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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"The Reason We Misunderstood Jesus"

February 9, 2004

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But they did not understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it. Mark 9:32

The saying goes; “To be great is to be misunderstood.” Certainly these words would apply to Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. The saying also describes Jesus of Nazareth, who confounded not only the crowds but also His disciples.

Shortly after His transfiguration Jesus spoke privately to His disciples, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise” (Mark 9:31). Mark simply records that the disciples didn’t understand.

What was the reason for their misunderstanding? Not because Jesus spoke unclearly. He spoke with simple words and repeated His message. Why then the misunderstanding?

When they reached Capernaum, Jesus asked what they had been arguing about on the road. They kept quiet because they had been arguing about who was the greatest. In short, the disciples misunderstood because they were selfish. They wanted success and fame. They couldn’t understand Jesus’ talk about suffering, service, and a cross.

Do we misunderstand Jesus? We have the benefit of the Holy Scriptures. We know much more about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection than did the disciples at the time of this text. Yet we misunderstand as badly as the disciples.

Why to we fail to understand Jesus? Because so often we are in effect arguing about who is the greatest. Forgetting about our suffering Savior, we tend to push for success and recognition. When Jesus talks about suffering, service, and a cross, we screen out His words with our selective filters.

What can we do to understand Jesus? Jesus takes a little child in His arms and says that whoever welcomes one of these little, humble children welcomes Him. God will give us the humility of a child. Exposing our selfishness and stopped-up ears, He gives us His Son, who humbled Himself unto death, even death on a cross! By God’s grace we understand Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, open my heart to understand Your Word. Amen.

(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit

Today's Bible Readings: Exodus 7-8    Matthew 25:1-30

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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