Yesterday morning, I preached from Mark 9:30-32. In this passage, we see Jesus passing through Galilee as He teaches His disciples about the cross and the resurrection. Jesus understood, in His humanity, the utter turmoil these men would face as their leader, the Messiah, was brutally killed on a cross. He wanted them to be prepared.
They had walked away from their tax booth, fishing nets, families, cultural involvement, and followed Jesus. They had witnessed Him perform signs and wonders that validate His claim to be the Messiah. They had heard His preaching and witnessed Him raise the dead, heal the sick, and control the wind and waves. Therefore, in many ways, they were just waiting on Him to overthrow King Herod and set His people free. They were not considering the eternal battle – the spiritual war – that Jesus was about to fight.
Jesus Prophesied of His Death
What King would surrender to a murderous plot? If He knew about it ahead of time, why not evade it? How does surrendering to a cross fulfill the Messianic hope of the One who would come and set the people free? The cross would be a shameful thing for the disciples. They would be subjected to mockery.
The earliest picture of Christ has been taken from Rome, from one of the barracks, where a picture was found of a man kneeling down and worshipping his God. The picture portrays Christ hanging on the cross and you can see his body stretched out on the cross. However, the head of Christ is pictured as a donkey. That’s precisely what the Greeks thought of Jesus – they considered Him utter foolishness. Jesus understood the shame and mockery they would face, and He was preparing them ahead of time.
Jesus’ death would be painful, shameful, and brutal. He would not die of old age or of a disease. He would be killed. Jesus clearly prophesied of His own death. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Leave out the cross and you have killed the religion of Jesus. Atonement by the blood of Jesus is not an arm of Christian truth; it is the heart of it.”
Jesus Prophesied of His Resurrection
The word gospel means “good news.” It would not be good news for Jesus to be killed. It that’s where the story ended, it wouldn’t be good news. Jesus went on to prophesy of His resurrection. He would die, but on the third day, He would rise from the dead. This is the victorious ending to the ghastly scene of His brutal death.
- Jesus’ resurrection communicates the absolute validity of Jesus’ preaching. His doctrine is true and must be followed.
- Jesus’ resurrection communicates the absolute necessity of submitting to Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.
- Jesus’ resurrection communicates the exclusivity of Christ – He is the only way to be reconciled to God.
Jesus’ Followers were Perplexed
For these disciples, they couldn’t pick up their New Testament and read back into history and see the ending. They were living it. It was fresh, real, and raw. Therefore, in many ways, they were fearful of Jesus’ words. The glorious gospel that we find such great hope and confidence in, they were afraid of. They didn’t have the ending of the story before them on their smart phone app. They were hearing just small revelations and prophecies given to them by Jesus, and they couldn’t handle it. They became so fearful that they refused to ask Him to further explain.
Before we rush too quickly to judge these fearful disciples, let’s look ahead in the story to see what happened next. After Jesus’ prophecies came to fulfillment and He was raised from the dead, this fearful discouraged band of brothers turned into a courageous group of martyrs for their faith. How were they transformed into men of courage to boldly declare the gospel in the streets of Jerusalem just days after Jesus was put to death under the authority of the religious establishment? The answer can be found in the words of the disciples after they were summoned to stand before the rulers and give an account of their preaching. They were told to stop preaching the gospel. This is how they responded:
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,  for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
May God grant us strength to remain steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord in this present evil age. We can find our hope in the fulfilled prophecies of Jesus – He was killed and on the third day He was raised from the dead.