Friday, February 21, 2014

HEADED FOR TROUBLE (Mark Chapter 10)

Why did Jesus die?  Who killed Him?  What difference does it make?  People have a lot of different opinions regarding the cross.  To the unsaved, the cross is a foolish thing, but to the saved, it represents the power and wisdom of God (Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24).  Many suppose it to be the tragic and premature end to a good man’s life.  But that’s not what happened.

That which occurred upon the cross represents the most significant event in the history of man.  At the cross, the true nature of God is revealed.  Through the cross, salvation has been made available.  What you think about the cross matters!

The cross was no accident.  It was according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (John 3:16; Acts 2:23).  The Father purposed to send Jesus to the cross, Jesus fully submitted Himself to the Father’s plan.

The events of Mark 10:32-34 occurred sometime after the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  That amazing and undeniable miracle caused quite a stir.  Many of the Jews who witnessed it believed in Jesus (John 11:45).  The chief priests and Pharisees convened a council and decided from that day to plot together to kill Jesus (John 11:53).  They gave orders “that if anyone knew where (Jesus) was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him” (John 11:57).  They even took counsel to put Lazarus to death (John 12:9-11).  So deep was this hatred of Jesus that even disharmonious foes—the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees—found common ground in it (Matthew 22:15-16, 23).

So as Jesus was making His way to Jerusalem the disciples were “amazed” (Mark 11:32).  Why were they amazed?  They were amazed, knowing full well the hazards associated with Jesus’ return to Jerusalem, that Jesus was purposefully headed there.  The others who were accompanying Jesus “were afraid” (Mark 11:32).  The disciples were amazed and the crowds of people were afraid but Jesus was undeterred.  He typically walked amongst his disciples, but here he is out front leading the way.  According to Luke’s gospel, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Perhaps, you say, he was unaware of what lie ahead?  He knew.  Mark 11:32, “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 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.”  He had told them before, and He told them again of that which awaited Him in Jerusalem (Cf. Mark 8:31-32, 9:31-32).  He knew full well the extent of the sufferings He would face.  He had said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished” (Luke 12:50).  He would later say, “My Father, if it be possible, let his cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

In making His way to the cross Jesus courageously and obediently purposed to fulfill the Father’s will.  The cross was no accident.  He was aware of His betrayal before He was betrayed.  He acquiesced to the arresting mob, though He had the power to collapse them all to the ground (John 18:6).  He could have called on “twelve legions of angels” to rescue Him, but how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled (Matthew 26:53-54)?  He remained silent when questioned and “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23; Cf. Isaiah 53:7).  He “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:9).  All this to rescue lost sinners (1 Peter 2:24-25, 3:18)!  “He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace!  Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race!  ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free, For, O my God, it found out me.  Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!”  He knew full well what lay ahead, but in loving obedience and compassion for lost sinners, He deliberately headed for trouble.

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