As I look at this particular story, it is the last phrase in Luke’s account that strikes me.
The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. (34)
“This” and “its” of course is referring to Jesus’ telling them that he would be betrayed and crucified, and then rise again from the dead.
Luke’s words strike me because Jesus spoke so plainly. I really don’t see how they could possible misunderstand him. Yet, as clearly as Jesus spoke, they could not understand.
Perhaps one reason was that they simply weren’t ready to understand. And that’s true with many of us as we look at scripture. When we are young as Christians, some things are simply difficult to understand. But as we mature in our knowledge and our faith, we start to grasp the things God is telling us.
Perhaps there was some of this at work in the disciples, but I think there were other things as well.
For one thing, they didn’t want to understand. They didn’t want to believe that Jesus would die. And because they didn’t want to believe that he would die, any words concerning his death and resurrection went right past them.
For another, they were too focused on what they wanted, rather than what God’s will was. You only have to look at James’ and John’s request a few verses later to see that.
How often are we the same? We see something crystal clear in scripture, or God speaks to our heart so clearly that there should be no way that we can miss it, and yet we do.
Looking back, it should have been so clear to me that God was calling me to Japan. Time and again, people were telling me, “I can’t see you working at a regular desk job. I see you in ministry.” Or sometimes they said outright, “I can see you being a missionary in Japan.”
But because I had no interest in ever leaving Hawaii, no less going to Japan, I couldn’t see it for a long time.
And whenever I read passages like, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” my thought was always, “Well, God isn’t calling ME to do that.”
It took several years, and a lot of work on God’s part to actually turn my heart, but when he did, I found the joy of following him and doing what he has said.
And so will you if you’ll soften your heart to him.
So the question is, “Where is your heart? Have you blinded yourself to what God is saying to you? Or have you opened your heart completely to what God is telling you?”
May our words to our Lord always be, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”