‘For those of you watching in black and white, the yellow is just behind the blue.’ That famous piece of commentary usually finds its way into TV blooper shows, and highlights how easy it is for something that is clear to the speaker to be veiled to the listener.
Today, Jesus tells the disciples a second time what is going to happen to him. The first time had not gone very well, as you’ll remember: Peter got cross and told Jesus off for not being the sort of Messiah he was supposed to be. In reply, Jesus had challenged Peter’s preconceptions. Clearly this was a conversation Jesus needed to re-visit; so, after the recent encounter with the father and his son, he takes the opportunity to say it again.
This is very sensible: research has shown that any piece of communication needs to be heard at least three times to stick; similarly, I was taught at college that, when writing an essay, you should say what you’re going to say, then say it, then summarise what you’ve just said. We’ll see in a few days that Jesus also needs to say this vital message three times.
So here, today, is Big Conversation Number 2. Sadly, the disciples are still none the wiser – worse, they are now afraid to ask; worse yet, they were caught arguing about who is the greatest, which betrays a total misunderstanding of what Jesus said to them last time!
Again, we must marvel at how like us the disciples are; but we are also encouraged at Jesus’ wonderful patience with weak, slow, unsteady people – in other words, with almost all of his followers. Tomorrow we’ll see how this time he deals with their confusion much more gently. Today, though, let’s admire not only Jesus’ patience, but what he was willing to do for us – and that, despite knowing all that this would cost him, he went ahead anyway. Truly we worship an amazing Saviour.