Mark 9:30-32 (ESV)
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.
Jesus and the disciples passed through Galilee. This was the place where Jesus grew up and spent most of his life, but now they quickly went through without letting anyone know they were there. Jesus knew his time was short, so his heart and mind were fixed toward Jerusalem and the cross. Jesus announced three things to his disciples: 1. He would be rejected (“delivered into the hands of men”), 2. He would be executed (“they will kill him”), and 3. He would rise from the dead (“after three days he will rise”). Jesus carried the pain of knowing the humans he created would soon treat him with absolute cruelty. And there was no way out for him as this was God’s plan. The disciples didn’t get what Jesus was talking about. Just think, even the twelve closest to Jesus were partially blinded to what he taught. It didn’t make sense to them, and they were afraid to ask what he meant. They may not have wanted explanation. They tried to hold on to their hopes for their Messiah, but were perplexed about how things would work in light of the information Jesus gave them regarding what would soon happen. The two just didn’t fit.
Jesus again told the disciples- really reminding them- of the rejection, suffering, and death he was about to experience. Jesus knew exactly what would happen. And yet, he had to move forward. The disciples didn’t realize that Jesus was establishing a pattern for them to follow as well. We all must admit that this life includes various degrees of rejection, suffering, and death. And it’s hard to suffer and die. It’s hard to let go of things that are pleasurable and bring joy, and instead embrace the way of the cross. But we must move forward too. We can either humbly open our hands to God now and learn to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, or we can hold tight and have a difficult time when it’s our turn to die to whatever the Lord is asking us to let go of. If you are struggling with your willingness to let go of whatever he is asking from you, pray for courage and strength. Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. Like Jesus, may we be confident that God has great things ahead for all who put their trust in him.