And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying. Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. (Luke 9:43-46)
Centered On Self
Following the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, a man brought his son to Jesus for healing of a terrible spirit that convulses the boy so that he foams at the mouth. The boy was in a terrible way with the evil spirit and when the man sought help from the disciples of Jesus, they could not heal him. It disappointed Jesus. His disciples lacked the faith to heal the boy. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. While everyone rejoiced at the boys recovering, Jesus turned to His disciples and warned them of those who were plotting to kill Him. A dire warning of the betrayal of their Lord needed to sink deep in their hearts. The Father did not reveal all the plans of how Jesus would be betrayed and killed because the disciples would not be able to comprehend the eternal consequence of the need for Jesus to die. But the disciples understood enough that they were afraid to ask Jesus about what He said.
When Jesus tells His disciples of His betrayal, He wanted them to let the words sink down into their hearts to think about the difficult days that were to come. Jesus had shown Himself to be the son of God with miracles such as the healing of the young child. He walked on water, raised the dead, fed thousands of people, and taught with authority. No one could imagine how soon the life of Jesus would turn tragic as He would be arrested suddenly, tried without cause and killed almost without warning. The disciples would be stunned at the speed at which Jesus would be killed. They went into hiding, fearful of the Jews. While they did not understand the words of Jesus, there should have been some sympathy or compassion for what was to happen to Jesus.
Remarkably, the fickle nature of the human heart is seen in Jesus telling His disciples He is about to be betrayed into men’s hands, and they begin disputing among themselves which of them will be greater. The full impact of the betrayal of Jesus was hidden from them, but they knew something of importance was going to happen and were afraid to ask Him about it. Instead, they were more concerned for themselves and who would be on the right hand and left of Jesus. Self-importance took precedence over Jesus being betrayed. The disciples’ minds were tuned to their own needs rather than the object of the mission. After spending many hours listening to the teaching of Jesus, watching Him deal with His supporters and critics, and witnessing every miracle, the disciples were concerned for themselves.
It is easy for disciples of Jesus to be consumed with their own lives; they forget the mission of God. There is a temptation to serve the needs of self rather than the cause of Christ. Disputing among the disciples is a sign of disregard for hearing the word of God and seeking to understand its meaning. They had more concern for something that was never taught by Jesus and sought after something that would bring them no closer to God. Jesus died to save men from sin. Like the disciples of old, hearts are often more concerned for self than the mission of helping others come to Christ. It’s all about the me story. Jesus healed a young child and it became common for the disciples. The Lord tells His disciples of His betrayal and they argue about which of them will be the greatest. It sounds like the spirit of the disciples is alive and well in religion today.