The reflection of this article is based on the Gospel of
Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer
In Luke 9:18, we read, “Once when Jesus was praying alone,
with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I
am?” The meaning of this first verse indicates that Jesus used to spend a lot
of time in prayer. He would often go to mountain tops and wildernesses praying for
the whole night alone. Though the disciples were with Jesus at the time, He was
still praying alone by himself. Therefore, this signifies that Jesus used to
spend time in prayer even when in the midst of the crowd. Even when the
disciples were around him, either watching him or talking to each other, Jesus
continued to pray alone, though the others did not join.
Why did Jesus command the disciples not to tell anyone?
Suddenly, after His prayer, Jesus
asked his disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
Jesus wanted feedback from His
disciples on what the people spoke about him. The disciples responded saying,
“John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the
ancient prophets has arisen” (Luke 9:19).
With this response, Jesus asked again, “But who do you say that I am?”.
At many occasions, Peter would act as the spokesperson of the disciples.
Therefore, Peter spoke on behalf of all disciples saying, “The Messiah of God”.
This is also written in the Gospel
of Luke, while a more detailed explanation is provided in the Gospel of
Matthew. Upon hearing the response, Jesus knew what the disciples thought of
who He was, The Messiah, and so He responded as mentioned in the Gospel of Luke
9:21, “He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone.” By this
statement, Jesus wanted to ensure that this secret would not be revealed to
anyone. He did not want them to tell anyone about this.
The questions to ask ourselves is
– “Why did Jesus do that”, “Why is he so secretive about this”, “Everyone
should know He is the Messiah, accept Him as the Messiah and follow him”.
However, when the disciples came to know this and proclaimed it in front of Him,
Jesus stopped them instantly and asked them to keep quiet. This is not just an
ordinary instruction, but it was a commandment. It was not an ordinary request
of humility, but it was sternly ordered and commanded. Therefore, it is both an
order and commandment. He ordered them and commanded them to not reveal the
secret revealed in Luke 9:22, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and
be rejected by the elders, chief priests , and scribes, and be killed, and on
the third day be raised.”
At the time, the people though Jesus
was Elijah due to the power He had and
they thought an ancient prophet had come back. They said this because of
the many miracles He performed: healing of the people, walking on water,
raising people from the dead, casting out devils. The people were all too
excited and so their impression of Jesus was extremely high. Therefore, they
looked at Jesus as a miracle worker, a powerful man of God.
But Jesus, through His words, shows
that this is not what He wanted the people to believe. Jesus wanted to be known
as the Messiah that came and endured all sorts of suffering, rejection and, at
the end killed and became nothing. After that, He had no objections for them to
tell anyone. He did not want to be known as a miracle worker, but to be known
as the crucified one. This is the reason Jesus wanted His disciples to wait
before spreading the news to the people. After Jesus’s entire suffering, death,
resurrection, he told them to “Go and Tell”.
Who do you believe Jesus is?
The question we need to ask
ourselves is, “Do we want to believe in a miracle working Jesus” or “ Do we
want to believe in a loving Jesus who died for you and me on mount Calvary, and
rose from the dead”. Many people are happy with a miracle working Jesus. Many
people do not want to see a suffering Jesus who carried the cross, shed blood
and died. Instead, they are only satisfied with the miracle working Jesus of
prosperity, healing, blessing. But the suffering aspect of Jesus Christ is
conveniently ignored or forgotten.
Jesus does not want to be known as a miracle worker, He
wants to be known as a Messiah who carried the sins of the whole world to Mount
Calvary, who went through all kinds of persecution, loneliness and abandonment.
Jesus even felt as though his own Father abandoned Him when He was dying on the
cross. God the Father, however, did not abandon him even though Jesus felt this
way. This is because Jesus was taking the sins of the whole world on to the
cross and so the whole world was full of darkness at that moment, despite it
only being 3pm in the afternoon.
The worst kind of suffering
The darkness that came and surrounded the whole area was a
symbol of the sins that was crucified with Jesus on Mount Calvary. He therefore
became sin on the cross. We know that the meaning of sin is separation from God,
and so when Jesus became sin on the cross, at that moment, He felt the most
terrible pain in His soul. The most terrible pain of his soul crying, “Father,
why have you forsaken me”. He felt such a terrible separation that He could not
tolerate. Though Jesus endured such excruciating physical pain just before the
cross, it was only at that time He took all the sins did He cry so powerfully. That
cry was the result of the sins of the whole world.
This is the biggest pain that a person could ever experience.
This is why King David, when he realized he committed a terrible sin of
adultery and murder, knelt down putting on sack clothes and cried out, “Do not
cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me” (Psalms
51:11). Through this, David cried out to God and told Him that God could take
anything that He desired from David (kingship, prosperity, wealth). However, he
pleaded God to not depart from him- to not separate from him. The worst pain a human
being can experience in their heart is separation from God. That is what Jesus
experienced on Mt. Calvary, because that is where he took all the sins of the
whole world and crucified it on the cross, leading him to experience separation.
This is the cry of every sinner. When we are in love of God,
we feel so happy. However, when we sin, we suddenly feel rejected, alone. This
is because our soul is experiencing separation from the everlasting love of God
Therefore, in this gospel reading, Jesus did not want anyone
to know that he is the Messiah. This is also because Jesus knew that His
disciples would leave him the moment He was crucified. If this is the case, the other people who
believed in Him would also leave. Jesus therefore did not want His followers to
fall into such drastic experiences of their spiritual life. He wanted to
complete His mission- the mission that was brought to completion on Mt. Calvary
through the drinking of the chalice. Once the mission was accomplished, the
disciples were free to spread the Good News.
All suffering ends with resurrection
Let the whole world know that suffering is part of life. We
may have to go through moments of crisis, but don’t be shaken. The moment you
may be rejected, don’t be shaken. The whole world will abandon you, don’t be
shaken; your own disciples may leave you, do not get scared; Your own disciples
may betray you; your own family members may deny you; your mother and father
may deny you, don’t be shaken. During these moments of crisis, they will
question God asking, “Where is God, What kind of God is this?”. These questions
should not arise. That is why all the pain that you are going through today,
Jesus has already gone through and he defeated everything and came back,
resurrected, and told everyone to go and proclaim. If you’re rejected, do not
worry, remember the resurrection. Anyone facing isolation, do not worry,
remember the resurrection. You may be crucified, but don’t worry, there is
resurrection. This is not the end, the mission does not end with your crisis.
All the sufferings and crisis is only temporary.
John the Baptist also doubted
Even John the Baptist had doubt in his heart, though he was Elijah
himself and so powerful. This is found in the Gospel of Luke 7:18 “The
disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his
disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, are you the one who is to come or,
are we to wait for another”. John the Baptist is the one who baptized Jesus,
witnessing the heavens opening and the holy spirit like a dove descending on
Jesus. He is the one who heard the voice of the heavenly Father saying, “This
is my son with whom I am well pleased”. John the Baptist was a witness to this.
He saw the miracle of hearing the voice of the heavenly Father. He saw and he
heard, but still doubted Jesus. This may have been because, whist he was in
prison, he may have been waiting for Jesus to visit him or at least to send His
disciples to meet him. He must have expected Jesus to visit him in prison and
support him. John the Baptist could have also expected a miracle of Jesus setting
him free. With all these thoughts, John the Baptist may have started to doubt,
leading him to ask the question, “Is he the real Messiah”.
John the Baptist must have assumed that if this Jesus could
not help him, how would he be able to help the entire world. Therefore, with
these doubts, he sent forth his disciples to confirm with Jesus. When these two
disciples reached Jesus, He responded to them saying, “Go and tell John the
Baptist what they have seen and heard”. The see refers to the Miracles
performed by Jesus, while the hear refers to the good news. This was as a
reminder to John the Baptist to what he had seen and heard at the time of the
baptism of the Lord.
This is exactly what happened to Jesus’s disciples at the
time of His arrest, where all the disciples ran away leaving their clothes
behind. Every one of the disciples abandoned Jesus. Then Jesus was taken to Mt.
Calvary. Throughout the Journey, Jesus was alone. However, with his Mother
following him and, from behind John, who was influential at the time.
Mother Mary went through suffering after suffering
Mother Mary was the first to witness the Good News of Jesus
when she heard the message of Angel Gabriel telling her that she will give
birth to a baby who will be called Son of the Most High God, who will reign
over the house of Jacob, will be great, with His kingdom lasting forever. This
was the annunciation. At the time of the annunciation, there was no bad news,
only good news. The angel did not mention anything about the crucifixion. The
Angel did not give any hint of the suffering and passion. Mother Mary did not
hear any bad news and that is why she responded saying “Here is the hand maid
of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word”. However, from the next
day onwards, Mother Mary went through suffering after suffering.
The first suffering Mother Mary had to face was the family
problem of Joseph considering to divorce her.
Then, she had to bring Jesus up. Later on, Jesus started His mission by
preaching and everyone started accusing Jesus and so Mother Mary had to bear
all this pain.
Furthermore she witnessed Jesus being bound by chains and
carrying the cross to Mt. Calvary. Though the Angel Gabriel did not inform her
directly about this, Angel Gabriel told her that Jesus was going to be the
Messiah who would reign over the house of Jacob and sit on the throne of His
ancestor, David and that His Kingdom would last forever. However, what must
have Mother Mary thought as she was standing under the cross, looking at the
body of Christ, while he was bleeding and dying. She must have been wondering
whether this was the end, whether this is what she had been waiting for. She
must have wondered where the throne of the ancestor of David was or where the
Mother Mary never doubted God
This is how you and me would have thought, if we were to be
in the mother’s place. We would have assumed that everything we had witnessed
and seen through the years is nothing more than an hallucination or an
imagination. If we were there in the place of Mother Mary, we would have been
looking around for one person, Angel Gabriel. However, Mother Mary was there,
standing under the cross silently, went through the heart piercing pain and, at
no point did she doubt the existence of God. She did not proclaim at any point
saying that she believed and trusted in God but now everything is in vain and
has gone to waste. Instead, she saw the
death of her son, she saw the body of Jesus being buried in the tomb. But
still, she did not give up her hope, she did not doubt the annunciation. She
did not stop following the teaching of Jesus. Instead, she was instrumental in
bringing all the disciples together and
making them pray in the upper room for 40 days. At the end, they were all
filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Mother Mary was the reason
behind the Pentecost. She united all of them, and that is why Pentecost
Mother Mary’s secret to faith
What made Mother Mary believe this? What was the guarantee
in her heart? She was not informed of any suffering or pain, yet she believed
without questioning or doubts. How did she not doubt Jesus?The reason is
written in Luke2:19, “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in
her heart”. These words being the messages of all the prophets and angel
Gabriel. The mention of Mother Mary treasuring all the words is also written in
the Gospel of Luke 2:51, after the finding of Jesus in the temple. What she
heard and what she saw were the things that she kept in her heart.
This is exactly what Jesus told John the Baptist, “Remember
what you have seen and what you have heard”. Mother Mary remembered all that
she had seen and heard. That is why in the moments of her biggest crisis, she
did not lose her hope and faith. She did not doubt the existence of God because
she had the word of God in her heart. That is the secret of the faith of Mother
Remember the times you felt God’s presence
This is what we need to remember. We need to look back at
our past and remember the number of times our prayers have been answered. How
many times did we kneel down and tell Jesus saying “Lord I believe you are
there”? How many times have we experienced the tangible presence of God in our
lives? Now, when we are having crisis, how did we lose faith and start
doubting? This is because, somewhere in our busy life we have forgotten what we
have seen and heard. In our busy life, we tend to forget what God has done for
us, His protection and, all of the answered prayers, leading us to doubt his
existence at times of difficulties.
Where and when did we fall down? The answer is in Revelation
2:4 “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at
first”. This means that you were so full of faith and, somewhere you got lost
because you have forgotten what you have seen and heard in your life.
Treasure the word in your heart
“I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin
against you” -Psalm 110:11. This means that if you keep the word of God in your
heart and ponder over it, you will not sin against God. Many people commit sin
because they do not know the word of God, because they do not ponder on the
scripture. This is evident in Psalms 119:11 “I treasure your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against you”.
“How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it
according to your word” If the people read the word of God every day, they will
keep holiness. When God was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, God said
to them “Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart” (Deuteronomy
6:6). This is why each one of us are requested to keep reading the word of God
so that His word will be kept in our hearts. “Recite them to your children and
talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down
and when your rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7). Talk to your family and children about
the word of God, because this is the commandment of God. This needs to be done
not only at Church, but inside our families and homes, at all times. By reading
the word, we remember Jesus because the word became flesh. Colossians 3: 16 states “Let the word of
Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and
with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God”.
The Lord says let the word of Christ dwell in your richly. This does not mean
just one or two quotes from the bible, but as many as possible. When Jesus was
being tempted in the desert, He kept reciting quotes in the bible. In those
days, books of the bible were not available. However, scrolls of various books
of the bible were stored in the synagogue. He would go to the synagogue to read
the scriptures. The disciples of Jesus knew the bible as they continually
quoted various parts of the old testament. The word of God dwelt in their
hearts. With gratitude in your heart, sing songs of praise to the Lord. We sing
as an act of worship to our Lord Jesus as it makes God happy.
“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh,
but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of
this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly
places” -Ephesians 6:12. We need to protect ourselves from such things. “Stand
therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the
breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). The belt, breastplate are
weapons of defense to defend yourself. While, the word of God is the weapon of
attack. Then you will see the enemy, in the form of devil, flea away from you.
Jesus not only had the weapons of defense, but also the word of God with which
he attacked the devil. The only weapon given to us is the word of God to attack
the devil. Otherwise, all throughout our life we will end up only defending and
they will be no one left with us.
So let us take the bible, use the word and recite the word.
Let us teach our children and use the word of God all the time- then only will
we see the Church becoming powerful.