When my husband and I were newlyweds, we spent a night in a small,
historic hotel in Calvert, Texas, where his relatives held a family
reunion every summer. The wood frame, two-story hotel sat beside
a railroad track. In the middle of the night a train roared through
town, waking us with reverberations like a tornado. While chatting
with the hotel manager the next day, we asked how he could possibly
live so close to the tracks. His response? After so many years of living
there, he no longer heard the train.
Sometimes we too show exceptional skills when it comes to
tuning out sounds that we don’t like. We learn to hear what we want
to hear and ignore the rest.
In today’s scripture, Jesus grapples with his followers’ tendency
to tune out his message. On their way to Jerusalem, Jesus takes the
twelve aside and, for the third time, foretells his death and resurrec-
tion. He details what authorities will do to him: condemn, mock,
flog, and crucify. Then, he adds, he will be raised on the third day.
That last sentence is what James and John and their mother hear.
That final sentence becomes their focus as they dismiss the difficulty
of drinking the cup that Jesus will drink. The other ten tune out
Jesus’s message as well, seeming more upset by the brothers seeking
privilege than the prospect of Jesus’s death. Once again Jesus warns
that following him will lead to deep personal sacrifice. No one seems
able to hear this clear call.
We often say that we want to hear Jesus; we plead earnestly to
hear a word from God. But how many times do we tune out the
significant messages Christ has been sharing with us all along?
What words of Christ have you learned to tune out? What would it take for you to hear them again?
Lord, help me listen for your voice bravely, especially when what you say is not what I want to hear. Amen.