You would think that the king would be the first to eat at the rich banqueting tables of his palace. But tables heavily laden with delectable, rich food provide an excellent opportunity for an enemy to poison the king. So a man was chosen to go before the king and taste his food. How would you like to be that man? Going first in life is not always desirable; it’s often risky and dangerous. Even so there is a big difference between the desire to be first and the fortitude to go first. Those who would be first are selfish; those who would go first are selfless.
“Now [Jesus, the Twelve, and others] were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” ” (Mark 10:32–34)
Amazed and Afraid
The apostles of Jesus were amazed. Those who followed at a distance were afraid. Why the amazement and fear? It stems from the confident and steadfast stride of Jesus as He moves toward the cross, the instrument of His death. Mark 10 is about discipleship and mentoring. Jesus taught His disciples about the importance and permanency of marriage because of the natural tendency to search out loopholes in order to escape from our responsibilities before God (10.1-12). Second, Jesus also taught the disciples about the importance of receiving the Kingdom of God and maintaining our citizenship with quiet, loving dependence (10.13-16). Finally, Jesus taught His disciples about the importance of complete reliance upon Him and nothing else for the joy of eternal life (10.17-31).
Three passages prefacing the one under our consideration stress the importance of faithfulness. Whatever it means to follow Jesus Christ, it most certainly will include a component of dependability. Jesus modeled faithfulness as the selfless savior, the ransom and servant of all. He leads out before all of His disciples: those who follow close and are amazed and those who follow at a distance and are afraid.
Roads leading to Jerusalem necessitate an ascent. Jesus is ascending in more ways than one. The road to Jerusalem on this day was the ascent to the climax of His ministry. As He does so, He offers the third and fullest prediction of what awaited Him. The following components detail the prediction for us:
- His betrayal to the chief priests and scribes (Sanhedrin)
- Condemnation by the Sanhedrin
- The deliverance of Jesus to the Romans due to the fact that the Jewish leaders could not enforce capital punishment on their own
- The mocking, scourging, and spitting
- The murder of Jesus Christ
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ
The three predictions in the Gospel of Mark have two common elements: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem knowing what would befall Him. The sorrowful, bleak, and difficult ascent up the Jerusalem road forms quite a contrast with the resurrection and redemption that would be the end result of Jesus’ finished work. There is a contrast between the confident Master and the beleaguered disciple. It is unfortunate that this contrast continues to the present day. This in spite of all we know.
Life-Giver or Life-Grasper
It is a contrast between the selfish life-graspers (10.35-40) and the selfless Life-giver (10.41-45). James, John, and the other ten apostles pitifully demonstrate what it is to grasp life only to lose it. Jesus is a powerful example of One who selflessly gives His life only to gain redemption for all of us. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (10.45). Are you one who serves or one who is served? Are you a life-giver or a life-grasper?