There are multiple accounts in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John of Jesus predicting His death to His disciples. In each of these accounts, Jesus shares the information in various amounts and ways. The theme, though, that we see in all of these accounts is that Christ revealed the details gradually. He took His disciples on a journey of sorts. Beginning with vague references, and then adding more details as the disciples begin to discover and believe in who He was. Because of this we see the beginnings of the angst, tension, uncertainty, and more that was experienced on that journey to the cross. The journey to redemption.
First, He begins with an eluding of sorts using obscure statements and phrases such as " Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" - John 2:19. Then, as they began to understand and know Him as Messiah, He began to reveal more detail.
Luke 9:43-45 - While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples,“Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
Matthew 16:21-25 - From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Not only was it difficult to understand Jesus' words and the meaning and intent behind them, they were being asked to lay down their lives, surrender everything and follow Him on a journey they didn't fully understand! Through this journey, can you imagine the disciples thoughts, their imagination? Jesus, was at best, vague and only a little descriptive of what would take place. But He definitely left out the major details of why, how, and more. The Bible makes it clear that the disciples did not have all of the information. And, even as Jesus begin to fully share - they could not and did not fully understand. Mostly because they couldn't understand the end result - the resurrection. And that was God's purpose. He was leading them to a place of pain and confusion and yet, glorious purpose...and He didn't give them much to go off of.
How many times has He led me to a place of pain and confusion only to give me none of the important details? At least what I deem important. We are often left bewildered when we experience pain or loss. Even still, like the disciples, He asks us to surrender everything, to take up our cross - the pain He is allowing in our lives - and to trust Him and follow Him. It brings some kind of comfort and peace to know that the disciples, those closest to Jesus, also experienced a sense of bewilderment and frustration over missing details.
How is it that we are supposed to take up our cross and follow Christ into what is seemingly unknown and sometimes even uncertain? How are we to follow Him when we don't understand the pain we are experiencing or the journey He has us on?
I see Jesus give little details about the disciple's journey - yet here is what I also see - through their life with Christ-Jesus doesn't leave them. He continues to speak to them, share with them, and right up to His death - commune with them. And, even, when He said He was leaving-He promised a guide and comfort in His place. The Holy Spirit. He didn't give them details that they would need or understand at the time-but He gave them friendship and direction. He gave them care.
John 14: 5-7 - Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going. So how can we know the way?”Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. 7 If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him through me and have seen him in me.”
John 14: 25-28 - “I have told you this while I’m still with you. However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you. “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly. You heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, but I’m coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.
And I am continually reminded in scripture that this is simply what Jesus does. He guides, He loves, He brings care to those around Him. He doesn't give them everything they want, He doesn't answer all of the questions, but He is present and leading. He is the shelter in the storm and constant in the changing.
He gives us what we need. Not everything that we want - but everything we need. He has not left us alone. The disciples did not understand everything, it didn't make sense at the time. But, it resulted in the greatest miracle and act of all mankind. And, the pain that they are experiencing in the here and now will be later redeemed and restored. Because that is just what He does. He ALWAYS redeems and restores the pain in our lives.
I guess what we need to do as we follow Him...is to find rest to stop asking questions that He will never answer this side of heaven - just long enough to hear Him, to see Him, to know that He is there. So, that we can receive the other many wonderful things He is offering during our times of pain, confusion, and doubt.