In the Gospel of Mark today, that “immediate” gospel that just keeps moving forward. Mark is telling the story here of Jesus following the will of the Father, trusting in the Father. Jesus and his disciples here are on the road to Jerusalem. It’s the time of Passover, but that’s not all they are going for. Jerusalem is where Kings get crowned. Jesus’ disciples believe that they are going to Jerusalem and Jesus will be crowned king. They believe He is Messiah. They are right of course, but they have no idea what it’s going to take, or what it’s going to mean, for Jesus of Nazareth to take the crown.
And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. In chapters 8 and 9 of Mark, we see the Pharisees demanding a sign from Jesus(some people really were starting to fear Him), followed by Peter declaring his belief in Jesus to be the Messiah. Then Jesus told the disciples He would NOT be accepted by the scribes and Pharisees, and in fact be put to death. Peter takes Jesus aside to rebuke Him, prompting Jesus to lash out – “But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”” Mark 8:33 ESV Then, the transfiguration on the mountain with Moses and Elijah witnessed by Peter James and John, they come down, Jesus again tells them He is going to be killed, prompting His guys to argue among themselves who would be the greatest among them. (Just a side note, Jesus’ disciples simply could not get what He was talking about when He talked of being killed and raised on the third day. They believed He was Messiah, and Messiah in their minds was a great conqueror. They believed His talk of being raised had to do with the general resurrection of the righteous which most Jews generally believed in, when all the righteous would be raised together).
So, a whole lot going on here, the point being that Jesus’ disciples knew they were heading to Jerusalem for a confrontation, and they believed it was in Jerusalem that He would take His crown. So picture the scene, Jesus leading His disciples to Jerusalem, the center of power, the place Kings get crowned. Jesus walking in front, And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. They were amazed at what? They were AFRAID of what? They were amazed because they believed they were in the procession the king who would be crowned. They were afraid, because they knew some of them might have to die in the confrontation. The only one who could not die, they believed, was Jesus. After all, He was messiah, and He HAD to take the crown.
And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. But Jesus knew otherwise. Jesus knew that He was going to Jerusalem to be crowned king, and that he was going to FAIL. Because that’s what was going to happen. He was going to be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, they would sentence Him to death, and they would give him to the Romans. And the Romans would do what Romans do. They would crucify Him, because that’s what the Romans did to anyone who claimed to be king without their authority.
This is the most stunning thing about Jesus, the most beautiful part of the Gospel – that he knew He was destined to be a FAILED Messiah, cursed by God (somewhere in the Old Testament it does say “Cursed is the man who hangs from a tree“). He knew this was coming, had the opportunity, the temptation to avoid it, yet trusted that the father would make all things right if He surrendered to His will.
And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise. Do you understand the faith it took for Jesus to stay true to the will of the Father? The trust? Because to be a crucified Messiah was to be a FAILED Messiah. Crucifixion was a gruesome, tortuous, humiliating way to die.
But Jesus had to follow through in this way. He had to prove that Cain was wrong. Many people don’t believe that Cain was wrong. Many people reading this don’t believe Cain was wrong. They believe, that’s just how the world works. It’s the way it has to be. We have to watch out for ourselves, or someone else will.
Jesus knew He was on a failed mission. He could have gone different route. He had legions of Jews waiting for some sign to join the battle. He could have mounted his army, taken Herods throne by force, crucified Pilate, kicked our Caiaphas. And He would have been a great success. We would still talk about Him today. Jesus the Conqueror, Jesus the Great. He would have been the great Jewish warrior king.
But…Jesus knew he had to lose in order to win.
He had to fail in order to succeed.
He had to DIE (really die) to bring eternal life.
He had to be crucified to crowned king.
Jesus had to TRUST THE FATHER to reverse the failure with the resurrection. “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46 ESV. Yes, Jesus was announcing His trust in the Father to make all things right.
Without Jesus’ failure, there is no resurrection. No Christmas. Without Good Friday, there is no Easter Sunday. No Prince of peace. No lamb of God. No salvation of the world. No Gospel story.
The story of the Gospel of Jesus is the story of the only life the Father could vindicate with resurrection. Jesus was right, Cain was wrong. God the father could not resurrect Alexander the Great to save the world. Not William the Conqueror. Not Richard the Lionheart. They are what the world needs saving from!! The world needs to be SAVED FROM the great conquerors in history!!
The life of Jesus was the will of the father lived out in a human life, all the way through to his own death. Jesus could have avoided the cross. He even knew who would betray Him! He could have just said to Judas – “Hey, you need to get out of here!” He could have looked out for Himself. But He didn’t. He trusted the Father, that He would raise him from the dead and make all things right.
He is Jesus the conqueror, of course. He CONQUERED sin and death!! But He had to go ALL THE WAY into death to overcome it. And remember this – Jesus did not raise Himself. He had to trust the father to act. He had to trust the Father to vindicate His life, His choices along the way. That is why He cried out at the point of death, announcing His trust in the Father.
And the Father did vindicate Him. By raising Jesus, God the Father is letting us know that yes, that is what I am looking for! That is what we are to be as human beings! We are to love our neighbors, pray for our enemies, and trust the Father.
WHAT IF – Jesus had become Jesus the Great?? How would history be different??
He trusted the father all the way through His own death. Just how far are you willing to trust Him?
“And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.””
Mark 10:32-34 ESV