Summary: Are we taking what we prefer, or what we see as a good thing and entering into the Kingdom of God and claiming it as God’s will, when it is nothing but our own doing?
Pile the kids in the car, hit the remote, garage door opens, and out you go on another drive. Grocery store. Hardware store. The bank. Costco. It is just a trip across town. Nothing exciting, just an every day trip. Kids either don’t want to go, or they complain about going or they act bored out of their minds, for them, time is frozen still.
However, you extend that journey to an exotic location (let’s say, Disney World) and there is a different kind of energy in the air, right? The kids are waiting for you in the car, they are more than happy to go and they cannot wait to arrive at the destination, they can’t are eager to get on the plane. Family members forget to go to the bathroom before they leave home; they for get to pack necessary items; they put up with all kinds of inconvenience because the imagine how great it is going to be, other things fall by the way side. Everything changes, even the perception of time.
Here in our Scripture this morning we see this type of trip: A trip to an exotic location, Jerusalem. They have all been to Jerusalem before, but the meaning of this trip to Jerusalem is very different from any other trip to Jerusalem. The disciples know, and there is an anticipation in the air, that something big will happen with Jesus on this trip to Jerusalem. Understand, there is an electricity in the air, everyone is clued in that something is up.
See, in the first verse, verse 32, we see that the disciples are astonished and the others who were walking with them were afraid. The disciples are astonished, because they have been with Jesus for about three years, and now, finally, things are coming together, and for them, being the closest to Jesus, this means they will be prominent. It is like they got in on the ground floor of a start up company, they see themselves like the Google millionaires, they are so lucky, they can hardly believe it!
The people on the other hand, are afraid. They see no promise of rank and fame. They know that Jesus has had conflict with the Temple authorities in the past and these men are not friends of Jesus. They also believe, along with the disciples, that Jesus, being the promised Messiah, is going to Jerusalem to restore the glory of the throne of David, that Jesus will be enthroned in power – and that means confrontation with the current keepers of the throne, the Romans. They are afraid for themselves, their families, and for Jesus. Perhaps, even though Jesus is the Messiah, this is not the right time, maybe Jesus should wait. There are some who would love to see Jesus eliminated like John the Baptist was. The disciples hope for the best the people fear for the worst.
So with this excitement of the journey in the air, the disciples just can’t hear what Jesus is saying in verses 33 and 34 when Jesus says in very plain terms, exactly what will happen to him in the very short future. It is quite stark that Jesus makes this vary powerful statement and there is no response form the disciples. Did they hear? Did they comprehend? It seems that the reality of death of Jesus seems impossible to the disciples. Here they have been with Jesus and have seen him walk on water, drive out demons, heal people left and right and even raise the dead. All these things are things that are completely impossible. Anyone who could do such things, why they would be untouchable. I mean if anything would happen to one of the disciples in Jerusalem, couldn’t Jesus just quickly heal them or if needed, bring them back from the dead? Jesus tells them in plain Hebrew that he will be betrayed, condemned to death, mocked, flogged and killed and on the third day rise from the dead…..and what is their response? If we put it in our terms for our modern day life, the two disciples ask for first class seats for life.
Why is it, by the way, that First Class passengers board the plane first? Sure it is great to get off the plane first, but is it so great to board the plane first? Shouldn’t First Class Passengers be the last ones on the plane and the first ones off the plane?
For me the idea is to spend the least amount of time of the plane as possible – the least amount of time in that stuffy cabin, the least amount of time in breathing in re-circulated air filled with who knows what bacteria or virus – less time sitting next to the guy who didn’t think he needed a shower to travel in a tightly packed plane.