Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.’ But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. Luke 18.30-34
Word of Hope
Jesus is (again) explaining to the twelve what is about to happen. It seems simple in some ways. The physical torment Jesus is going to go through is laid out quite clearly. It’s not pretty, but seems plainly stated. So why do they not grasp it? How is it hidden? This is the third time Jesus has explained what is to come and yet they don’t get it. Indeed, you have to wonder why he keeps explaining it. I have to give them credit though. They do not give up and abandon Jesus in frustration.
There are, I suppose, two explanations. One is that they are being kept from grasping the significance by something; perhaps the Holy Spirit? The other is that they cannot comprehend the import of what they are hearing. They hear the words; they cannot understand them within their personal frames of reference.
The first possibility seems unlikely. It could be argued that they were kept from understanding because of the gravity of the situation. But would not then have Jesus known? Is he telling them all of this so that when it happens it will not be such a shock? Why bother explaining what they cannot understand?
I tend to fall on the side of the second explanation. Perhaps I come from a world where psychological analysis is prominent (though I am not an analyst nor have I been under the care of one). So my idea that they are blocking out the bad news and that it is hidden by their own minds may be a product of my world, not theirs. But people are people and just because the terminology is not there it does not mean the condition is not. I think they are hiding the truth from themselves.
Of course part of this is out of their experience. Living in the Roman Empire, it is likely they had seen people mocked, insulted, spat upon, flogged and killed. But none of those folks had risen again. Indeed the religious leaders were often on opposite sides of the debate on whether there was even a life after life on Earth, let alone some resurrection.
But are they really different from us? How often when we hear things plainly stated are we left wondering “what is that all about”? We read and hear about Jesus but how often do we ask “What?” Our own salvation can be hard to grasp. Two thousand years ago Jesus was tortured and died so that we could all be saved? Hard to grasp for me even though I have had those prophecies from the Jewish scriptures explained many times. I don’t doubt it; but I’m not sure I understand it.
Loving Creator, help us understand and when we cannot understand, give us that peace that surpasses understanding. Let your love for us keep us following Jesus even when we fail to grasp all that there is about what that means. Because- we know there will be a time when all will be made clear.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.