Have you ever struggled with understanding what God is trying to say to you in a specific circumstance or even when you are reading the Bible? It just isn’t making sense to you? Well, even the disciples didn’t always know what Jesus was saying to them – and they were living with him and saw his miracles in person!

But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”—Luke 18:34

In the verses preceding Luke 18:34, Luke 18:31-33, Jesus couldn’t have been any clearer in describing to his disciples the events that were about to take place in his life and his upcoming death. Furthermore, looking in the book of Luke, we see this is actually the third time Jesus foretold of his death to the disciples. (See the first two times in Luke 9:22 and 9:45). Jesus said:

  • They were going to Jerusalem (Luke 18:31)
  • He must be delivered into the hands of man (Luke 9:45) – the Gentiles (Luke 18:32)
  • He will suffer many times (Luke 9:22) – described more fully as mocked, shamefully treated, spit upon and flogged (Luke 18:32-33)
  • He will be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes (Luke 9:22)
  • He will be killed and on the third day he will be raised. (Luke 9:22; 18:33)

That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? So why didn’t they understand? It’s not like he used unknown words, riddles or parables in describing the upcoming events! They were very ordinary words …yet they had extraordinary implications for Jesus and the disciples. As verse 34 above states – the disciples just couldn’t grasp what Jesus was saying to them.

Now, it’s not that they couldn’t understand the words. The meaning of what he was saying – the scenario just didn’t fit their expectations of what was to occur. How could the Son of Man – this man who was so adored and could control the wind and waters and give sight to the blind, heal the sick and even raise the dead – be talking about suffering and dying? How could this man of God – who is to usher in the new kingdom – the man that they left all that they had known in order to follow him – be talking about such things? It just didn’t make sense to them. His words didn’t fit into the future they hoped for, expected and envisioned. Even though he told them on three separate occasions what was to take place, they continued to not understand or grasp what was being said. At this time, they continued to be blind and or deaf to the truth.

When I read these verses – part of me is grateful to see that even the disciples didn’t fully understand the meaning of Jesus’ teachings, even though they had the privilege of living with him and seeing his miracles in person! Yet the other part of me is scared to read the part about the meaning being hidden from them. What does that mean? Why is the saying (the meaning) of Jesus’ words hidden from them? And it’s not just this verse that says this. Luke 9:45 says – But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Why is it concealed from them? Is the meaning of his words hidden because they closed their minds to it – because it didn’t meet their expectations? Is that why they were afraid to ask him about the saying – because they didn’t want to hear the answer? Or, did God conceal the meaning from them? To me that is somewhat troublesome. It makes me wonder if God, at times, is concealing the meaning of his Word or teachings from me too. But, let’s think about it.

A key point to remember about the disciples – at this time in their lives – didn’t have the Holy Spirit with them yet. This would come after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then the Holy Spirit is sent to them. (John 16:12-15) Maybe God realizes that they can’t bear to hear (understand) Jesus’ words at this time – without the Holy Spirit guiding them to the truth. So he conceals the meaning from them – continually – until they have the Holy Spirit with them.

However, we as Christians DO have the Holy Spirit with us. So that can’t be what is going on with us. Yet, God still conceals the meaning of his Word from us at times. We see below in Luke 10:21 that God does hide or conceal things from those he chooses (here the wise):

“In that same hour he [Jesus] rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to the little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’

So, rather than looking at the idea of God concealing the meaning of a situation or his Word from me or others as something negative, I need to look at it as positive. God is sovereign, loving, just, creator of all, knows all things, is everywhere, knows me best and he is my provider, protector, Lord and Savior! He would not conceal something from me that would keep me from knowing him better or getting closer to him or what he desires of me. I may not understand it at the time or like it and get frustrated about it – but maybe I’m just not ready to grasp whatever it is he is hiding from me! Maybe he knows I will mishandle the situation or misunderstand the meaning. Maybe I just need to spend more time in God’s Word. Maybe I just need to ask him. God says that if we ask, it will be given to us. (Luke 11:9-13; Matt 7:7) Just as the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus what he meant – am I? Am I ready to hear what God is trying to say? Are you?

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for concealing the meaning of certain phases or seasons in my life or even your Word at times – when you know that’s what is best for me. Wow, that’s hard for me to say – even though I’ve learned through this study that it is a good thing. You know how much I struggle in the unknowns or silences when desiring answers or understanding! I pray I will feel your peace and the Holy Spirit’s assurance and guidance during those times of uncertainties and unknowns.

Thank you for challenging and redirecting my thoughts even as I am working through and writing this devotional. You know I’ve had to chew on it for a few days – let it sink in – because it really has been troublesome to me. Why would you hide the meaning of something from those you love?

Yet, are they – are we – seeking the meaning – the truth? Is it more comfortable for us NOT to know the meaning? Are we not ready to fully grasp or accept it yet? Or are we seeking an answer WE want or expect? Are our dreams and expectations of the future getting in the way of the truth? Are we truly asking and seeking? If so, we know that if we ask and seek, we will find and you will give – in your time.

As for me – Lord, am I like the disciples? Am I so caught up in my expectations of what the future should look like, that I’m not ready to grasp the truth you may be trying to tell me? If that’s the case, please forgive me Lord. Open my eyes, ears and mind to recognize, hear and understand your voice and Word. If I don’t understand – please give me courage to ask you for the meaning. Thank you that I have the Holy Spirit within me – so he can guide and teach me when that meaning is given to me. I pray this in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.