Thursday, January 23, 2020 -
“Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.’ And they were deeply grieved,” (Matthew 17:22-23). Mark’s account of the disciples’ reaction to this statement of Christ says, “But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him” (Mark 9:32). Luke clarifies even further, being the historian he was, “and it was concealed from them so that they may not perceive it and they were afraid to ask about this statement” (Luke 9:45).
Now it is understandable why they would be confused about the significance of the resurrection Jesus predicted, for the Jews believed the soul departs from the physical body in the grave. Of course, we know Jesus had spoken to them already about the resurrection of His physical body (John 2:19-21) which was an “ah-ha” moment for them when this ultimate proof of Christ’s deity actually happened (John 2:22).
But why were the disciples afraid to ask Jesus about what He was speaking about in this instance? Well, the answer to that question is hinted at in Matthew 16: 21-23, an event that took place weeks if not days before this one. In Matthew 16 we learn that “from that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Peter no doubt heard the word “killed” and became extremely alarmed. The first thing that came to my mind is that “he flipped out!” “And Peter took Him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You’” (Matthew 16:22). We know from the incident in the Garden of Gethsemane what a hot-head Peter was when it came to defending the Lord. He drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Christ.
“But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s’” (Matthew 16:23). Here I think we are clued in to why the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus to explain His death to them. Granted, Peter was being used by Satan to once again as a stumbling block, tempt Jesus to forego His necessary death for the sins of mankind. If you recall, Satan tried this himself back in Matthew 4:1-11, where the devil tempted Jesus by offering Him a short cut to glory, without the suffering! We know from Jesus’ prayer in the garden the suffering was not something Jesus, in His human nature, was looking forward to. Jesus was addressing Peter, but the words were intended for Satan, but Peter heard Christ calling him “Satan,” for rebuking him for predicting His death.
Who wouldn’t be afraid, having heard or even known about that discourse, to discuss further this topic with Jesus?