I don’t get it!

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Mark 9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. 

Jesus has been repeatedly telling his disciples that he must die, but would rise again. And repeatedly they don’t understand. It never occurs to them to take him literally because, frankly, Jesus often speaks in parables, euphemisms or analogies – especially when speaking to the crowds. But then Jesus would often take his disciples aside and explain what he meant. This, however, is not one of those times. Jesus isn’t teaching the crowds, so one would expect Jesus’ teaching here to be clear and easily understood by all. Nope.

And to be fair, the disciples are a bit gun-shy at this point. Jesus has repeatedly rebuked them for their lack of understanding. I suppose they are tired of feeling stupid or being called out in public. So when they are again puzzled by Jesus’ teaching they “were afraid to ask him”.

I don’t think Jesus intended to shut down his disciples by rebuking them, but that’s what happened. Maybe Jesus was a bit harsh with them. Maybe their pride got in the way and they didn’t want to risk looking bad in front of their peers. Maybe the enemy was whispering in their ears to stop asking. I don’t know. What I do know is that our Lord never wants us to stop asking. I’m reminded of Matthew 7:7

7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

Lord Jesus, give us grace that we might not get discouraged when we don’t understand. Because the truth is, we often don’t understand. We don’t know what you’re trying to teach us. We don’t understand what’s happening around us. We don’t know what we should do or say in difficult situations. Help us to persevere through seasons of confusion and doubt. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

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