On Deaf Ears
Chan Gin Kai
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. (Luke 18:31-34)
It was the third time Jesus had predicted his death to his disciples. The THIRD time.
We don’t often hear a young man talking morbidly about his impending suffering and death. It’s also true Jesus’ teachings are not always easy to understand. But his prediction here certainly sounded clear enough; yet “they did not know what he was talking about”. It was perhaps excusable that the Twelve didn’t catch it the first and second time he said it in Luke 9. But the third time?
Even if they didn’t understand his words, couldn’t they have caught it on his face? Jesus couldn’t have been expressionless when he predicted his death or described the gruesome torture before he gets killed. We learn from the Bible that Jesus felt more and more anguish as his death approached. Anyone would. He wouldn’t have said it a third time if it didn’t bother him. Shouldn’t the troubled look on his face have moved the Twelve to ask him what he meant?
Jesus’ words and pains fell on deaf ears.
There were no words of encouragement; no one to understand his pain. No one to put an arm around his shoulder and provide the comfort he sought. If I had told a best buddy that I was going to die, and he said “Huh?” and changed the subject, I would have screamed at him… “Here I am, feeling totally vulnerable and sad, and you ignore me?” It’ll break my heart.
It certainly hurt Jesus. It did the first and second time. This time too.
It hurt Jesus again when Peter, James and John fell asleep when he asked them to pray with him at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). And it hurt again when the disciples “deserted him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). If they had understood his prediction, they would not have fallen asleep, and perhaps they would not have deserted him either. Jesus was all alone.
Jesus words and pains fell on deaf ears… on our deaf ears too.
How often have we forgotten about Jesus’ death despite repeated mentions and reminders in communions, sermons and conversations? And we think the Twelve were dense for not picking it up after the third prediction?
Each time we fail to respond to Jesus teachings and love, it hurts him. But he patiently bears the pain, like he did with the Twelve. We may have deserted him from time to time, but he doesn’t stop loving us. And he doesn't stop reaching out to us either.
On the other hand how do I behave when I think my prayers fall on deaf ears? I start assuming that God doesn’t hear me, or thinking that He doesn’t care. I feel ignored, or even abandoned, even though Jesus is always by my side.
Our prayers do not fall on deaf ears. Let not our ears be deaf to God’s words.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.