Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, 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 to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
The way the disciples react to these predictions of Jesus’ death is telling. They are disbelieving. Peter even goes so far as to contradict Jesus. And then in Matthew 20, the mother of James and John hears about it and then in the next breath is trying to get the cushy spots for her sons in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus is very gracious with her, turning it into a teachable moment, but there is a hard reality about following Jesus.
The glory is hidden. The riches are elusive. The authority is found in submission. And the way to greatness is costly sacrifice. In short: It is not the kind of kingdom to which you have become accustomed.
But it is not some kind of divine accident. Jesus was not waylaid on His way to greatness. A common explanation purely anthological view of the development of Christianity is that the disciples, shocked and dismayed at the death of Jesus, quickly came up with this resurrection story to hastily cobble together a cover-up for the failure of their Rabbi. Nothing could be further from the truth (well, except for the shock and dismay bit).]
“For [God the Father] chose us in [Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
It the path to the cross was walked with intention, knowledge and love. At the cross, Jesus turned the day of Satan’s triumph into his defeat. At the cross, Jesus showed a better way for us. At the cross, Jesus satisfied all the justice and love pent up in the heart of the Father for His children.
It was not some haphazard byway that lead Jesus there. It was a setup. In one supreme act of obedience and self-sacrifice He flipped the world upside down.
So, has He flipped your world upside down? That is certainly how things played out for James and John. Perhaps He has turned your sorrow to joy. Perhaps He has taken your pride and made you humble. Maybe He is just getting started and you are wondering what is going to happen. Chase Him. Don’t let Him out of your sight. Even if it leads you to the cross. We all who follow Jesus find ourselves there eventually.
Lord, I will follow. Lead the way.