“They did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask him” Mark 9:32
It can be very difficult to communicate with someone who is not “on the same page” with regard to a particular subject matter. There can be misunderstanding among people because of this. No one views and comprehends their world from a vacuum or blank sheet. Jesus’ disciples were not listening to Jesus from a blank sheet either. They had been taught in the synagogues by the Rabbis.
When Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain their heads were filled with the teachings of the Rabbis. Much of it was very good but some was not helpful. When they arrived high on the mountain Jesus was transformed before their eyes and His glory shone through (v 3). In addition, Moses and Elijah appeared before them speaking with Jesus concerning His approaching death. Peter recognised that this is what the Scriptures taught; that Elijah would appear prior to the establishing of the earthly kingdom. What he had not been taught and did not understand was that there was still other Scripture to be fulfilled before the earthly kingdom would be established (cf. Isaiah 53).
On this occasion the Father spoke audibly and directly to the disciples. This may be the only time He did this, so it must also be very important. It was a short message but one we would profit to take notice of: “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (v 7). The disciples had heard other teachers but now they must listen only to what Jesus was saying if they were to correctly understand and be prepared for what was soon to happen. Before the earthly kingdom would come Jesus must die and rise again (vv 9, 31).
The disciples had no idea what He was speaking about. The Rabbis had not taught them of a Messiah who would die and rise again so they dismissed it as too hard to understand or irrelevant. Jesus wanted them to understand this future event so that they would be prepared and not panic or despair when the event occurred. They dismissed His words even though they had just heard the Father say, “Hear Him.”
We can only correctly understand the times in which we live when we “Hear Him.” Jesus and the Bible give us a huge amount of information concerning our times and future times and events. These will prepare us so that we do not panic or despair when they come to pass. When Jesus was taken to be crucified the disciples fled because they had not heard and understood His words but were still held in the grip previous teaching. They were afraid to ask Jesus what He meant when He spoke of rising from the dead and therefore they remained in ignorance. We have no reason to follow their example. God has spoken, Jesus has spoken and we have His word to prepare us. Will we “Hear Him?”
Current world events may lead a person to worry or despair but when we hear what Jesus, the prophets and Paul have said regarding the latter days we can observe that God has foretold all these things in order to prepare us. It is essential that we come humbly to His word at least daily and ask Him to correct us where we have unwittingly misunderstood or dismissed His word.