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Bible Gem 1122 - The Disciples Didn't Connect the Dots (Luke 18:31-34)

July 9, 2019

 

Many Bibles and Gospel harmonies give this passage the title, The Third Prediction of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. In fact, it is the seventh time in Luke's Gospel. Luke records two occasions either side of the transfiguration, before and after (Luke 9:22 and then again in 9:44). But there are five other times when this is recorded in Luke's Gospel. Namely 5:35, 12:50 13:32 ff and 17:25, as well as this occasion. How many times do you have to hear it guys, before you "get it"?

 

Note Luke's additions focus on this issue. He reminds us that all these things had been written by the prophets about what would happen. But the disciples just don't connect the dots, despite the number of times that Jesus has told them what will happen to Him. It is not that they don't understand the words. The concepts are easy enough to understand. It is all very well for us in retrospect to appear to be wise. Some people through the years have commented on how thick the disciples must have been. I don't think they were especially dense. I think the issue for the disciples, and in fact, the whole nation and the experts in the Law, Pharisees and religious leaders, was that they weren't expecting this kind of Messiah. Who could imagine God coming to die for His people? That is what catches everyone completely by surprise. As I have said many times, they were hanging out for Messiah, Son of David (The Reigning King) and in fact what they got first, was Messiah, Son of Joseph (The Suffering Servant). None of them saw that one coming. Despite it all being there in the Word of God, they simply totally missed it. Be careful, they were not any thicker than we are. We are dealing with the God who likes to surprise. It is easy for our pre-conceptions and assumptions to cloud our eyes to see the truth that was always before us, but we just didn’t ever see it. 

 

Jesus' predictions about the manner of His death and the fact of His resurrection was not the first time this information had been spoken. 

Jesus says:

He will be handed over to the Gentiles (the Romans, the occupying authority, foreigners)

He will be mocked

He will be mistreated

He will be spat upon

He will be whipped (scourged) 

He will be killed

He will rise again on the third day

 

I am not going to unpack each of these verbs now. If I had been two weeks earlier, I may well have done it in time for Easter. Now I will leave it for the later chapters of Luke and the details of the crucifixion.It is all there in the ancient writings, written by the prophets of old. But Luke says the disciples understood none of this. The meaning of this statement was hidden from them. Now what does that mean? Jesus tells them, "All these things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished". It is not new news; it has been written for centuries, but they had just never seen it in those terms.

 

Note also, this doesn’t say: everything the prophets wrote will take place in Jerusalem. Rather, it is saying all that is written concerning the SON of MAN will be fulfilled. The fact that Jesus came to die is clear throughout Scripture, but still they missed it. It is not that the meaning of words per se, are hard to understand. It is the significance of the words that were not grasped. They didn’t put it all together, comprehend the implications, connect all the dots together. Their "understanding" was clouded by their own interpretations and preconceptions. They were pre-set to think a certain way. They couldn't believe that such things would happen to the Messiah. This was all so utterly different from what they expected and what they had been taught. There was no place in their thinking for the possibility of the death of Messiah. It was unthinkable. 

 

The significance of it all was hidden from them. Hidden by whom? God? No! Was it hidden by satan? Maybe, in fact the Word of God tells us that satan has blinded the eyes of those who don't believe, but it is also true that he seeks to keep the truth from those who believe as well. But I personally think God's work in the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah totally blindsided the devil as well. However, I think those responsible for the hiding were the disciples themselves. It wasn't that God didn’t want them to know. Jesus told them seven times. Rather their reluctance to accept it was what kept the truth from them. Their previous experience and teaching kept them from the truth and the truth from them. How often it is like that with us all. Be careful. Don't let your preconceptions keep you from God's truth. The verb in this case is "past perfect passive", which carries the sense this had been hidden from them and it was still being hidden, even though it had been revealed seven times. 


One more thing I will comment on before I stop for today. Luke places the story of the dispute between the disciples about who was the greatest, after the Transfiguration and the revelation of what would happen to Jesus (Luke 9:46). However, Matthew and Mark record the story of the Sons of Zebedee wanting to sit either side of Jesus around the throne, following this segment on the prediction of his death and resurrection. They position the story following this segment on the prediction of his death and resurrection. A strategic place to put it, filled with inference. No wonder the disciples miss the point. They find it hard to recognize the importance of the moment. When Jesus reveals important strategic things to help their understanding of the kingdom, they are too busy being caught up in petty issues. It happens time and time again. Food for thought. How many times do you miss momentous things because you are distracted by the trivial?

 

 

Difficulties in your life don't come to destroy you, but to help you realize your hidden potential.

 

A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one. Heraclitus of Ephesus

 

Don’t make simple things complicated in the effort to preserve your theology.

 

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego. The self is more distant than any star. G. K. Chesterton 

 

Our world is in trouble because we are too serious about trivial matters & flippant about things of eternal significance. Rick Warren

 

 

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