Do you believe in Jesus?
Dear Listeners, In the gospel according to Mark we also address this question. As we continue our journey through the gospel according to Mark, today we enter upon the 2nd part of Mark. In it we can observe some serious changes. The Lord Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem, and Jesus has told them about the things that are awaiting Him there. It didn’t sound too good! The message had been unsettling to the disciples and the other followers. Yet, though they’re worried about what’s coming, in the meantime the disciples don’t understand much of what’s going on at all, but they argue about the place, the status, they will have in His kingdom. And so we read in chapter 10:32, “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way…” Since chapter 8:27 they have been on their way to Jerusalem, from Caesarea Philippi via Capernaum, from Galilee to Judea, and they end up in Jericho (10:46). Yet, everyone who has followed Jesus (and we, who have journeyed with Him through Mark’s account) sense that things are becoming tensed: they’re heading for trouble, or so it seems, after the attacks by the leaders earlier! In this 2nd part of Mark the Lord Jesus becomes much more outspoken about the purpose of His life; that is also the purpose of His journey to Jerusalem. In chapter 8:31 it says, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”
In chapter 9:31 He repeats the same message, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” That sounds a lot different, doesn’t it, from the way He spoke at first and acted with power and majesty in all His words and works?! Then in 10: 33-34, He elaborates on it even more, showing how the leaders “will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” So Jesus announced His own death, which makes it understandable that His disciples became anxious and confused! They’d seen so many miracles and powerful wonders, in nature, in healings, and in Him raising some from death, showing the power of God, and now this? No wonder the people who hear this start to ask themselves, “Why does Jesus have to die? We thought He was going to establish the kingdom of God on earth? And is He now going to leave them in this terrible way?” They don’t seem to catch, however, the special note in the message about His resurrection! Whatever, though, they’re confused, because everything seems to turn out different from what they’d anticipated! They’re heading for trouble, that’s for sure! And why? The disciples were astonished, Mark writes, and His followers were afraid! They were confused in their faith! Was their faith good enough? That’s the question, and we recognize that question, when we’re confused when God is going a different way with our life than we anticipated! You see, dear listeners, then you have to see that Jesus went ahead of 2 them, Jesus leading the way. He doesn’t depend on how great the disciples’ faith is, for He knows He will have to lead the way and show them later on why it had to go this way. Jesus doesn’t depend on our faith or on our understanding of His way! Jesus was leading the way to make their faith stronger, to open their eyes for His way through suffering to glory! Jesus will be handed over to the Gentiles! God’s judgment will be poured out over Him!
That’s why He has to go to Jerusalem; that’s what He had come for! He had to suffer God’s wrath for us and in our place, because we had sinned, we had rebelled against God, and we had earned the judgment of God over our life! That’s why Jesus was leading the way, and He wanted His disciples to follow Him and eventually to accept this from Him! That’s what faith is all about! That’s why Jesus repeated this message every time. The first time He mentioned His death and resurrection, Peter strongly opposed Him, and Jesus rebuked him, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men!” That’s when Jesus explained to His disciples that not only He would have to suffer but that they too had to take up their cross and follow Him! After His 2nd announcement the disciples, in ignorance, started to argue about who would be the first in His kingdom. That’s when Jesus held up a child to them as an example of the humbleness His disciples should be showing if they wanted to be in His kingdom! After the 3rd announcement something similar happened and He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, the slave of all!” Then He added, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many!” So this is what faith is all about, dear listeners, and this is the attitude of faith Jesus was instilling in His disciples and in us! His disciples need to follow Him, take up their cross and suffer for His sake.
Jesus had been leading His disciples, not only on their way to Jerusalem but also on the way of salvation by faith in Him! That’s faith, when you look up to Him, follow Him; with hesitation, perhaps, or anxious, unsure about the outcome of it, or happy, excited, surprised and encouraged. That’s all possible very much; yet, that doesn’t determine whether your faith is good enough. Faith is good enough when you look to Him and trust in Him, and when you follow Him in your life, to live for Him! He determines everything in your life when you know Him, know that He leads you, and that He knows what is best for you and what you need through Him: a new life, a justified life, and a life that’s lived again for God, doing the will of our heavenly Father as Jesus did! Are you living that way, living for Jesus and anticipating His return, dear listener? Well, that will be our focal point next week! Stay tuned! Thank you for listening