Luke 9:43-45 (ESV)
And all were astonished at the majesty of God.
But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
This passage has a wondrous paradox. Jesus emphasizes what He’s telling them with, “Let these words sink into your ears,” yet they did not understand. Furthermore, their failure to understand was by design; it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. What’s going on?
There are two contrasting things happening here because of two contrasting purposes. Jesus emphatically announces what’s going to happen so that when it does happen they’ll remember and connect the dots. The encouragement they’ll get from this is essential, as the events would otherwise be crushingly depressing. Remembering that Jesus had said this would happen, and had said why, will give them some sense that everything’s OK, just when everything seems not OK.
But it’s also essential that they connect the dots later – not now. At this point in their spiritual maturation, they can’t handle the truth. If they knew what was coming they might say something stupid, or even do something stupid. Look at Peter’s immature reaction in Mark 8:31-33a (ESV).
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan!”
This explains a lot. We often wish we could see now what we will be able to see when we get to heaven.
But we’re not ready for that.
This is why Christian service is so important; it’s one of the key ways that we get ready (grow in Christ, so that we can handle advanced things). When we’re in the middle of doing something – and dealing with the challenges that are sure to come up – we learn to depend on God.
And God often provides those challenges. Our works of charity and service glorify the Lord, but His agenda of growing us never ends. He’s relentless in His pursuit of our sanctification. Some trial or another always seems to be coming.
And that makes our service even more glorious.
So, ask God to bless our service, not by making it easy, but by shining His face upon us.
Ask Him to teach us, grow us and sanctify us though our service to Him.
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