Matthew 17:22-23 (NIV) When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
Jesus never said anything purely for shock value, although much of what He said was shocking. But it only shocked those whose minds and hearts were set on earthly things, because they were stated simply and factually from a heavenly perspective.
Jesus’ time was very short. They were already headed south to Jerusalem, and Jesus knew with crystal clarity all that was waiting for Him there. The disciples needed to know, too. And they needed to know that all that would happen was not going to be evil winning out over good, or even the end of Messianic dreams for Jesus and His followers. It was all God’s plan being worked out precisely as foretold in the Scriptures.
But the disicples, without exception, stopped listening part way through. At the words, “they will kill Him,” their ears turned off completely, leaving their hearts sad and confused.
If they had heard “and on the third day He will be raised to life,” they would have been filled with curiosity instead, and the questions and requests for information would have come pouring out. But there was none of that at all.
Their minds had become filled with vivid scenarios of how Jesus would march into Jerusalem and proclaim Himself the Messiah to cheering crowds. Now, all they could hear Jesus saying was that those dreams were not going to come true. And the loss of their dreams set them on two very dangerous paths: the path of sadness and angst, and the path of trying to figure out how to get the plan back on track.
Jesus continued to tell His followers the truth about what was waiting for them in Jerusalem, but they never really got it. Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and death still caught them all off guard. But even though they didn’t get it yet, Jesus was laying a solid foundation that He would be able to point to later and to build on after His resurrection.
Father, sometimes I think we still don’t get it. We still build scenarios in our heads about our mission, our ministries, and even the end times, that can blind us and deafen us to the things that You are trying to tell us that run counter to the expectations that we have built for ourselves. Help us to keep our eyes and ears fully open to You, and to hold all thing in trust for You with a loose grip, so that You can change our direction or give us additional light any time You want. Amen.