Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem for the last time. Jesus’ time with them on this side of the grave is nearing its end. He tells them one more time what is about to happen.
Passover celebration is at hand so there are many travelers on the roads heading to Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples are among the travelers. The roads are packed with people. Jesus wants to warn His disciples once again what is going to happen, so He draws them out of the crowd to a secluded spot along the way. Jesus pulls no punches in His description this time. He tells the disciples explicitly what is going to happen. He doesn’t go into graphic details, but He leaves no room for doubt as to the upcoming events.
The events Jesus includes in His narrative are: 1) He will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, 2) He will be condemned to death by this bunch, and 3) they will give Him to the Gentiles to carry out the sentence. The Gentiles will mock Him, flog Him, and then crucify Him. Finally, AFTER all this takes place, Jesus will be raised from the dead on the third day.
What did Jesus’ description of His complete itinerary do to the disciples? Did they brush it off as pessimism? Did they tune out whenever Jesus brought this subject up? Did they become hypervigilant when the religious leaders came around? When I think about how they refused to listen, I picture a child sticking his fingers in his ears, closing his eyes, and singing “la la la la” until the speaker quit trying to talk to him.
Jesus had told His disciples on two other occasions that He was going to be put to death and rise again. EVERYTHING else Jesus said happened exactly as He said it would. How could they ignore what He was saying now? Was God deliberately letting them remain thick headed on this point to protect them? I can’t imagine the fear that would be going through the disciples’ minds every time Jesus encountered the Pharisees or the religious leaders if they had actually believed what Jesus was saying. But if they were really listening they would have also heard the hope at the end of all three times Jesus shared His future. They would have heard that He was going to rise again on the third day.
Peter is standing near Jesus while He is telling them what is to come. Peter is silently thinking, “Over my dead body!”
Judas thinks, “If He doesn’t get off this subject I’m going to make Him wish He had. I’ll make His predictions come true if He doesn’t knock it off. Of course I won’t really let them kill Him. Just scare a little sense into Him.”
James and John are having a side conversation with their mother, who just happened to show up.
The other disciples are pretending to listen, but they too think Jesus is just looking for trouble that isn’t there.
I wonder if Jesus was exasperated with the disciples because they not listening. He knew they wouldn’t get it until after everything had already happened. I think He was simply constructing an anchor for them to hold onto during their darkest storm yet. The nights on the boat where they thought they would drown were nothing compared to what was coming up.
Thank You Jesus for preparing Your disciples beforehand, even though they didn’t believe what You were saying. This was another example of You fulfilling prophecy, even Your own. Thank You for protecting them from the harsh reality by making them thick headed. Thank You also for ensuring that You provided hope in every telling of what was to come. When part one finally did happen, they were too devastated to remember part two. The pain they felt during those three days blocked their minds from recognizing that hope, until it too was thrust upon them. Thank You for not leaving them in despair.
I am looking forward to walking with You in Jerusalem, but am also not looking forward to the pain that I know is coming while there. Being on this side of the promise makes is a bit easier for us to walk that path with You. Thank You again for putting me in this time in history. I don’t know how I would have survived the actual events as they unfolded.