“Let these WORDS sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying. Luke 9:44-45
Before His death, Jesus spoke very frankly with His disciples about the coming events. He was going to be betrayed, handed over, crucified, but He would rise again after three days. Everyone who heard Him understood the WORDS He was saying, but none of them grasped the reality of them. Even as the events were unfolding before them, the disciples struggled with how things were playing out. Instead of clinging to their faith in Christ, in who He is and what they had already witnessed from Him, that faith gave way to fear for their very lives. They heard the hatred in the mob’s cries and the religious leaders’ hypocritical disdain. They saw the brutality and the scorn of the Romans. That very natural fear led to doubts about this man they had given up everything to follow. Had they misunderstood? Was this the way it was supposed to be?
Surely, some of the longest hours in their lives were those between the Upper Room to the empty tomb.
The Resurrection changed all that. The doubts and fears gave way to the boldness and fire at Pentecost and beyond. The WORDS that Jesus said became real. Things that they struggled to grasp in those hours in between made sense at last in ways that were beyond their imagination.
Even now, with the Holy Spirit living in us, with the completed canon of Scripture readily available to us and with 2000 years of church history to draw upon, we have the same trouble grasping the WORDS of Jesus.
Toward the end of His earthly ministry, He said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9) And we struggle to understand why culture is so hostile to our values.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24:7) And yet we trust treaties and military buildups to protect us and depend on science and technology to fix everything else.
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12) We’re still shocked at scandals that reveal the depth of our self-absorption and misogyny.
Jesus told us these things would happen, and now we are living in the in-between time like the disciples in those hours between crucifixion and resurrection. We wrestle with questions – Why doesn’t God do something? Is He even paying attention? Why is everything a struggle?
But when He comes again, and He will just as surely as He resurrected, everything will make sense. The questions and the frustrations will melt into worship and affirmation that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His words will be fulfilled in ways outside the bounds of our imagination.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Peace. He has overcome. We’ll know exactly what those WORDS mean. Just a little longer.