Slow of Heart

Jesus said, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22

Cleopas and his companion were devastated. Walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they discussed Passover week’s tragic events and mourned the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

Then a stranger joined them and asked the reason for their sorrow. Because the man seemed eager to hear the story, they explained the treachery of the chief priests and rulers, the horror of the crucifixion, and the wild tales of the women who had visited the tomb.

But instead of murmuring condolences the stranger said, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). Although the Bible doesn’t tell us how the travelers responded to Jesus’ words, they probably were a little surprised by his rebuke.

Why did Jesus react that way? Why didn’t he ooze sympathy or identify himself immediately? Jesus gave the answer himself: his companions were “slow of heart.”  In Greek that phrase implies that a person’s intellect is inactive or dull; in other words, the person isn’t “connecting the dots.”

What dots were Cleopas and his companion supposed to connect? Jesus answered that too—“all that the prophets had spoken.” For three years, Jesus had emphasized that He came to fulfill the prophecies recorded in the Scriptures (ex., Mark 9:11-13). He told the twelve disciples specifically that he would die and would rise again three days later (Mark 10:32-34). In Jerusalem, He reminded all who gathered around him that He would be lifted up to die (John 12:32-36).

Most of Jesus’ followers were “slow of heart.”  If they had listened carefully, they would have been prepared, not only for the crucifixion but also for the resurrection! Their sorrow would have been tempered by their confidence in Jesus’ ultimate triumph over death.

How many of us make a similar mistake?  We listen to some but not all of Jesus’ words. Then when catastrophe strikes, we tumble into doubt and disappointment instead of clinging to the certainty that He has not forsaken us. I don’t want to be “slow of heart.” I want to hear all God has to say to me. How about you?


Read Luke 24:4-8. What do the angels say to the women at the tomb?  In what ways are their words similar to Jesus’ words in Luke 24:25-26?

Not all of Jesus’ followers were “slow of heart.” Read John 12:3-7. How did this follower develop a discerning heart? Read Luke 10:38-42.

What reassurance did Jesus give the disciples in Mark 14:26-31? What were they thinking about? How was their focus different from Jesus’ focus?

Read John 14:15-31 and 16:5-33. What was Jesus trying to teach the disciples? What can we learn from His words?

Denise K. Loock

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