The examples of our fathers and mothers in the early church who died rather than renounce Christ stand as stirring embodiments of faith. They were able to take courage in the midst of their trouble because they knew whom it was they served. Rather than see their suffering as pointless or irrelevant, they were actually able to see the glory of Christ in the midst of it.

It is this basic lesson that Jesus endeavors to press upon his disciples in our passage today. Again and again he has revealed not only that He is a King but also what kind of king He is. In particular, in the feeding of the 5000 He has revealed that He is the Good Shepherd who has compassion for His sheep, who gathers them together and protects them, and who feeds them with His teaching and with food from heaven. You can trust me – don’t be afraid; believe Me. This is the type of King I am. I will protect you; I will provide for you.

Yet we find that the disciples have not quite figured this out yet. They’re getting closer, but they’re not quite there. And it is this story that we read today.