Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:43-45 — Afraid to ask

In this passage, we see the second time in which Jesus speaks plainly to his disciples about what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  He couldn’t have been more clear.

He said, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you.”  (Luke 9:44)

And he told them specifically that he would be betrayed, killed, and raised to life on the third day.

The way Luke records the disciples’ response strikes me.

But they did not understand what this meant.  It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.  (45)

Looking back as Christians, it’s very difficult for us to understand why the disciples would have trouble grasping this.  It wasn’t like he was speaking in parables.  He told them in a very straightforward manner, “This is what is going to happen.”  Why couldn’t they understand something that Jesus said so plainly.  Luke says the reason was that it was hidden from them.

Why was it hidden from them?  I think the main reason is they weren’t ready to hear the truth.  They were still totally focused on the idea that he would be setting up his kingdom in Israel soon, setting the Jews free from  Roman rule.  We’ll see this in a couple of blogs from now.

But because they’re minds were so focused on their way of thinking, they couldn’t understand the plain words of Jesus.  What’s more, they were afraid to ask what Jesus meant.

Why were they afraid?  I don’t think they were afraid of Jesus’ rebuke.  I think they were afraid that he was speaking plainly.  And they were so focused on the negative parts, that he would be betrayed and die, that they couldn’t see the positive, that he would rise again.

What does this mean for us?

I think that sometimes, we get so set in our way of thinking, that we can’t see what Jesus is saying to us, even when he is speaking plainly.  What he says goes so contrary to the way we’re thinking or feeling, that we think, “He can’t really mean what I think he’s saying, can he?”

Yet we’re afraid to ask because if he tells us that he means what he says, it means we need to change.  We need to change our way of thinking, our behavior, or both.  And that can be scary.

For example, God says “Don’t be yoked with unbelievers”  (II Corinthians 6:14).  In other words, we shouldn’t be in relationships where we are tied to people in such a way that they pull away us from God and his ways.

But when many Christians who date non-Christians, or are even engaged to non-Christians see this passage, it scares them.

“It doesn’t really mean what I think it’s saying is it?”  And they are afraid to ask God, because it might mean they have to break up with that person, when they don’t want to.

Or when God says, “Flee sexual immorality” (I Corinthians 6:18), some people think, “Does this mean sleeping with a person before marriage is wrong?”  And they’re afraid to ask because they are sleeping with their partner.

Let’s be frank.  Truth can be painful.  And change can be excruciating.  But sometimes we get so focused on the negative, that we forget the positive.

The same passage that says that we should not be unequally yoked, says that God will be a Father to us, and we his sons and daughters.

The same passage that says that we should flee sexual immorality says that Christ has given us his Holy Spirit to dwell in us.  That we are his temples.

These are the things we should focus on.

So let us not be afraid to ask what a scripture means.  Let’s embrace it.  Let’s live it.  And while there may be pain in the short run, in the long run, we will find blessing.


About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください:
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