At no time of our Lord’s ministry did the disciples seem to comprehend fully the object of His coming into the world. The humiliation, the atonement, the crucifixion were hidden things to them. The plainest words and clearest warnings from their Master of what was going to befall Him seemed to have had no effect on their minds. They understood not. They perceived not. It was hid from their eyes. Once Peter even tried to dissuade our Lord from suffering. “Be it far from thee, Lord,” he said, “this shall not be unto thee” (Matt. 16:22; Luke 18:34; 9:45).
Frequently you will see things in their spirit and demeanor that are not at all to be commended. One day we are told they disputed among themselves who should be greatest (Mark 9:34). Another day they considered not His miracles and their hearts were hardened (Mark 6:52). Once, two of them wished to call down fire from heaven upon a village, because it did not receive them (Luke 9:54). In the
Even after the resurrection, you see the same unbelief and hardness of heart cling to them; though they saw their Lord with their eyes, and touched Him with their hands, even then some doubted. So weak were they in faith! So slow of heart were they “to believe all that the prophets had spoken” (Luke 24:25). So backward were they in understanding the meaning of our Lord’s words and actions, and life and death.
But what do you see in our Lord’s behavior towards these disciples all through His ministry? You see nothing but unchanging piety, compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, and love. He does not cast them off for their stupidity. He does not reject them for their unbelief. He does not dismiss them forever for cowardice. He teaches them as they are able to bear. He leads them on step by step, as a nurse does an infant when it first begins to walk. He sends them kind messages as soon as He is risen from the dead. “Go,” He said to the woman. “Go tell my brethren that they go into
~J.C. Ryle from Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots