The Hard Stuff

“For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” But they understood nothing about these things.” – Luke 18:32-34

Just as we are now nearing the end of our Lenten journey, so in this passage Jesus and disciples were near the end of the journey to Jerusalem, and all that would happen there.

Just as our churches are publishing their list of all the (now adapted) Holy Week and Easter services soon to come, so Jesus listed the events that lay ahead.

And the disciples, par for the course, didn’t get it. They didn’t understand. They didn’t want to hear about the mocking, the insults, the flogging, the death.

It is easy to stand in judgment on the disciples. “Foolish, faithless disciples! So unwilling to walk the lonesome valley with the Lord.”

But before we chastise the twelve, take a moment and look at the attendance numbers for two services at your church last year. First, Good Friday. Then, Easter.

We’re not a lot more interested in the hard stuff than they were, are we? I suppose that’s human nature. Yet still the hard stuff happens.

Fortunately, it is the nature of our God to go straight into, and through, the hardest stuff. So that when we do get there, we know we are not alone. “Only a suffering God can help,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminded us.

We don’t really understand either, Lord. We don’t grasp it all or comprehend it all. So help us to “understand” differently. Simply to stand beneath, to “stand under” the mystery of the cross. Amen.

ddrobinson.jpgAbout the Author
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book, Useful Wisdom: Letter to Young (and Not So Young) Ministers is available from Wipf and Stock. You can read and sign up for his blog at