“For they did not yet understand the scripture”

9 For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.[1] Jn 20:9

The same root verb, εἴδω, is translated in this sentence as “understand” and in the previous sentence as “saw.”  The literal translation of the previous phrase is John “perceived and believes;” note the sequential nature of the verbs: he first perceives and now, in the present, continues to believe. In the previous sentence, John is referring to his belief in the fact that Jesus rose from the dead as He had predicted.  In this sentence, he is referring to understanding the scripture which predicted, foretold this event.

The lack of understanding is that this rising from the dead was foretold in scriptures, indeed mandated, i.e. “he had to,” “he must.”  The Greek, δεῖ, is used throughout the Gospels to emphasize the “necessity established by the counsel and decree of God, especially by that purpose of His which relates to the salvation of men by the intervention of Christ and which is disclosed in the Old Testament prophecies concerning what Christ was destined finally to undergo, his sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension.”[2]

Unfortunately, we/I pay little attention to this constant refrain…our minds glaze over at such phrases as “according to the scripture,” “thus it is written.”  Our contemporary Catholic mentality pigeonholes the interpretation, the understanding of this phrase, into the “that meant something to them back then, but without a heck of a lot of effort going through the musty and often indecipherable texts of those haranguing prophets and endless tales of the not just Old but antiquated Testament, I have no idea or concept to what they are referring.  It’s on my post-bucket list of things to get to maybe, possibly, but improbably,” category and places it, not on a back burner, but away in the pantry to gather mold and dust, awaiting a good Parousia cleaning.

It might behoove me to ask You, Lord, since You and, indeed, the Holy Spirit in inspiring the Gospels, put such emphasis on this refrain, for help understanding that to which You refer.  I know it is all those “a,” “b”, to “z”’s, which, in addition to the footnotes, are over and over again generously sprinkled across most any good study bible and which then refer you to the arcane OT texts to which the present text refers.  Help me to pay more heed to such references that I may truly be in awe of and in wonder at not just of the meaning of the present text, but of the amazing, all inclusive historical temporal scope of Your Providential Salvation History, the orchestration of which You knew to the minutest detail even before the Spirit hovered over the waters…way back “in the beginning.”  Amen.  Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1163

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