Failure. Jealousy. Pride. Self-concern. Anger.
All of these emotions and feelings are swirling around the people in this passage. The disciples cannot cast out a demon. Other people can and they are jealous. And in the midst of it, they want to make sure that their rank in the Kingdom is secure and not taken by a well-intentioned but less deserving disciple. One village wants nothing to do with Jesus because He won’t stay. Others approach and say that they want to follow Jesus but have a multitude of excuses as to why it can’t be right now.
In the midst of this turmoil, Jesus makes a profound statement: “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men” (9:44). Jesus has set His face to go to Jerusalem to give Himself as a sacrifice for all who believe.
The setting of this statement causes us to pause and rejoice at the good news of the Gospel. Rather than look down upon the disciples and the people along the way, we must turn and look inward to see the same failures and emotions in us. And we remember that Jesus died for these things. He came to a sin-wrecked earth, walked among the mess, and gave Himself to make all things new.
Unlike the disciples, we know and understand what Jesus meant. We know the victory that is ours in His death. We know that even though our sin had separated us, when we trust in the Gospel, we are made righteous in Him. Yes, we will fail. Yes, we will get it wrong. Yes, we will fall short of what we could be. But we have been forgiven and are brought near to Him.
What person(s) in the story do you most relate to? Why? How does the Gospel specifically help you as you face failure?