While recognizing that Christ’s death and the events immediately surrounding it pertain uniquely to Him, it becomes tempting to lapse into a sense that none of the incidents occurring around that time have any direct application to or parallel in our lives. But nothing could be further from the truth. A case in point is the account recorded in Luke’s Gospel of Christ’s ascent to Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion. “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.’ But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said” (18:31-; cf., Matt. 20:17-19; Mk. 10:32-34). Although it is certainly true that we cannot foretell the future as Christ did at that time, other portions of the account may and should be applied to our lives.
1. We should both know and have confidence in Scripture. Christ instructed His disciples, not on the basis of what He might have known inherently, but on the basis of the scriptures both He and they had been taught: “all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.” He then listed in some detail events that were about to be fulfilled. Christ demonstrated a vast knowledge and confidence in the Word of God, knowing that soon, upon His ascension, His disciples would require that same knowledge and confidence. We, too, should have a commanding knowledge of God’s Word and complete assurance that every teaching is true, that every promise will be met, and that every prophecy will come to pass. The Scripture does not simply instruct us in these matters: it presents us with a Christ who patterned them in His life for our sakes.
2. We should obey Scripture. The specific prophecies that Christ knew and trusted so well on this occasion were ones that would require His participation in order to fulfill—at the utmost cost to Himself. Obedience meant, not a momentary inconvenience, but obedience unto death. Just as His confidence remained steadfast so too did His obedience. He never wavered from what was required of Him. The true test and seal of our faith is obedience. A faith that fails to go beyond mental assent or verbal affirmation is suspect at best. As Peter reminds us, “you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (I Pet. 2:21). Most of our obedience entails little suffering, but Peter wants us to know that even if suffering is demanded, we are called to obey just as our Savior did. How much more ought we to be obedient when so little is required?
3. We should teach Scripture without becoming discouraged. The events recorded in our text occurred at the very end of Christ’s earthly ministry. He had been with the disciples for more than three years. They had been taught daily by Him; they had seen the many miracles He performed; they had witnessed His perfect unblemished character. Yet, on the cusp of His departure, Christ’s disciples “understood none of these things” that He was teaching them. The fact that this was true, and the fact that Christ knew their response before He began to teach them these things did not discourage Him from preparing them by imparting the truth of God to them. Similarly, we should faithfully proclaim the truth, patiently instruct others without demanding specific results (for our satisfaction) and without being discouraged by lack of results. Christ knew that the Word would not return “empty, without accomplishing” what the Father intended it to accomplish (Isa. 55:11).
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