Today's verses show us the great kindness of God in preparing us for the future. Jesus, with the cross always on His mind, was trying to prepare His disciples for what was to come. They were not yet ready to understand all He would face, but He wanted them to know that a crisis was coming and it would not be easy. "Let My words sink in," He told them. "You are going to need them later." It's not exactly how He said it, but is clearly what He meant. Let these words sink in because I am going to be arrested (delivered into the hands of men). If Jesus was not with them, they needed His words to be such a part of them that they could remember them when they needed them.
When Jesus said, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men," He knew what that meant. He knew that there would be an arrest, torture, crucifixion. None of that was a surprise to Him, and He not only came from heaven, knowing what was to come, He stayed all the way to the end. Scripture tells us that He persevered because of what came after the arrest, torture, crucifixion. The resurection, the pardon He purchased for all mankind, was worth what it cost Him. Knowing that, He endured.
Do not miss this point. Jesus told His disciples to remember His words and make them a part of themselves. He did not tell them why. In fact, He intentionally kept the knowledge from them. Who could continue to follow if they had know what would happen? Likely no one. If they were allowed to go through the entire difficult time from His arrest until His resurection, they would be ready for anything, and they would need to be, but they needed the time of discipleship first. They needed the foundation He was giving them. Looking back, they would remember His words and understand what they meant. For the present, however, hints were all they needed.
It's interesting to me that the disciples knew they did not understand Jesus' words, but did not ask for an explanation, as they had before. They must have realized there was something ominous in the words, because they were afraid to ask. Apparently, they felt they were better off not knowing, and it must have been true.
Looking back over my years of following Jesus, I can see many times that He allowed a difficulty that would mold and change me into someone more like Christ. Had He informed me of all I would face, I might have balked and refused to go farther. Might? I almost certainly would have refused to proceed. His kindness allowed me to see only the portion of the path I needed in order to press ahead. Perhaps you, too, have experienced the grace of an incomplete understanding of the future that allowed you to go to a hard time and carried you through. During this week of thanksgiving, let us not fail to give thanks for those hard times that molded us into the disciples He intended and the grace that has carried us through.
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