Recall the brief account of the Ascension as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1: 6-11).  The disciples just stood there staring up into an empty sky and had to be instructed by an angel as to what to do.  They must have been bewildered and disappointed.  the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection might be described as low key.  Jesus showed up in the midst of ordinary circumstances: a private dinner, two men walking along a road, a woman weeping in a garden, some fishermen working a lake. In fact, on those occasions th disciples failed to recognize Jesus at first.  Despite witnessing miracle after miracle and listening to Jesus’ words they still demonstrated their fundamental misunderstanding of Christ and his mission.  It seems a fog of incomprehension that separated them from Jesus had not yet lifted.

To put it a bit differently, those first disciples allowed their own idea of who Christ is and what he ought to do, obscure the real person and mission of Jesus  Three instances of that are recorded in Mark’s gospel.  Mark notes three separate occasions on which Jesus predicted his passion and death.  Three times Jesus said he must pass through suffering and death to come into glory.  Each time the disciples failed to understand.  Each time Jesus countered their misunderstanding, telling them what it means to be his disciple.

We can be like them.  We can be hoping for a Messiah who will correct all that is wrong in the world, who by a continuous miraculous meddling in human affairs will eliminate all suffering and pain.  But that it in conflict with God’s plan to save the world through the suffering and death of his Son and to have people come to new life by joining their suffering and death to that of Jesus.

The disciples all wanted to be the greatest.  Jesus told them to try to become the greatest in service to others.  James and John sought glory.  Jesus offered them the cross.  Peter wanted to remain on Mount Tabor.  Jesus led him to Calvary.  The God they eventually learned to love turned out to be far different from the God they first wanted to love.  So it must be for any true follower of Jesus. True disciples  must learn to love God, not as they might want him to be but as he   presents himself to them, as he in fact comes to them in the reality of their daily lives.