Although Jesus spoke very clearly about His impending death and resurrection, His disciples struggled to understand because Christ’s words were incompatible with their preconceived notions of the Messiah. Instead, their focus was marked by rivalry and selfish ambition. Alistair Begg teaches us that it is not our accomplishments that earn us salvation, but the sacrifice of Jesus, and it is not for our own glory, but for His.
32And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”
35And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,4 44and whoever would be first among you must be slave5 of all. 45For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In the final weeks of His life, Jesus set out for Jerusalem. Along the way, He began His most explicit teaching on the purpose of His ministry: to die on a cross and rise from the dead. The disciples could not comprehend the significance of His teaching because their concept of the Messiah did not include one who would die in shame, but a warrior who would lead them to triumph and glory. Jesus was focused on His pending suffering, death, and resurrection, but the disciples focused on their own importance. They just didn’t get it!
As Alistair Begg explains, we are more like the disciples than we care to admit. Many professing Christians trivialize the Gospel message by denying the reality of persecution, suffering, and eternal reward. Like the disciples, our pride often hinders our ability to understand the truth. Jesus makes it clear that to follow Him demands a radical shift in our thinking. His disciples just didn’t get it. Do we?
An Ill-Conceived Rebuke
An Ill-Advised Argument
An Ill-Timed Request
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