“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid.” (Mark 10:32, NIV).
“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way.” Does a more concise phrase of Jesus’ settled intent exist in the Gospel narratives that this? Mere days prior to his coming betrayal, arrest, trial, condemnation, flogging, mocking, ‘felt abandonment by God,’ crucifixion, and culminating death, Jesus resolutely walking willingly towards the place of his suffering, out in front of his disciples, resolute in seeing the Father’s upside-down redemption through to its bitter end? If I were walking with the disciples, continually needing to pick up my pace to match Jesus’ step forward, I wonder if I would have even noticed my friend’s determination, let alone query as to its growing intensity. Would I learn from my Lord’s gracious surrender to all that was going to fill this week, his unblinking willingness to face head on the suffering speeding his way? To what degree am I willing to lead the way to my place of suffering, knowing that the Father is walking with me towards the darkness?
“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, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.’” (Mark 10:33-34, NIV).
“Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.” Could Jesus have been any clearer than Mark’s recorded summary? In short, brutal phrases, he describes his suffering as plainly as possible. As a parent of a two-year old, I sometimes feel the frustration I imagine was rising in Jesus’ chest at this moment, exasperation at what else he could do or say to communicate more clearly what was about to happen. As followers of Jesus looking back on these days, we often ridicule the disciple’s stubborn hard-headedness, incredulous at their inability to comprehend what Jesus was about to do on their behalf. And yet – do we not live the same way, choosing what to listen to, ignoring what we do not want to hear? Doesn’t most miscommunication lay at the intersection of an unwillingness to hear the other, and a stubborn expectation that some other way must be chosen? Uncomfortably, I see my own immature heart in the disciples inability to hear what was really going on, and unwillingness to acknowledge the heart of another. I – and them –am still a two-year old in far too many ways, as I struggle to walk with Christ, simultaneously unable and unwilling to acknowledge the transformative suffering that lies before me.