WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 7, 2021
TOPIC: WE DON’T ALWAYS UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES
BY T. O. BANSO
“For not yet had they understood the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9 Montgomery’s New Testament).
In John 2:18, the Jews asked Jesus to show them a sign. He replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (verse 19 New King James Version). They thought He was referring to the physical temple from where He had just driven out those selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices and dealers exchanging foreign money.
They said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days? (Verse 20). They were talking about the remodeling of the temple which Herod the Great began and was yet to be completed. But Jesus wasn’t talking about the physical temple; He was talking about His death and resurrection. However, the Jews were not the only people who didn’t understand the words spoken by Jesus. His disciples didn’t understand either.
John 2:21-22 says, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said” (New King James Version). Did you see that? The disciples of Jesus didn’t understand that He was talking about His death and resurrection. Therefore, if they didn’t understand this, how could they have looked forward to His resurrection? They didn’t.
This was not the only instance when Jesus told the disciples about His death and resurrection. Their attitude after His resurrection did not suggest that they understood Him or expected Him to resurrect as He had said. Believers today are just like the disciples of Jesus. We don’t always understand the scriptures that we read every day or the messages preached to us from the Bible. Neither do we always understand our dreams and visions or prophecies that are meant for us or other people. Sometimes we only understand after they have come to pass.
See what Jesus said on one occasion about His death and resurrection and how Peter reacted: “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:21-23 New King James Version). Mark 8:31-33 also records this.
Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about dying. Probably he was wondering what their lot would be if He died because they had left everything to follow Him! Luke 5:10-11 says, “‘Jesus replied to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!’ And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus” (Luke 5:10-11 New Living Translation).
In Matthew 19:27, Peter said to Jesus, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” New King James Version). He said a similar thing in Mark 10:28: “See, we have left all and followed You” (New King James Version). Peter didn’t want Jesus to talk about dying.
Luke 18:31-34 also records Jesus prediction of His death and resurrection and the lack of understanding by His disciples: “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.’ But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken” (New King James Version).
Even when Jesus rode on a young donkey into Jerusalem as it was written in the Scriptures, His disciples did not understand the prophecy until after He had been lifted up into His glory. “His disciples didn’t realize at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered that these Scriptures had come true before their eyes” (John 12:16 New Living Translation). Did you see their lack of understanding?
When Jesus appeared to two of His disciples on their way to Emmaus and they discussed with Him His death, not recognizing Him, He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26 New King James Version). He scolded them for being slow to believe and expounded to them in all the Scriptures, beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, the things concerning Him. They later recognized Him.
Thereafter, when Jesus appeared to the other disciples, Jesus’ conversation with them also showed their lack of understanding of the scriptures concerning Him prior to His death. “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45 New King James Version).
Jesus continued, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (verses 46-49 New King James Version).
The book of Mark also shows us that the disciples of Jesus lacked understanding of the saying of Jesus about His death and resurrection. Mark 9:30-32 says, “Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, ‘The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.’ But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him” (New King James Version). It was only after His resurrection that they understood His saying although He also told them about His death and resurrection in Mark 10:32-34.
In Mark 9, as Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John, He commanded them that they should not tell anyone the things they had seen until He (the Son of Man) had risen from the dead. Verse 10 says, “They kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant” (New King James Version). In other words, they didn’t understand it or they found it difficult to come to terms with it.
After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter and another disciple came to the tomb of Jesus to confirm what Mary Magdalene had said that His body had been taken away and she didn’t know where they had laid Him (John 20:1-2). She had gone to the tomb with the other women to anoint His body but to their surprise, they saw an empty tomb; His body was missing! (Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1-3; Mark 16:1). These women were not expecting Jesus to resurrect even though He had told His disciples and the religious leaders were aware He said He would resurrect the third day. Peter and the other disciple also saw an empty tomb. They didn’t understand what had happened. John 20:9 says, “For not yet had they understood the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead” (Montgomery’s New Testament). The New King James Version says, “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”
It was not only about the death and resurrection of Jesus that His disciples showed a lack of understanding. The book of Mark also tells us in Mark 6 that they lacked understanding about the loaves or the miracle of the multiplied loaves because their heart was hardened and they did not believe (Mark 6:52). The reference here was to the feeding of five thousand men with five loaves of bread with twelve baskets fragments picked after (Mark 6:30-44).
See another instance of the lack of understanding by Jesus’ disciples: “Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread’” (Mark 8:14-16 New King James Version).
What was Jesus’ reaction to this? “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?’ They said to Him, ‘Twelve.’ ‘Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’ So He said to them, ‘How is it you do not understand?’” (Verses 17-21 New King James Version).
I once read an article where the writer said that Mark was too harsh on the disciples of Jesus by saying they lacked understanding of Jesus’ prediction of His death and resurrection until after His resurrection. The writer said that such statements were the additions of the author. He cited other writers that share the same opinion with him on this. I believe that is a mere academic exercise.
Even today, there are believers who manifest ignorance of the scriptures despite listening to several messages on the same scriptures or topic. We don’t always understand. It takes some time for some people to understand. That’s why the ministers of God must keep teaching and the people should keep listening and learning. People may just be beginning to understand when a minister is thinking of stopping a series or topic. We don’t always understand.
The writer of the book of Hebrews said the Hebrew Christians were dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:11). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “There is so much more we would like to say about this. But you don’t seem to listen, so it’s hard to make you understand.”
This is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit to teach us as Jesus said He would (John 14:26). May the eyes of our understanding be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18). May God deliver us from ignorance. May He grant us understanding. And may our understanding not be too late.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, please teach me; let me not be dull of hearing. Grant me an understanding of the Scriptures. Let not the Scriptures be closed to me. Help me to understand divine revelation. Father, let the eyes of my understanding be enlightened; that I may know what is the hope of Christ’s calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.
(For about 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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