Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
They did not know what he was talking about.
There are times when we just don’t get it. My dad is famous for telling jokes that make you think it’s something true and real and then everyone laughs because he “got you.” I think as younger boys my brothers and I desperately wanted to “get dad.” But, it seemed as though he always “got it.”
The disciples just did not understand. The text says that its meaning was hidden from them. I think that might be Luke being kind, after the fact. You know, a tip of the hat to his buddies. Because he couldn’t really say, “And could you believe these dudes? They totally didn’t understand that Jesus was talking about his crucifixion and resurrection. What a bunch of dummies.”
My guess is that the disciples didn’t “get it” because it was so far outside what their expectation was for the Messiah. At this point they had declared their faith that he was the Messiah and that he was the Son of God. But, at this point they were also still largely thinking in terms of the political. They hadn’t quite grasped the mystical, the universal, the fully integrated conception of what it was that Jesus was about to do. In their minds, he was still going to overthrow the very real oppression of the Romans through political means.
Jesus was about something else.
He was about self-sacrifice as a means by which to overthrow the powers and principalities and sin-sickness of the world. Jesus was bringing the people back from their exiled existence so that they were reconciled with God. He was making good on promises that God had made thousands of years before.
Jesus was showing them another way.
And they just didn’t get it.
Sadly, neither do we.
The way of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration is still through the means of self-sacrifice. To live this way demands that we set aside ourselves and in a very real way submit to another in love. It means that we choose the good of neighbor over our own perceived good. When we do so, it allows us to move toward this kind of cross-centered love that is full of grace, mercy, and truth.
Perhaps, for us, the second half of this story is as much about seeing the way of Jesus as it is about physical healing. Perhaps, you and I need to ask Jesus to help us see his way.