Mark 9:30-32 NRSV

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

It is in the midst of living that we must confront the reality of death—the death of loved ones, of dear friends and acquaintances, our own death and why Jesus had to die.

Our reaction to those who are close to death, and to Jesus’ death, may be much like the disciples’ response when Jesus told them repeatedly, “Listen carefully. I am going to suffer and die, and on the third day I will rise again.” It didn’t make sense to them so they pushed His words aside or tried to dispute them, not wanting to believe what they heard.  How could his words be true?  What he said didn’t fit into their plans, and certainly didn’t reflect what they had been witnessing.

Jesus was meeting every need with miracles of healing—the dead were being raised, demons were cast out, the multitudes fed. The disciples’ minds were filled with dreams of a promising future with important positions in an earthly kingdom. Though Jesus warned them what was about to happen, they failed to listen because it was something they couldn’t bear to hear.

The scriptures tell us that Peter rebuked the Lord for saying He would die, and none of the disciples understood or had the courage to ask questions through they were grieved by Jesus’ words. Instead, they simply ignored His words and continued to argue about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom.

How human they were! How human we are when it comes to issues of  life and death, and being obedient to God’s word in light of eternity. Instead of facing life head on in response to what the Word says, it is easier to ignore eternal issues completely, and not believe what we read in the Bible.  Does the Word of God have authority over our everyday decisions, or do we secretly think that it can be ignored because it interferes with our own future plans and purposes?

This day Jesus is telling us again, “Listen carefully to my words. Understand fully why I had to die, and all that my resurrection means to you.”

Knowing our days are numbered, may we heed the voice of the Holy Spirit, living each day to embrace life fully—freely telling others of His great salvation, giving generously in every way, loving deeply, and listening intently to God for guidance, comfort, and understanding of his purposes.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, when You speak may I listen carefully and not ignore the important issues of life, death and eternity. Help me to understand what You are asking of me this day, as I meditate on your Word and give me the strength and courage to obey, no matter the cost. Amen.

Elizabeth (Betty) Long

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