Anticipating? Astonished? Afraid?

How do you respond to the challenge of doing the will of God? Are you anticipating? Astonished? Afraid?

In Mark 10:32-34, Jesus predicts his impending death, burial and resurrection.  He had come to do the Father’s will.  He had come to suffer.  He had come to provide salvation and as Paul asserts in his classic letter to the Philippian church, “….he was obedient unto death, even death on the cross.” 

Within a few weeks the main event would occur in the life of Jesus Christ.  Repeatedly Jesus had been preparing his disciples for these impending dark hours.  Though far from ‘easy,’ Jesus was anticipating his own death, burial and resurrection.

“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way…” This was the final trip and he was leading the apostolic band into the very heart of God. With Jesus leading the way, all would be ‘well,’ would it not? I marvel at the ‘declarations’ we some times sing while assembled with other believers. We profess ‘submission,’ we declare ‘victory,’ we claim ‘blessing,’ while not knowing fully how costly the will of God will be for us.  We may well sing, “I Surrender All,” or “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken,” or “I Lay Me Down I’m Not My Own,” but will these melodic phrases be our heart-crying when the going gets tough, when the will of God stings with blood, sweat and tears?

With Jesus ‘leading the way,’ Mark concludes his description with the observation, “…and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid.” Were the disciples not shocked that Jesus was heading into danger instead of avoiding it? Was the company who followed not afraid as they sensed the growing opposition and tension within the country over the teachings and conduct of this ‘Rabbi,’ this ‘Son of David,’ this professed ‘Messiah?’

To demonstrate his knowledge of God’s plan and his willingness to obey fully, Jesus provides a ‘teaching moment.’ “Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.” He knew the future as he knew the past.  The Father, HIS Father, by the Spirit, had revealed the plan to HIM. This was ‘the Son’ in whom the Father was well pleased. This was ‘the Son’ who should be listened to and now he was speaking, centering his message on the gospel message.

“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be…

a) betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law.

b) They will condemn him to death and will hand him over

c) to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him.

d) Three days later he will rise.”

Everyone has a role in this epic drama.  The scene will be Jerusalem, the city of the great King, the ‘hub’ of religious activity, the capital of the nation.

There will be a BETRAYAL – We know it was Judas who for 30 coins led a band of the enemies of Jesus to the ‘place’ in the Garden of Gethsemane.

There will be a TRIAL – A mock trial with ‘trumped up’ charges and a guilty verdict will be achieved.

There will be an intense time of SUFFERING – The ‘Gentiles’ – the Romans who ruled with power, would take this accused ‘criminal,’ mock him, spit on him, flog him and ultimately crucify him.

Was the weight of this impending suffering impacting the disciples? Were they really tracking with this teaching? Were they wiling to follow their Master as learners?

There will be a RESURRECTION.  Three days later, the Son of Man will rise, raised by the power of the Father, raised through the power of the Holy Spirit, raised by His own authority.  He would conquer sin, death and hell.  Obedience to the will of God through the pathway of humiliation would lead to exaltation, impacting all those who would trust Him.

The message is clear. The truth is concisely depicted. The Master has spoken.  Tragically, those who had ears were not hearing.  Their minds were elsewhere as often ours are when the Word of God is proclaimed. We, like they, miss the point and the ‘word which we hear does not profit us, because we do not mix it together with faith,’ (Hebrews 4:2) like the Old Testament congregation who also ‘had the gospel preached to them.’

{From This Day in Christian History –

June 7, 1959 – English apologist C.S. Lewis writes in a letter, “If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?” 

May we be ready to face God when our time comes!  Those living in faith and obedience can joyfully sing, “When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim my God how great Thou art!”

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