The disciples still don’t have the full picture of what Jesus came to do.
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 handed 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.
This is the third time in Luke’s gospel that Jesus has predicted his death (the first two times were Luke 9:21-27, and Luke 9:43-50). This time, though, it is specifically linked to the fact that they are on their way to Jerusalem – that place toward which Jesus ‘set his face’ back in Luke 9:51. We have been following this journey to Jerusalem and seeing Jesus’ mission along the way, and now Jesus turns and reminds his disciples that he won’t be entering Jerusalem as a conquering king, as they might have been hoping; but rather as a suffering servant, who will be handed over to the authorities, mocked, insulted, spat on, flogged and killed.
The disciples, though, just don’t get it. They’ve already acknowledged that Jesus is the Messiah (Luke 9:18-27), but they don’t yet have a clear picture of what that means. They’ve been expecting a Messiah who is a conquering king, who will liberate Israel from Roman rule. So the words that Jesus is saying just don’t compute – because the disciples’ expectations of Jesus are all wrong.
We mustn’t be too quick to condemn them, though; as much as Jesus’ meaning seems fairly straightforward as we read these words, the passage also says that the meaning was “hidden from them”. God hadn’t yet opened their eyes to understand the fullness of his purposes for Jesus, and it would only be after his resurrection and ascension that they truly come to understand and appreciate Jesus’ mission. But at this stage, even the closest followers of Jesus are still somewhat darkened in their understanding.
Head: Do you ever shape your picture of Jesus based on your own expectations of how you would like him to be? How does the picture of Jesus in Luke’s gospel challenge that?
Heart: How would the disciples have felt to hear the Messiah who they had been following predicting his own suffering and death? How do you feel now knowing what Jesus went through for you?
Hands: What areas of your life have you yet to give over to Jesus? What are some ways that you can try to bring your whole life under his rule?
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that your purposes are higher than ours. Even though we don’t always understand what it is you’re doing in the world, help us to trust in your good and perfect will. We thank you that it was your plan from the beginning of time to send Jesus as the suffering servant to die for the sins of your people; and we thank you that through this you have offered us forgiveness, even though we did nothing to deserve such grace. Thank you for the grace and mercy that you have lavished upon us through Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.
A song to listen to: Man of Sorrows
Living Church Creek Road