Jesus Speaks Concerning His Death And Resurrection - Mark 8-10
Three times in the gospel of Mark Jesus begins to teach His disciples that He is going to suffer and die and then be raised from the dead (Mark 8:31-38, 9:30-37, Mark 10:32-45). After each of these teachings, however, the disciples are portrayed in a pretty unflattering way. For example, after Jesus first begins to teach plainly about this, Peter began to rebuke Jesus. Therefore, Jesus turns toward His disciples and says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (33) After this Jesus goes on to teach them that they need to deny themselves and pick up their cross and follow Him.
Then in Mark 9, Jesus again speaks to them about His death and resurrection. The disciples had many questions but they were too afraid to ask Jesus about them. As they walked to Capernaum Jesus asked His disciples what they had talked about along the way. They kept silent because they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. Jesus then has to teach them saying, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” To make this teaching more meaningful Jesus then takes a child up into His arms and says, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (35-37)
Finally, in Mark 10 Jesus again speaks to them about His death and resurrection. Immediately after this two of His disciples come to Jesus and ask Him a question. It is a question that will anger the other ten apostles. They ask, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (37) Jesus tells them that they do not know what they are asking. He tells them that they will have to drink of the cup of suffering that He will and they will have to be baptized into suffering as He is going too. Jesus affirms that they will be able to do this but that He does not have the authority to place them upon His right and His left. This is something that the Father alone must do.
Some years ago, my dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness. There was only a few months between the diagnosis and his death. All of us knew that that day was coming and we all tried to prepare for it the best that we knew how. But when it was all said and done I came to the death of my dad and felt like all of the preparation was meaningless. The reality of that moment was far different than anything that I had ever expected. Those months of preparation and training seemed so awkward as I looked back upon them. My dad seemed nervous during this period as well because one of his main concerns during this time was that his children might fight over the way he had divided up the inheritance.
In some ways it seems like the disciples struggled with this as well. Jesus kept talking about His suffering, death and resurrection and the disciples were struggling to process it. The more that Jesus spoke of this event the more selfishness and pride surfaced and spilled over eventually among them all. We saw this in Mark 10:41, “And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.”
Three times Jesus has spoken of these things and three times the disciples had responded poorly. But I find it fascinating that Jesus comes to this last discussion in Mark 10 as He is going to Jerusalem and He actually affirms and encourages these two disciples who ask Him a question without understanding (10:38). He tells them that they will indeed be able to drink of the cup of suffering and to partake in the baptism of suffering (39).
There are many times in the Christian life when we, like the disciples, reveal the pride and selfishness in our hearts; but God knows how to preserve us till the end. In these texts Jesus often speaks of His betrayal. He speaks of how he will be betrayed by the religious and political leaders and by the Jews and the Gentiles. And yet, Jesus never once hints that his disciples will betray Him. Instead, even though they respond the way they do after each of these teachings He affirms that they will drink of the same cup and of the same baptism. Peter will deny Him three times and the disciples will all run away but they will be kept by God through it and then be faithful to live and die faithfully.
One last thought that I have often contemplated this week as I have considered these text. Jesus speaks of His suffering and then speaks of His resurrection. The disciples could not truly understand all that Jesus was telling them. But in its own way, for the purposes that Jesus intended, these words would be grace to them when they needed it most.
This week I talked to someone who lost a friend. I asked if they knew Jesus and they said that they thought that they did. My friends, every true disciple of Jesus ought to live their life in such a way that they speak of their calling to suffer for Christ and also speak of the hope that they have in Christ to be resurrected from the dead. Too many people experience the death of their friends and hope that they may have known Christ. Wouldn’t it be such a blessing to live our lives in such a way that we can encourage others in death the way that Christ does in these passages?
In these passages Jesus teaches us not only with words but with His actions as well. Henry Scougal in his book, 'The Life Of God In The Soul Of A Man', speaks of Jesus in this way, "A main part of Jesus' ministry in this world was to teach, by His practice, what He did require of others, - and to make His own conversation an exact resemblance of those unparalleled rules which He prescribed; so that if ever true goodness was visible to mortal eyes, it was then, when His presence did beautify and illustrate this lower world."
My hope is that I will live faithfully for the LORD in life and in death. And in doing so, I will be able to testify to those around me about the suffering of my body and also about the great hope we have in Christ. They will put my body in the grave for a time but my spirit will be with the LORD.