I wonder have you ever thought how many times you have to tell people something for it to sink in? It’s a question I often feel is relevant when perching, and I am sure Phil feels the same, but it does seem to be a human condition. I remember when our daughter Louise was little once she learned to walk she would run around the house looking into everything and if there was an unexplained noise or an oh no, in she would come say what! What! What is it, so much so that we called her Kate Adie, you may remember Kate was always at the scene of every disaster or war Kate Adie and our Louise always wanted to know what happened and Louise always wanted it told to her more than once.
Now our reading opens in verse 32 with Jesus telling the for the third time that he is going to die, you may remember Jesus told the disciples in chapter 8 verses 31-33 that’s the one were Peter lectured Jesus and Jesus had to put Peter in his place, and then in chapter 9 verses 30-33 Jesus tells them again that he is going to die and this time there are no comment’s by any of the disciples we are told by Mark in chapter 9: 32 ‘But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it’.
So just in case they did not get it Jesus tells them again and this time in greater detail and no surprise to us I hope, as we all know that Jesus is God, he gets it exactly right, we read in verses 32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
So we have just read that even after three years with Jesus the disciples are still astonished by Him, but others the ones who are just tagging along were afraid, the disciples are starting to understand that with Jesus all things are possible and that when He has a purpose there is no stopping him, while the followers are saying what is he doing He know the Pharisees are out to get him, He will get us mixed up in this and I would expect that some would have drafted of or at the very least put a distance between themselves and Jesus.
Let’s just look at the followers of Jesus in this context, do we understand who and what they were and are today.
Now some of you may be aware that I support Arsenal and have done so for just about all my life, now way back in the distant past Arsenal played Man Untied in the FA Cup final, it is regarded as one of the greatest-ever finishes in an FA Cup final, it is also called “Five-minute Final”, I was there at Wembley I had been a season ticket holder for six years and not missed a home match of away FA cup match in that time and that was to continue for another six years, but that night when we returned to north London everyone was out celebrating, people who had never seen Arsenal live you would have thought they had been at the match, it was a very disappointing night, fast forward to what some of you may remember the next season and the next Final when West Ham got to the final again against Arsenal, I was there and witnessed the flukiest goal ever scored in a final, and West Ham won.
We returned to north London no one was out and we had a great night, we were looking forward to going to Brussels to play in the European cup winners cup final four days later, we lost that as well, not a great five days but we had another great night, my point is that followers hang back and when things get tough fade way, us we will see when the Easter story unfolds over the next two weeks. The followers fade away and even turn to the other side the disciples run yes but never turn away, and some are there at the cross. So there is deference between supports and follows of a team, and there is deference between disciple of Jesus and those who just go to church, the question is which are we, we are all called to be disciples of Jesus.
But Jesus is not worried he is leading the way, He knows he must go to Jerusalem, and because he loves the disciples and us all. He wants to give the disciples a heads up on what is going to happen, and how it is going to happen. Jesus is preparing them He is trying to take the some of the sting out of what will happen.
And none of the disciples question this, they are not like my daughter or Kate Adie, they are in effect saying ok, if you say so, I am sure that they were thinking, but you’re the Son of God, after all Peter had called Jesus the Christ, and Jesus had said yes your right, they properly thought God won’t let it happen to Jesus.
But notice that this time in verses 32-34 Jesus tells them:
- the where, Jerusalem,
- the how, that he will handed over,
- to who, the chief priests and the teachers of the law,
- and also who will put Him to death and how they will do that
- and also the lead up to that death,
- Who he will be hand over to the - Gentiles,
- who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him – the Gentiles..
And Jesus also says that in three days he will rise, and still there are on questions about this, it is accepted, that is the disciples showing faith.
Ok, Jesus we believe that if you do die, you will raise after three days. That is true faith, putting your trust for everything in Jesus. Not just following.
And then in verse 35 we read that James and John, do not seem to have taken in what Jesus has spoken about as they look to their own eternal glory, verse 37 they asked ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory’. Some scholars think that they are talking about on earth others in heaven, but it makes no difference they are talking about themselves and their glory.
And do you notice that Jesus shows just how much He loves them, he gently rebukes them, if that was me I am sure I would have been saying are you not listing to what I am saying about my death and more importantly my raising, all your interested in is yourselves and your own place in the future, but Jesus because of His love for them and for us tells them quietly and in a controlled manner what is going to happen to them in the future.
Jesus said in verse 38 “You don’t know what you are asking, …Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
And we like James and John can sometimes get above ourselves, we can think that we are important that our opinion is worth more than others that we are right and they are wrong that we are the top dogs only a little lower than Jesus, and this is I think is were James and John are, look at their answer in verse 39 “We can they say”.
And Jesus still loving them patiently explains a bit of their future, Jesus says in verse 39 “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with” That baptism by the way is the Holy Spirit that will come upon the disciples on Pentecost.
And then still with great gentleness explains that it is not His gift to give, Jesus says in verse 40 “but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” Jesus is saying there is a plan and it is in motion and it will be fulfilled.
And then we read that in verse 41 the rest of the disciples heard about this and not surprisingly it kicked off, I can just hear it, who do you think you are, what makes you better than us, it must have been a bit heated I am sure.
And what does Jesus do, does the take sides does he turn his back on them, No he calls them to order and in love he tells them that they are special, that as disciples of His they are expected to live to a higher standard, to in effect love one another and to server each other and others.
In verse 42 Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. Why do people remember Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, because they were servants who wanted only to serve God and follow Jesus teachings.
So Jesus is saying that we if we are true disciples of His, we are to be servants we are to serve our brothers and sisters, we in fact must be like a slave, and we are to be full of love, just like Jesus, in fact the Apostle Paul puts it like this in 1 Corinthians 13 and I paraphrase - If I do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal… If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
In other words you can work your socks of for the kingdom of God or for your charity or your church but if you do not have love you have nothing in God’s Kingdom, we need to be filled every day with God’s spirit and Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 what that looks like he says “The fruit of the Spirit is love (that word again), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
So are we a disciple of Jesus or Just a follower? Someone that will fade away when things get tough or do not go our way, are we filled with the Holy Spirit, do we ask to be refilled with the Holy Spirit each day, do we ask God to lead us each day to say the words that will please him and to help us do only those things that will please him, do we ask God to lead us in the way of Jesus each day, are we living our life to please Jesus or please ourselves, and when we can’t, when we let Jesus down are we asking for forgiveness and are we in turn forgiving others. Is our life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?
If you still got your Bibles open please turn to verse 45 Jesus says “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
Jesus came to serve and to show us God’s love for us, should we not respond in the same way. And then Jesus says “and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
And this leads us into the Easter message and many are sometime confused by this message Tim Keller in his book King’s Cross puts it like this he says ‘ the final phrase “to give his life as a ransom for many” sums up the reason why Jesus had to die. Jesus came to be a substitute sacrifice’, in the time of Jesus you could buy a slaves freedom, and the word ransom in the Greek in Jesus day meant “ to buy the freedom of a slave or a prisoner”. The ransomer would have to make a huge sacrificial payment that matched the value, or paid the debt of the slave or the prisoner in order to procure there freedom.
Jesus came to pay that kind of ransom, and since the slavery Jesus is dealing with is all of mankind’s and the associated evil, it required a massive payment. Jesus is saying “I (one of the trinity of God) will pay the ransom that you could not possibly pay and it will give you freedom, and that payment is Jesus death on the cross.
So in the light of what Jesus has done for us what is our response are we going to step up to the mark, and be the people Jesus would want to call good and trusted servant, or are we just going to be followers never quite trusting God and never being filled with His Holy Spirit.
We always have a choose, but like all chooses get it wrong and there will be a cost, Jesus said “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'” And if we do we will be filled with the Holy Spirit and we will have The fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Jesus gave it all up for us, what is our response?
Let’s bow our heads in prayer: Lord we are sorry that we do not always get it right, help us through your Holy Spirit to follow you to the ends of the earth to be your Disciples, to do your will and to love you and our neighbours with all our heart body and soul and we pray that the fruit of your Spirit will be evident in our lives. In Jesus name we pray, Amen