It’s interesting to see our human brain’s bias for the negative. And this bias comes out even in the Bible. Jesus had just shown his glory in the Transfiguration. He followed this up with the miraculous healing of a boy possessed with a demon.
Yet, when all of this is done, the disciples are depressed. How can this be? Because for a second time, Jesus is predicting his death.
But not just his death. He’s also predicting his resurrection. Yes, he is preparing his disciples for both his death AND his resurrection.
But what do the hearts and minds of the disciples dwell on? Answer: Not the resurrection part!
“When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.’ And the disciples were filled with grief” (Matthew 17:22-23, NIV).
Jesus is full of truth. He wants his disciples to be ready, to know about his impending suffering and death. But, just as strongly he wants the disciples to be “ready” with hope. He will defeat death! This suffering will not be able to keep him down. The tomb itself will not be able to hold him back! Victory is assured!
But the disciples hear only the first part. They have no ears for the resurrection, no heart for the coming victory. They’re not ready yet.
It’s not just the disciples, is it? It’s interesting that even in a modern Bible translation with a sub-title for this section, you’ll most likely find something like this: “Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time” (These sub-titles are not part of the Holy Spirit’s inspired text; they’re simply editors’ “helps”).
Praise God that Jesus came not just to die. There’s an AND. He came to die AND rise. Life wins! Jesus replaces grief with hope. And this hope is not only for the life to come. It’s also a very powerful and sustaining hope for this life too! He who can defeat “Big Death” can certainly also defeat all the “little deaths” that we experience living in a death-filled world.
Joseph knew this. We see that in our reading today. We can, like Joseph, retrain our brains with that truth. We can begin to see the AND. While death is real, so is life. While sorrow is called for at times, so is joy. While suffering and defeat will happen, so will victory.
We’re not really ready, until we’re ready with hope.
Jesus, give me a smile today. You show us that even as we anticipate dark days to come, we can always look forward to a hopeful outcome–if not now, then in eternity. Your resurrection, Lord, is my hope and my everyday joy throughout life’s troubles and challenges.
Our Bible reading for Sunday, January 25, is Genesis 49:1 – 50:26, Matthew 17:14 – 18:9 and Psalm 15:1-5.
Header image based on "Obliging Smile and Desert Rose" by Bosma, CC by 2.0