A Theological/Bible Related Commentary
We ended Part II of this series wondering aloud why none of Jesus’ disciples was prepared for his return from the dead. Not a single one! And this, despite the gospel reports of Jesus actually attempting to explain the Passion to his disciples on several separate occasions! (And one can only imagine how many attempts were made with the apostles on an individual, one-to-one basis!)
Christian scholars, nevertheless, have settled on three possible explanations to account for the disciples’ total lack of understanding:
a) The first being that the disciples were simply too distressed to fully take-in what Jesus was so desperately trying to convey to them (as in Matthew 17:22-23):
“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” (NIV; emphasis mine).
b) The second being that Jesus’ words were simply too incomprehensible to fathom (as in Mark 9:30-32):
“They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it” (NIV; emphasis mine).
c) And the third being that “God” deliberately chose to conceal Jesus’ fate from his followers (as in Luke 9:43-45):
“And they were all amazed by the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying” (NIV; emphasis mine)
My first response is to point out that in Mark, Jesus says he will be raised “on the third day” while in Matthew, he says “after three days, meaning on the fourth day.
As to the first argument, I would point out that being “acutely” distressed by Jesus foretelling his imminent death does not necessarily dictate that his disciples would “fail” to comprehend what was told them; rather the reverse can be argued, that the disciples did understand Jesus―only too well―and yet, only up to a point. What is completely overlooked is the “fact” that Jesus was simultaneously assuring his disciples that he would be raised from the dead and be “glorified” by that “other” God, God the Father (see here), as well. Now, where is the joy and jubilation in that being displayed anywhere in the gospels?
And what are we to make of the disciples’ paralyzing fear in asking Jesus to elaborate further in regards to the Passion? Does that make any kind of sense to you ?
The second explanation, if fully embraced, means that we have to accept that every one of Jesus’ disciples was actually so dim-witted that even after the long hours Jesus spent with them trying to clarify precisely what the Passion would entail, and all that time instructing them as to why things must progress in the manner they would, that it still all remained completely incomprehensible to them! If so, what does that tell us about the “intelligence” of “the (supposed) most supremely intelligent being in all of existence”? He consciously hand-picked complete nincompoops to be his earthly followers rather than more “capable” individuals!
As for the third argument: Are we really to believe that God Almighty chose to deliberately cloud the minds of Jesus’ disciples at the very same time Jesus―God incarnate Himself―was attempting to instruct his disciples as to what was about to befall him? Really ? Now how retarded would that be!
Finally, note Jesus’ words in Luke 9:44, “Let these things [in regards to the Passion] sink down into your ears.” Here, Jesus is attempting to use sheer force of will to make his disciples understand him. Are we, then, to accept that an incarnate God has not to ability to convince his own disciples of something so momentous even when employing supernatural power?
What kind of a “God” do Christians have running Trinitarian God’s Christian Universe anyway? Oh, that’s right: there are actually three “Gods” running it, aren’t there?
Next Time in Part IV: The conclusion. (here)