They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
In this section of the Gospel of Mark there are so many questions, so much that appears to confuse the disciples and trouble them. They ask a lot of questions, but there are some things that they appear too fearful to raise.
I love it when the disciples react as we might! How many times have we heard a comment and not understood it, but we were too afraid of looking silly to ask for clarification? How many of us have heard a joke and everyone around us laughs and we don’t get it really, but join in because we do not want to look daft? How many times have we been in a meeting or gathering and someone has said something we do not understand but we have not been brave enough to admit our ignorance? Yet when someone has dared to ask ‘the stupid question’ we are often told: ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’.
Embarrassment and shame usually hold us back. So it was for the disciples: things were uncertain, what was going on was confusing, they were Jerusalem bound and yet not really sure what was going on. The words we hear Jesus saying were written after the events predicted, after the outcome was known. We know that eventually the disciples understood too, but it was only after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Sometimes we need to sit with questions and wait for answers; sometimes we need to be brave enough to admit our not knowing and ask for answers; other times we need to accept we cannot know everything and do not need to! We need to be discerning and yet also authentic, and other times risking being the one to ask ‘the stupid question’ knowing that we will be helping others, too!
Loving God, Jesus’ followers struggled to always understand. Help us when we lack understanding. Give us wisdom to know when to ask and when to keep silent. Give us courage to ask even when it feels risky. And give us patience to know that sometimes waiting will reveal the answers we are searching for. Amen
The Revd Jenny Mills, serving as Secretary for Education and Learning.