Scripture teaches us that we will not be allowed to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).  This was put into practice by none other than our Lord Himself when He began to prepare His disciples for what He was going to face.  In the Gospel of Mark we see three revelations to the disciples of varying levels of information.  The first included that He must suffer many things, be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes, be killed and then after three days, rise again (Mark 8:31).  The second included these elements, but added the aspect of betrayal (Mark 9:31).  The final revelation has all the previous and then adds the indignities that would be endured by Jesus.  Mark 10:34 records, “And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill {Him,} and three days later He will rise again.” (NAS)  Each of these statements of Jesus increased in detail about what was in His future, but only that which could be accepted by the disciples was presented to them. 

With this understanding in hand, let’s look at the differing reactions by the disciples.  In the first occurrence, Peter was extremely vocal in his intention in protecting his friend and teacher.  “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” (Matthew 16:22)   The second time Jesus recounted His future the disciples did not understand and were very much afraid to ask, perhaps due to Peter’s previous encounter.  Upon the third disclosure, Jesus was approached by James and John with their request to sit at His right and left hand when He comes into His glory.  His response to them seems to indicate their inability to face the events Jesus would soon encounter.

Each message was essentially the same except that more details were added as the disciples were able to ‘accept’ them.  Had Jesus presented them with the final message initially, it is entirely possible that they would have simply done what many do today, throw in the towel, just give up…  No, that’s not what happened.  The master teacher knew how to relate to His students then and still does today.  We must stay the course, as we learn more and more of the God Who loves His creation and has made possible the reconciliation only He could.  Step by step let us draw near to Him with boldness and confidence loving Him because He first loved us!

Copyright © 2010, Nolan P. Rutter

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