Saturday, 24 July 2010

The way of the cross

Tomorrow, God-willing, I am resuming preaching from the gospel of Mark on Sunday mornings. (You can download some of the previous sermons here).

One of the repeating emphases in the gospel of Mark is teaching about the true nature of Jesus' kingdom. Jesus' kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world. Going the way of Jesus means going the way of the cross. Glory does not come now, but after taking up one's cross to die - again and again. The Master sets the great pattern; for our salvation, he shunned earthly glory and chose rejection, suffering and damnation at Calvary, before he rose again the third day.

In this setting, one of Mark's repeated refrains is to show us how little the disciples understood - even though it was spelt out in the clearest terms, again and again. The problem was not that Jesus' teaching was not plain enough; it was that it clashed with the road to glory that was in the disciples' hearts. And on this theme, Matthew Henry has some great words:
[Note] the confusion that the disciples were hereby put into. This [way of the cross] was so contrary to the notions they had had of the Messiah and his kingdom, such a balk to their expectations from their Master, and such a breaking of all their measures, that they understood none of these things, v. 34. Their prejudices were so strong that they would not understand them literally, and they could not understand them otherwise, so that they did not understand them at all.
What teachings are there that you or I don't understand - not because we can't understand them, but because we don't want to?

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