Luke 9:43b-45 (CEV)
While everyone was still amazed at what Jesus was doing, he said to his disciples, 44 “Pay close attention to what I am telling you! The Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies.” 45 But the disciples did not know what he meant. The meaning was hidden from them. They could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask.
Have you ever read something and been completely confused by it? Maybe something you were trying to understand for school, or something from a manual for work? (Me, me, me! So many times!)
Have you ever wanted to understand something, but been afraid to ask? Maybe something you were trying to understand for school, or something from a manual for work? Maybe something someone was trying to teach you – especially if it was a manager who you didn’t want to give the wrong impression to? (Oh, pick me, pick me!)
I hate letting on that I don’t understand something, and I have lots of ways of trying to gloss over my failure to understand … I do tend to figure it out eventually, but I can totally relate to this idea of reading something and being confused by what it means. Let’s face it … I’m not even halfway done these studies on the book of Luke and the number of times I’ve read a passage and gone, “what does that mean???” have already been in the range of multiple dozens!
So today Jesus, having just come down the mountain from the transfiguration, gathers all of the disciples together to tell them the news – the Son of Man (and they’ve already figured out that means him) will be handed over to his enemies.”
And unlike so many other things that Jesus says that I puzzle over and scratch my head for ages on, this seems so straight forward, and yet Luke tells us that the “meaning was hidden from them. They could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask.”
So it got me thinking about what we do when we don’t understand something. Some of us bluster and prevaricate (beat around the bush) trying to fill up the space so that nobody notices that we don’t understand. Some of us get very quiet and hope that nobody will ask us a direct question, in case they discover that we don’t understand. Some of us become defensive – we assume that the other person is deliberately obscuring the information to try to make us look bad. And I’m sure the list goes on.
But it interests me that Luke says, “they were afraid to ask.” I wonder what would have happened if they had asked?
Asking isn’t easy.
Asking exposes our failings and our weaknesses.
Asking reveals the fact that we don’t understand what’s going on, and that opens us up to the possibility of ridicule and rejection.
But I think that maybe this is here for a reason.
I think it might remind us of the importance of choosing a humble posture. Of assuming that we don’t know everything yet and that’s okay. Of assuming that if we ask, Jesus will care enough to answer. Of assuming that not knowing might actually be an opportunity to go deeper with Jesus then knowing ever could.
And I say that because that has been my experience as I’ve worked on this study. Every time I’ve run into a spot that I didn’t know I’ve had to stop and ask Jesus to show me what the point of it is … not just for me but for us as a community. Every time I’ve had to adopt a humble posture – I’ve had to become honest about just how little I understand, and just how much I still have the opportunity to discover and grow. Every time I’ve had to accept that I might only find out some of what is there, and so I will have to approach my writing with the possibility that I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I can offer what I do know.
So I think that this reminder of things that are hidden – this reminder of disciples too scared to ask for help – might be a really good reminder for us to adopt a humble posture and go and ask Jesus to teach us. To help us to understand him better, to understand the life that he’s calling us to live more deeply, and to become more capable of seeking out the answers to the things that are still hidden from us.Journal Questions:
- How do you respond to feeling confused by what’s going on? Do you bluster? Get quiet? Become defensive?
- What if it was okay not to know?
- What if it could be an opportunity?
- How would that change things?