Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 27 July 2015

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. Mark 9, verses 30-32.

Have you ever been afraid of an answer?

When the Powerball or Mega Millions lotto drawings get big, I usually buy a ticket.   I know: it’s a form of gambling and a voluntary tax all in one.   But it’s also a huge return on investment.   If I win anything, even if it’s only $5, it’s a return on my initial investment in the percentage of hundreds; can you imagine the return if I ever won the real jackpot?   Yet I’m always reluctant to check on the numbers after each drawing.   It’s as if I’m fantasizing about my life as a millionaire and I don’t want reality to pop the bubble.

And have you ever asked your spouse or significant other a tough question that you just knew you didn’t want answered (even though you knew you needed an answer)? “How much did it cost?”   “Are you angry with me?”   “Is it love or something else?”   Forget the lotto:   these are the real hard answers to hear, these are the times when it gets tough to live in the real world.

Jesus was leveling with His disciples.   He was telling them plainly what was soon going to happen to Him. Before this, He had mentioned His passion and resurrection, but had seemed almost oblique, mysterious.   This time, while they were walking through Galilee, He spoke plainly with them. No sugar-coating, no extra adjectives, no poetic language:   Jesus spoke plainly and told them the priests would take Him, murder Him, and watch Him bring Himself back to life.

The disciples’ reaction: huh?

They were afraid out of ignorance.   Or was it that they were afraid out of ignorance and real fear?   Jesus was challenging their entire belief system by saying the leaders of their church would murder the very person they had come to know as God Immanuel. If I’m Peter, James, or John, my reaction would have been, “say that again, Jesus.   Would you mind repeating that please?”   And that was their reaction.   They didn’t know what to think or say. In part it was out of just plain not understanding, and let’s give them the benefit of the doubt in how they learned of this news.   They had watched Him drive out nasty demons, then went on walkabout.   They’re befuddled, busy, and even burdened with weariness.   And now Jesus is predicting His death at the hands of the very people entrusted with teaching God’s chosen people about God’s love.

Huh?

But let’s keep it real too.   They were afraid.   This was tough stuff to hear, much tougher than wondering if I won the Powerball or how much that new car would cost. If what Jesus was saying was true, then everything God’s people knew would be thrown on its head.   Faith, religion, law, society, economy: toss them all around and something new would result, something unknown. If that didn’t scare them, what would?   If it doesn’t give you trepidation as well, what will?

Have you ever been afraid of an answer?

Lord, I am sometimes afraid of what You tell me.   Comfort my fear and overcome them in me.

Read Mark 9, verses 30-36.

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