Luke 9:43b-45 (NLT)

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” 45 But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.


Was the significance "actively" hidden from the disciples in the sense that they were prevented from understanding, or is this a more "passive" sort, as in the disciples just didn't get what Jesus was saying? If the former, why was the significance of Jesus' statement obscured, and if the latter, why didn't Jesus clarify the matter? Either way, what was the point of keeping the disciples from understanding the significance of Jesus' soon-to-be betrayal?

I'd most appreciate writings from the early church fathers, but exegesis is also welcome.

2 Answers 2


Matthew Henry writes:

This prediction of Christ's sufferings was plain enough, but the disciples would not understand it, because it agreed not with their notions. A little child is the emblem by which Christ teaches us simplicity and humility. What greater honour can any man attain to in this world, than to be received by men as a messenger of God and Christ; and to have God and Christ own themselves received and welcomed in him! If ever any society of Christians in this world, had reason to silence those not of their own communion, the twelve disciples at this time had; yet Christ warned them not to do the like again. Those may be found faithful followers of Christ, and may be accepted of him, who do not follow with us.

So Henry says they did not understand because it was not what they wanted to understand.

Cyril of Alexandria writes (SERMON LIII):

In order, therefore, that they might know what certainly would happen, He bade them, so to speak, store up the mystery in their mind. "For lay ye it," He says, "to your hearts." In which words, the "ye" distinguishes them from all others. For He wished indeed that they should themselves know what would happen, but not that they should communicate it to others. For it was not right for the unlearned to be taught simply His future passion, but far better, to convince them at the same time of His having risen divinely from the grave, and abolished death, and so avoid the danger of their being offended.

He says that Jesus knew that the disciples would worry and question their faith when Jesus was crucified, but so that they would not fall away, he told them exactly what would happen, that they might store it in their minds until the day when they needed to understand it, and it would be revealed to them at that point.

I think the answer is a combination of these two - that the disciples did not want to try to understand the evil that was ahead, but also that Jesus cared for them and showed it so they might not fear, but continue to trust in him while he was in the grave.

Additionally, I found this sermon that makes an interesting argument that the disciples were not yet saved. It makes some interesting points, but I am not sure I agree with the conclusions there, especially with some of the declarations the disciples made before this point and the faith they did have, as evidenced by the works they performed. The main points were:

Again, there is some useful commentary there, but I would be careful because some claims are made that do not seem to be supported by Scripture.


It was not Jesus' purpose that night to divert all their attention to Judas and his betrayal.

Taking the account as a whole, the time Jesus was spending with the disciples was about preparing them (post resurrection)for what would soon take place. Lessons (foot washing); final commands (Love one another); Communion (the body and the blood); and fellowship (and more).

Although the disciples couldn't wrap their minds around the Messiah actually dying (seriously, who could?), Jesus' words came back to them in hindsight when they would need to act on them (post ascension). Jesus needed to let them know that he knew Judas was going to betray him so that they wouldn't later be confused at the possibility that Jesus was caught off guard. If he had explained the details of what Judas was doing, they most certainly would have diverted all their attention to the betrayal and missed the import of what Jesus knew they needed from him that night. Jesus was not drawing attention to himself.

This time was about his talmidim (disciples).

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