Mark 9:32

But the disciples did not understand his meaning and were afraid to question him.


of course they didn’t understand
even more off course is our claim
that we unquestioningly get it
no questions about specialness
just ask us how nice we are
we’ll let you know how much nicer
you could be than bring this up

still trying to go by the book
in Metaphorland
get definitions lined out first
thins mystery to a dictionary
and not a recent one at that
so a lot of nodding goes on
as hypnotized sleep-walkers shuffle on


It will be easy for readers to deride the disciples and expect their privileged position will keep them from the same error of being silenced by a projection of fear of suffering and death.

Sabin-1177 reminds us,

The disciples are stand-ins for the audience, and their “slowness to understand” functions as a device that stimulates the response of the hearer; when they fail to hear or see, the listener is moved to fill in the blanks. Finally, the very weakness of the disciples serves the theological purpose of highlighting God’s inclusiveness. Their glaring faults indicate that they are decidedly not a special elite. Through his images of the non-comprehending disciples Mark excludes no one but invites all who listen to identify.

Our place of identification goes beyond simply not knowing the rest of the story. There are usually several spots in our lives where we are caught between not understanding and not wanting to understand because the consequence of understanding would be to change the direction of our life from putting ourselves and our comfort first.

Stephen D. Moore’s chapter on “Deconstructive Criticism” in Anderson97–101 follows Derrida in suggesting that which puts the disciples in a position of being both insiders and outsiders is that Jesus’ plain speaking is more like writing than speaking. Writing loses some author-ity, leading to a willingness to let mis-understanding stand. We get the disciples more when we are more skeptical of ourselves.

“Writing, traditionally, is the errant medium with its meaning cut adrift from the consciousness of its producer…. Jesus’ speech is unable to reach its mark. It falls to the ground and is picked up wrongly…. Like Jesus who drifts from misunderstanding to misunderstanding across the surface of Mark’s page, writing has always been a wandering outcast drifting from (mis)reading to (mis)reading.”

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