30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 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.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. Mark 9:30-32

This seems to have been quite a long interlude in the region of Caesarea Philippi. Isn’t it likely that the high mountain Mark was referring to was Mount Hermon since Caesarea Philippi lay at the base of Mt Hermon? The nine disciples were in the same vicinity for a whole week, waiting for Jesus and His disciples to return, surrounded by all the evidence of godless idolatry and depraved behaviour. It is difficult to imagine what went on in the minds of these twelve men in this atmosphere.

Jesus was completely unfazed by His experience. As always, these kinds of experiences only served to strengthen His awareness of the kingdom in which He lived and which He represented. He used every opportunity He could to condition the minds of His disciples to His impending death as a very necessary part of His purpose for coming “from the other side” so that they would also learn to live in the awareness of the kingdom of God.

At this point, His disciples were still held captive by their “this-worldly” perceptions of the kingdom of God, to the idea that Jesus was going to restore a David-type kingdom in Israel. After all, were not many of the Old Testament prophecies about Messiah related to His being the son of David? Although the two streams of thought were clear in the Old Testament, both king and suffering servant, it was the king-concept that was uppermost in their minds. They could not embrace His death as an atoning sacrifice for sin and the concept of the kingdom as a spiritual domain open to all who would receive His sacrifice as a once-for-all act to reconcile them to God.

Their failure to make this paradigm shift shut their minds to all His efforts to prepare them for the apparent disaster that loomed ahead. It was almost as though there was a part of their brains that was deaf and dead to His words. They could not make the connection between their sacrificial system of offering animal sacrifices to atone for sin and Jesus, the Lamb of God, being the one offering for all time to take away the sins of the world. It would take revelation truth from the Holy Spirit to make this connection.

Strange as it may seem, despite the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers today, there are still many who do not understand the relevance of the suffering and death of Jesus in their own lives. They may wear the symbol of His death as a piece of jewelry around their necks but they do not carry the cross daily and follow Him. Their connection to Jesus is no more than a free pass to heaven, not an indissoluble union with Him in His death  and resurrection.

Luella Campbell

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