His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him. (John 12:16)
Relate: Whenever I am reading something, I want to immediately group the characters into two groups: the good guys and the bad guys. If anyone doesn’t fall easily into one of those groups, it is probably because the ambiguous characters are little more than random filler doing little more than helping to flesh out and move the plot along. All too often when reading or even listening to others preach from the gospels, my mind classifies these same two groups. The disciples are the good guys. The Pharisees are the bad guys.
Even though I understand that the truth is far more complex than that, I fall into the trap so many of us have in needing to put everything into nice tidy boxes. It helps to remember that Jesus was often found going to the house of this or that Pharisee but we never hear of Him in the home of a Sadducee. Pharisees are restricted from socializing with those outside their party so was he a member? It is also good to note that we have many examples of Pharisees becoming followers of Jesus but to my knowledge there isn’t one New Testament instance of a Sadducee converting. Also, Jesus told us to follow the Pharisee’s teaching but not their example. Both the Pharisees and the disciples believed in the existence of angels and demons, the resurrection and coming judgment, the necessity of keeping the Law, and the soon coming Messiah.
We all too often give the Pharisees heat because Jesus was fulfilling Messianic prophesies left and right all around them and they kept missing it. Let us not forget that the disciples kept missing it too.
React: Much later in life, Peter would write, “Above all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in human will but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” I can imagine the scribe to whom Peter is dictating his words just sitting there waiting to go on while the Apostle pauses to reminisce. I can picture him stopping at that point as his mind plays back all the different times Jesus fulfilled another prophesy while everyone around Him, disciples and pharisees both, just didn’t get it.
Peter’s words are also good to keep me humble. I was just talking with a Muslim lady yesterday about whether the Kurdish people are the same as Medes in Biblical prophesy. The only honest answer I could give is, “I don’t know… maybe” How much is God doing all around me that I just don’t know? How many words has He spoken into my life that, I was convinced I knew how that was to come about, until it was time to see it in action? How many prophesies are coming true in our world about which we are completely oblivious of even as we read our papers, watch CNN, and get on our internet news sites? It wasn’t their theology that set apart the Pharisees from the disciples. It wasn’t how much they got right or how often they were wrong. What set apart the disciples from the Pharisees was that they chose to follow Jesus in spite of the confusions, doubts, and misunderstandings. The question for us isn’t, “how good is our theology?” The question is, “how closely are we following Jesus?”
Even as I ask You for the wisdom to better understand Your word, even more important is my need to obey what You have revealed. Help me to be obedient. Help me to follow You with every step I take, every word I speak, and every breath I breathe. Let my words and actions point people to You.