorious criminals. For Jesus to say He would be crucified grieved the disciples. Only the more hardened criminals and enemies of the state were crucified. Jesus did not fit that description. Why would Jesus be crucified as a criminal? They didn’t understand and were afraid to ask.

For Jesus to be executed meant He would no longer be with them as their friend and leader. That deeply grieved them. They didn’t understand why Jesus would allow that to happen since He had escaped arrest and judgment from the elders of Israel before. They didn’t understand, and they didn’t ask.

That Jesus could resurrect the dead was unquestioned, even by the elders. They attributed such power to Satan and were condemned by Jesus for it. The disciples knew that God was working through Him to heal the sick and raise the dead. But if Jesus was to die then be resurrected 3 days later, who would perform the resurrection? They didn’t understand, and they didn’t ask. They were afraid to ask because Jesus had explained these things to them before - they didn’t grasp it because they didn’t want to accept it. To ask Jesus again would make them look foolish and be accused of having little faith (and they had had enough of that).

“Lord Jesus, a number of things You spoke about in the Bible are hard to grasp, and while we think we should know this stuff, often the truth eludes us. But You are gracious, merciful and patient to answer us again when we do not understand. May we have the courage and faith to ask You again and again until Your Word becomes clear. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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