Summary: Often our spiritual vision is hindered by the desires of the flesh. We seek to serve the Lord, but often find a struggle with the flesh.
Looking toward Calvary
Mark 8: 31-33
At this point in Jesus’ ministry His popularity has diminished greatly, particularly among the devout Jews. He is about to enter a season of intense difficulty, culminating with the cross. From this moment forward, Jesus will be intent on enabling the disciples to continue in His absence and preparing for the cross.
It is interesting that this passage immediately follows Peter great confession of faith in Christ. He was the most outspoken of the disciples, never at a loss for words. I am convinced many of us are much like Peter; we tend to speak before we take time to think. While this conversation was not limited to Jesus and Peter, they are the two primary characters. The last recorded word we have from Peter was wonderful and compelling. In our text today things are much different. Peter spoke from a heart in tune with Christ previously, and today we find him speaking from a heart motivated by the flesh.
As we consider the aspects of their conversation, I want to discuss the thought: Looking toward Calvary. Hopefully the conversation between Jesus and Peter will enhance our faith and deepen our devotion to our Lord. Consider:
I. The Revelation of Jesus (31) – And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. As Jesus spoke with the disciples He offered a prophetic word about future events that must come to pass. No doubt this revealing word caught the disciples by surprise. Notice:
A. The Importance (31a) – And he began to teach them. It is interesting that Mark says that Jesus began to teach them. These men had been with Jesus for close to three years now. Clearly this does not imply that Jesus had waited until this moment to prepare His disciples. It is recorded for our benefit though, and reveals a significant truth. He began to share truth with His men that He had previously avoided discussing. There had no doubt been reference to the cross, but as we stated this marks a defining moment in Jesus’ ministry. He is beginning in earnest to prepare the disciples for future events. It seems apparent that they were not ready to receive this truth until now. As Jesus perceived their maturity, He began to teach them of things yet to come. Obviously this was contrary to what they previously hoped and believed.
Our walk with the Lord is a growing process. As we walk in fellowship with Christ, abiding in Him and the Word, we mature in the faith. As we grow and mature, the Spirit reveals deeper truth. Often this truth may be contrary to what we have been taught or previously believed, but it is true nonetheless. I am thankful the Lord reveals truth and seeks to mature our faith through a deeper understanding of the Word.
B. The Implications (31) – And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. As Jesus began to reveal previously unknown truth to the disciples, He offered great detail about events that must come to pass. Jesus spoke of:
1. His Rejection – And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes. No doubt the disciples were familiar with the continued opposition Jesus faced by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, but here He spoke of increased suffering. These sought to hinder His ministry and minimize His influence, but this rejection and opposition would significantly increase as they neared the end of His ministry. While they had to admit Jesus was not an ordinary man, they stopped short of recognizing His deity or embracing Him as the Christ. The suffering would increase in intensity from here on out.
Such rejection continues today. Jesus is the dividing line among the world. We know He is the sole means of salvation and reconciliation to God. The world refuses to embrace Jesus as the Redeemer and Savior of the world. They know if they are forced to submit to His authority and depend upon Him for salvation, they will then have to admit their own depravity, inability to secure their salvation, and trust Him by faith. This flies in the face of our fleshly nature, man’s arrogance, and the humanistic view promoted by many.
2. His Crucifixion – And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed. The disciples likely were handling the conversation pretty well up until this point. They had dealt with continued opposition, but now the conversation had taken a very serious tone. Jesus declared that He would not only suffer many things at the hands of evil men, but that He would also die at their hands. I can imagine the response of the disciples. No doubt they recoiled at such a statement. Likely they initially questioned whether they had heard Jesus correctly, thinking – did He just say that He would die? This flew in the face of their plans. They were not expecting His death; they were anticipating His triumphant reign as King of Jerusalem. As difficult as it was for them to receive, Jesus wanted to prepare them for His coming crucifixion upon the cross.