“Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this….” Mark 8:31, 32
“Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because He was teaching His disciples. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.’ ” Mark 9:30, 31
“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. ‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’ He said, ‘and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise.’ ” Mark 10:32-34
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Jesus didn’t come to be an example, but to be a substitute. He came to be a ransom for many. The Greek preposition anti that the NIV translates for also has the meaning of in place of. Jesus came to take our place in death that we could be ransomed from sin and its penalty and be given eternal life.
The disciples were thinking Jesus was going to set up a worldly kingdom where they would all have good managerial government jobs and have Jesus’ ear when it came to making policy and decisions. They were not ready for the encounter with what Jesus real purpose in coming to this earth was all about. He starts out in chapter 8 by letting them know that He would suffer, and be rejected by the law orientated spiritual leaders of Israel. In their rage these leaders would become instrumental in having Him killed by the authorities.
But, now in the surprise of all surprises He states, “and after three days He will rise.” One moment they think they are going down to Jerusalem to set up the Kingdom on earth and a few minutes later they are listening to Jesus not only predict His own death, but also state that the grave could not hold Him. I’m intrigued that Jesus makes mention that these leaders that would kill Him were “teachers of the law.”
Has this not been the controversy that has raged in Christianity for generations? On one hand are the religious leaders and their firm adherence to the laws of Moses and on the other Jesus who came to die and redeem mankind. Over and over throughout the Scriptures Jesus is opposed by these leaders because of His working outside the box. He healed on the Sabbath, He allowed His disciples to pick corn on the Sabbath, He challenged their assumptions about the law in the story of the woman caught in adultery and the list goes on.
The religious leaders unfortunately are more concerned with their rules than they are with God’s forgiving, earth-shattering grace. They saw everything through the prism of law keeping and anything that disagreed or challenged this view was to be seen with suspicion and hatred. These leaders were so wrapped up in doing and obeying the minutia of the law that they didn’t see Jesus as the fulfillment of the law when He stood directly in front of them.
Jesus, however threw another ringer into the disciples thinking in chapter 9 when He introduces the reality of a traitor in their midst. “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of man.” But even with this blockbuster news Jesus is not finished teaching the disciples.
He goes on in chapter 10 to tell them, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise.” Jesus introduces the reality of how He will be treated by those that will kill Him. He will be spit upon, flogged and finally killed.
As they travelled the disciples must have had a great deal to think about, for after all their own destiny was very much tied up in Jesus’ destiny. Maybe it would be more than they could handle but Jesus hadn’t told them that it would be on a cross that He would die. Some things are left better not said for the time being.
Yet, in spite of all the fear and confusion that the disciples suddenly found themselves facing, Jesus didn’t leave them confounded and discouraged. In all three chapters He states that on the third day He would rise again. And with this promise the disciples and all humanity can breath easier.
Somehow the disciples missed it. When you read chapter 10 you discover James and John coming to Jesus and asking to sit at His left and His right when He comes into His glory. Jesus glory of course was manifested at the cross and that was not what those two disciples were thinking about.
I wonder at times what I really understand about the cross and the real significance of it to my life. Do I take my salvation for granted or do I long for it? Do I concentrate more on the rewards of redemption than what Jesus went through to provide it for me? Do I make the story of salvation about me instead of about the amazing self-sacrificing love of God?
I don’t have answers for all these questions because some days I feel more in tune with God than others. But, what I do know is regardless of how I think about salvation, I have assurance of salvation because Jesus rose on the third day after being tortured and killed by keepers of the law.