His coming death in Jerusalem was difficult for the disciples to comprehend. Jesus had been very specific about the reason for their journey. Jerusalem was fixed in his sight and Luke emphasized his passionate pursuit of the Holy City. Those closest to him no doubt wrestled with the reality of his words. Just the same, Jesus had also reminded them of his resurrection. They heard the horrific prediction of his death. But, they also heard the Good News of his glorious resurrection. Luke wrote---
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of
Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Luke 9: 21-22, ESV
Later, still before their entry to Jerusalem, Jesus told them about what would be happening when they arrived. Luke recorded it---
And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and
everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.
For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated
and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will
rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and
they did not grasp what was said.
Luke 18: 31-34, ESV
Surely the reality of his coming death was news they could hardly comprehend, truth so overwhelming that the final phrase about being raised was overshadowed by their grief. Shocking news does that to us mere humans. I remember the day I was diagnosed with advanced stage bladder cancer. The doctor said death was possible if the cancer wasn't taken from my body ASAP. He added that he thought he could remove the tumors and treat the cancer. After the word death, however, I didn't hear the possibility of cure. Death has a way of intruding on every other reality.
Along the way Jesus had taught them about what God could do. Right before the third announcement of his death Jesus had told them that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven (Luke 18: 25). We humans love our stuff and will rarely set it aside for the sake of the Kingdom. Anyway, this segment aimed them at the work of God.
Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible
with man is possible with God.”
Luke 18: 26-27, ESV
Jesus wanted them to see beyond Good Friday. He wanted them to realize that his death in Jerusalem wasn't the end of the story. The suffering, pain, torment, and immediate opposition would end in his miraculous resurrection from the dead. He had instructed them about anxiety and worry (see Luke 12: 22-34) and told them frankly that he would be raised on the third day. Devastated by the news of his coming death they could not grasp the Good News of his resurrection.
Seeing beyond the moment is often difficult for our species. Emotional stress, physical pain, and spiritual immaturity can dominate and rule over us. Right now the weight of Covid-19 and the dangers of infection blind us to the reality that Sunday is coming, and the promise of life ever-lasting. But, unless God brings this universe to an end, Sunday is still coming. This glorious day reminds us of our citizenship in heaven, and the joys of eternity. God, please give us the hope of seeing beyond the moment.
Tomorrow we'll reflect on the blessings of going up.