Then he took to him the twelve, and said to them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem…
The disciples' failure to understand the Master suggests an always timely question for the followers of Jesus: What misunderstandings of Christ may still be lingering in Christianity? The question is the more pertinent and the more necessary because one reason for the disciples' failure to perceive the things that were said by Jesus on His way to the Cross, was the knowledge of Him which they already possessed. Two truths in particular which they had learned better than any one else concerning Jesus, they allowed to stand in the way of their further understanding of Him. They had been taught His wonderful power. They had been eye-witnesses of His mighty works. They began to believe that Jesus could do anything. This truth of the power of the Son of Man they were ready to receive, and they stopped with the knowledge of it. He who had power from God could not be taken and killed by the Pharisees. So they grasped with eager hope the truth that Jesus was the promised Messiah of Israel, and missed the deeper truth of His character, that God so loved the world. Then again the truth which they had learned better than any others of Jesus' wonderful kindness, and justice, and humanity, in their partial view of it, may have hidden from their eyes the full revelation which He would have them perceive of His Divine life. How could He who had power over death, and who had so pitied two sisters that He had restored their brother to them, and who had enveloped their lives in a friendship of wonderful daily thoughtfulness — how could He, having all power, go away from them, leave them comfortless, throw them back again upon the world, and disappoint their high hopes of Him? No wonder Peter thought it was impossible, and even said impulsively, "Be it far from Thee, Lord!" The truth of Christ's friendship which they did know prevented them from understanding the diviner secret of God's sacrificial love for the world, which they might have learned. So they who knew the Lord best, misunderstood Him the most; and Jesus went before His disciples in a deeper purpose and a diviner thought than they perceived. Our text reads like a devout apology of the disciples for their singular misunderstanding of Jesus Christ. The providence of God had taught them their mistake. And very instructive for us is the method by which God corrected the false perception of the disciples, and opened their eyes to true and larger knowledge of the Lord. They overcame their misunderstanding, and were brought to better understanding of Jesus Christ, through the trial and the task of their faith. These two, trials and tasks, are God's ways of correcting men's imperfect faiths. For you will recall how those disciples, at the time of the crucifixion, and while they were waiting in Jerusalem, learned in their disenchantment, and were taught through that fearful strain and trial of their faith, as they had never been before, of what Spirit Jesus was, and what His real mission to this world was; and thus they were prepared to see and to become apostles of the risen Lord. That trial of their faith, while Jesus was mocked, and scourged, and delivered to death, and crucified between two thieves, and buried — all the light blotted from their skies, all the proud ambition broken in their souls — yet in His death a new, strange expectancy awakened in their hearts, and on the third day a vision seen which made all things a new world to them — that trial of their faith was the Lord's method of teaching the disciples what before had remained hidden from them even in the plainest words of Jesus. And then this knowledge of the new, larger truth of Christ's work was rounded out, and filled full of a steady, clear light to them, by the task immediately given them to do in the name of the crucified and risen Lord. They learned at Pentecost what Christianity was to be.
(N. Smyth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.