When Jesus prophesies His own Passion and death it must have been a very unsettling experience for His disciples. Nothing could have prepared them for such an extraordinary prophecy. Nowhere in their history have they understood that the Messiah would come to suffer and to die. Jesus’ words must have been both confusing and a source of fear to them. What were they supposed to do when all this happened?

At the same time, the course and end of Jesus’ life is entirely predictable form the Old Testament! Looking back at the Old Testament with hindsight we can see texts that clearly indicate a suffering Messiah who will be vindicated by God. Yes, it is with hindsight that we can make these interpretations, but nevertheless, we can do it! St Paul does a masterful job of arguing for justification by faith and not the works of the Law by simply using certain texts in Genesis. When we read the Scriptures, it is not just the literal sense of the words that we are looking to uncover. We must also discover the meaning the Holy Spirit intended to give the text when He inspired it in the mind of the author. Sometimes this meaning is more or less obscure.

When Jesus spoke to His disciples about His imminent suffering and death they were probably too shocked to think clearly about what it really meant. On reflection, though, they would have been able to see that this would fit into the Jewish understanding of the forgiveness of sins. The fruition of their reflections can be seen in texts such as Romans 3:21-26, the Letter to the Hebrews and elsewhere. We can see from this that we do not always realize the fullness or significance of the words of Jesus at the time He speaks them to us, however, we can be sure that we eventually will understand.

I am sure that one of the lasting lessons the disciples learnt concerning Jesus’ prophecy of His Passion was that suffering and the cross precede the joy and the new life of the resurrection. It may not be obvious to us at the time; we may even fear the present moment, but with faith we should be able to look forward to the moment of the resurrection when all will be made known, and more importantly, all will be made well once again. We need not be confused or afraid because we can be sure that God knows exactly what He is doing in our lives. Let us pray that we will always co-operate with His grace.

How well attuned is my heart to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life? Do I easily comprehend His will for me?

Lord Jesus, open my mind to the wonders of your plan for my life. Help me to embrace all that you have prepared for me. Help me to embrace the suffering that will come to my life in the sure knowledge that the resurrection will follow. Grant me the grace to always trust in your goodness to me.