The apostles were mystified. Jesus had a way of saying things that sometimes enlightened, sometimes rebuked, and sometimes bewildered them. On this particular occasion, the latter was the case.
Here’s what the Lord had said: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him, and the third day, He will rise again” (Luke 18:31-33).
God’s word says the apostles understood none of these things (Luke 18:34). The intriguing question is, “why not?” Had the prophets not been clear about the suffering Messiah? Indeed, they had (cf. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Psalm 69). Had the apostles not heard Jesus speak this way before? Of course they had (cf. Luke 9:44). What, then, was the reason the apostles did not understand the Savior’s mission?
The simple answer is this: Jesus was not living up to the expectations the apostles put on Him. The twelve, like the majority of their countrymen, expected Jesus to rise up with a vast army and return Israel to prominence among the nations. It was this misguided expectation that kept the apostles from seeing the horrific and glorious truth that Jesus was plainly speaking to them: He was about to die for them. Their eyes were closed to truth because they were looking for a different kind of Savior.
Things aren’t much different today. Some religious people are still looking for Jesus to return and set up an earthly kingdom. Others are looking for Jesus to rid them of their financial debt. Still others expect the Lord to, “perform a miracle” in their lives so that they can have abundant wealth, happiness, and freedom from sickness. Many people today are looking for a different kind of Savior. Like the apostles 2000 years ago, these folk just won’t open their eyes to the real mission of Jesus.
Here’s a grand thought, however: Jesus didn’t leave His apostles with their eyes closed! After His death, burial, and resurrection, the Lord appeared in Jerusalem where the eleven were gathered.
Jesus said to His men: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).
It was like a splash of cold water in their faces. The Bible says, “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). As these apostles opened their eyes to truth, they began to live fruitful lives in the service of the Master.
Truth can only change us if it can first reach us. As long as they had their, ”great expectations,” Christ’s message was not heard by those apostles. They, like us, needed to open their eyes. They needed teachable spirits — spirits marked by that enduring and challenging prayer, “not my will, but Thine be done!”
Life is all about learning to see the world from God’s perspective. We do that by delving into His word and allowing it to change us. What about you? Are you learning to see things the way He sees them? Are your eyes open?
— John Baker