Afraid to ask
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. (Jesus) 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.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” ~ Mark 9:30-37
One of the things that happens when you decide to follow the lectionary in your devotions - in the same year you did a certain gospel - is that you are going to have some of the same texts pop up that you want to find something new to write about.
What jumped out at me this time was the line, "But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him."
How often has that been true for you? I know that there were plenty of times I didn't raise my hand in school - or even in Seminary - because I was afraid to ask the teacher or professor. No one wants to look foolish, or be called out for not knowing something you are supposed to.
But maybe if those disciples had asked Jesus, maybe they would have gotten to enjoy Jesus' message more fully and deeply.
I had a conversation once with a friend of mine from a previous congregation whose kids I had taught in confirmation. She and I were on a church trip together, and I had just started Seminary.
As we were sitting and enjoying the view one night, she confessed to me that she never recited the words to the Apostles' Creed because of the line that Jesus "descended into hell." She had never asked about it; had just decided to ignore it. Since we were friends, she felt comfortable enough to finally ask me about it.
I told her that there was an alternate version that some churches used that more closely caught the context: that Jesus "descended to the dead." Hell was just a word used there to describe a more general place of the dead.
You could just see the relief on her face. She no longer had a barrier that prevented her from making one of our confessions of faith.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple question. Don't be afraid! Go ahead...ask!
Gracious God, give me the words I need to ask the questions that bring life! Amen