30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 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.”32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
(Mark 9:30-32 NIV)
Summarizing quickly, we saw Jesus reveal His glory to three of His disciples during the transfiguration. Coming down from that experience, we saw Jesus’ frustration with His disciples when they tried to do ministry under their own power, rather than be fully reliant on God and His might working through them. Finally, we saw Jesus cast a demon out of a boy while teaching the boy’s father a faith lesson along the way.
As we step into today’s passage, we see Jesus and His disciples on the move again. Mark tells us that Jesus is headed for Capernaum (v. 33) by way of Galilee (v. 30). On this trip, Jesus is not ministering to the crowds; in fact, He is avoiding crowds and cities altogether.
Jesus needed alone time, face time with His disciples, to teach them about the coming events. From this last ministry test with the failure to cast out the demon, the disciples were humiliated, vulnerable, and at the same time teachable. Jesus used this opportunity to tell them more about His betrayal, death, and resurrection.
When Jesus said “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men”, He was telling His disciples that He would suffer betrayal, mistreatment, and abandonment at the hands of cruel men. Obviously, these disciples loved Jesus and did not want to hear Jesus saying these things. If you have ever had a friend give you some heartbreaking news, your first reaction is often to not ask any more questions. You don’t want to know any more information. And that is where Jesus’ disciples were experiencing.
And yet, as Jesus told His disciples about these coming events, Jesus was telling them that all these terrible things would happen with God’s full knowledge and Divine permission. This was not just a human act of betrayal, abuse, and death, but the very fulfillment of God’s plan to redeem all humanity. Jesus was not boasting about His impending martyrdom and hints of death by crucifixion, but rather preparing them for what was to come. When Jesus closed by saying He would rise again, that was too much – the disciples didn’t understand, nor did they want to understand.
May we not retreat from hard times or difficult circumstances. May we grasp the full reality of the Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection not just in our heads, but deep in our souls as we seek to live it out in our daily lives.
May we seek to live out the whole Gospel of Christ, not just the parts we like or understand.