“They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again, He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him.” [NASB]
In Mark 10:32, it confused the disciples after Jesus taught the rich man how to get into the kingdom of heaven. They still believed obedience to God’s commands and statutes, as given to the Israelites through Moses, gave them eternal life. Jesus had said to them in chapter ten after the rich man went away, “Only God can save a person and give them eternal life.” He also told the disciples they would have to leave the people they love and follow Him. For this, anyone who followed Jesus would receive rewards to replace everything they gave up, and would be mistreated-persecuted.
With verse 32, we read of the disciples’ confusion, and the other followers’ fear. Was this confusion and fear because of not wanting to leave loved ones and possessions? Was it because Jesus said those who follow Him would experience persecution? It could be one or the other, or both. If someone has been a follower of Christ for long, both likely has occurred. Generally leaving the people and things you love is one of the first stages of following Jesus. The disciples, or at least most, had already given up family and loved ones to be Jesus’ disciples. In this passage, they faced the idea of being persecuted. The other followers who Mark said experienced fear probably feared both things. They had not yet processed what following Jesus would cost them.
For any follower of Jesus in any age since the time Jesus lived and taught on earth, these have been the costs of discipleship-leaving loved ones and possessions and being willing to suffer persecution for Christ. For the confused disciples, they did not understand why Jesus led them to Jerusalem where they knew the religious leaders hated Him. Jesus and the disciples knew those leaders would persecute Him. Still, He led the disciples and other followers to the place of His persecution. For the other followers who feared, Jesus told them they had to leave the people and things they loved to be saved (to follow Him). He taught that salvation would not come by offering animal sacrifices as Moses taught them in the Old Testament.
Though each step of following Jesus is hard, once it’s done, it becomes easier. After that you move to the next things in your life you must give to the Lord to dedicate for His purposes. Sometimes you revisit earlier lessons such as leaving family behind as they age. To my mind, the hardest thing would be to suffer personally in body and mind for the advance of the gospel. Each of these costs help the person grow toward Christlikeness and grow relationally with God. Growing in this way is a step by step, day by day process, one thing gradually after another. Though it may seem a person is constantly under stress or duress (both of which can be part of the believer’s growing process), the person is never alone and doesn’t have to go through the trials/battles in his or her own strength. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:5-11,
For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness.’ Is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so tat the eternal life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. [NASB]
Paul spoke of persecutions of every kind in this passage. He said God’s greatness surpasses any persecution. Though believers go through affliction, distressing and perplexing situations, bodily harm, and defamation, these persecutions will not cause the person to be crushed, lose hope, experience forsakenness, and destruction. Why? Jesus delivers believers from death to eternal life. He is victorious over all things. Nothing can separate God from His children. Jesus already defeated death. These instances of persecution might cause a person to grow weary, dim his or her mental state, or die, they ultimately cannot defeat what God has already accomplished – victory over sin and death.
This thought is what Jesus wanted the disciples and His followers to understand. For this reason, Jesus continued to teach and lead them toward Jerusalem and cause them to grow though confused and afraid. In Jerusalem, Jesus would take his last earthly stand and utterly defeat sin and death. The disciples and His other followers needed to see and experience it. They needed to grow in their faith so they, too, could stand firm knowing Jesus Christ paid everything necessary to defeat sin and death forever. Since God was for them, who could be against them. Nothing that could come, and did come, against them would separate them from Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate Victor. Looking to Christ and His victory would bolster their faith/trust in Him and give them hope onto which to hold during their persecutions. Jesus did not want His followers to be troubled when facing persecutions, but willingly and with hope go through them. He told them when they face difficult times and remember Him, holding on with hope with the strength of the Holy Spirit, they would have His peace. His peace is not like the world’s. Read what Jesus said about His peace as recorded in John 14:1 & 27.
Today you might feel you are at the end of your rope. You might wonder why God is allowing you to go through your current circumstances. He allows them so you can grow in likeness to Jesus and in relationship with Him. He doesn’t leave you to fight the battle yourself. God provides the Holy Spirit to strengthen you, calm you, give you the peace of Christ, remind you Jesus is the eternal Victor, and give you hope. You can have hope, endurance, strength, and victory. Ask for the Spirit to give what you need then step out in boldness with the strength He gives you, and with hope and trust in God. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
How can you be a follower of Jesus and have this peace, victory, and eternal life with God? Call to Him with your whole heart. He promises to hear you. By faith believe in Jesus as your Savior. Confess your wrongdoings to God. He will forgive you. God will save you from judgment. Once you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, He will walk with you through your difficult times. By doing this you will overcome, grow, and be useful for God’s purposes.
Lord, God, I am weak. I am going through a great difficulty right now and I think I am going to drown in it. Please help me trust You to walk with me through it. Help me to believe and call to You for strength to endure and grow from this trial by. Remind me You have secured the victory over everything and I need not worry if I ask You to walk with me. Help me to rest in Your peace and the hope You give. Help me to trust You enough to give my dilemma to You and rest in Your hands knowing You know how to win this battle. Let me grow from this so I become more like You. Thank you for loving, strengthening, and helping me every day. Amen.