with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
We have been seeing that there are conditions laid down for discipleship. Jesus does not want half-hearted commitment. The rich young man we read about loved his money too much to be a devoted follower. The conditions still apply today. If Jesus is to be Lord of our lives it means that He must be first, He must be obeyed. Now we must not think of this as being all hard bondage, toiling under a divine frown. It is joy to follow Jesus. He said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30.) Today we learn more about journeying with Jesus.
Verses 24 & 25 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus said again, “Children how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
At first, we too may be amazed at these words. The important thing to note is that such people are trusting in their wealth. It means everything to them. If their focus is in the direction of money, they will have no time for God. Jesus reveals a sense of humour in the reference to the camel and the needle.
Verses 26 & 27 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
The disciples sound a bit dismayed as if there may be other cases of people who can not enter the kingdom. Just how serious is this danger? The Lord’s word reassured them and should reassure us too. Certain things, humanly speaking are impossible. But God is the God of the impossible.
Verses 28-31 Peter said to Him, “We have left everything to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the Gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Peter affirms the disciples’ commitment to Jesus, who then gives them a promise with very wide scope. He is saying that no matter what you may sacrifice to follow Him, it will not go without reward. In practice, it is not as though everything given up will be restored as it was before. It means that losses will be more than made up, perhaps in ways unexpected.
Note the warning that they can expect persecutions but the priceless gift of eternal life will also be theirs. The last statement may mean that there will be reversals and surprises. Those prominent in this life may not be in the next. Those little esteemed in this life may be glorified in the next.
Verse 32 “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again He took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to Him.
Jesus knew that this trip to Jerusalem was to be His last. It was already clear to the group that there were people in that city plotting to kill the Lord. There apparently was a strange feeling of foreboding that came over them as they walked. Note that Jesus was leading the way. Courageous, though He knew what was ahead. There were other followers often with Jesus who did not belong to the Twelve. They felt fear grip them. It had happened before, but Jesus tells them again what the future was to be in Jerusalem.
Verses 33 & 34 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” He said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They 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.”
There is nothing obscure about this message. Even the detail of the treatment He will receive is told plainly. In fact, the picture is dramatic and arresting, but it appears from what transpires that the Twelve did not have much understanding of it at all.
Verses 35-37 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him. “Teacher,” they said, ”We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked. They replied, ”Let one of us sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.”
It seems amazing that these disciples were thinking about their personal privileges when Christ had told them of His coming sufferings. Rather out of place. Perhaps they had argued about who would have the right hand seat which would seem an important position. Their request was more like a demand.
Verses 38-40 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.
The cup He refers to is a cup of suffering which He will drink. The baptism is suggestive of afflictions surrounding Him. He has a clear understanding of the depth of these experiences but John and James barely appreciate them. However, the Lord predicts their coming time of severe trial which will occur after Jesus departs. We read about it in the Book of Acts.
Whom the seats are prepared for only the Father knows.
Verses 41-45 When the ten heard about this they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The remainder of the Twelve were unhappy about what James and John did. We suspect that they thought they were just as worthy for these positions. But here is an important lesson for the disciples and for all who would follow Jesus. The Gentiles are non-Jews. Jesus points out how leaders are appointed to posts where they simply dominate those under their authority. But dominance is not the way in the body of believers. All leaders are to be servants. Jesus showed them this when He washed their feet. Even more powerfully He would show it by giving His life as a ransom price for many.
As this Gospel moves forward, we gain more and more of the heart of the Lord Jesus. We see what He expects of those who will come to Him. He promises them great blessings, but not without hard times on the way through. His heart is a heart of love and concern, unmatched in any other person. His life is holy and surely must attract our commitment to Him and our loyalty at all times. We can never stand to one side as if we are neutral. Let us give our allegiance to Him.
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