Promise of Suffering
After promising the disciples places of honor in His kingdom, Jesus took them and began His journey to Jerusalem. On the way He shared with them what was about to take place.
Jesus said, “…the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
And then the mother of Zebedee’s sons, James and John, came to Jesus and asked Him to grant her sons favor in His sight. That one of them might sit at His right and the other at His left. Jesus answered her question by pointing out that she knew nothing of what she was asking.
Then He turned to the sons and asked, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” and they answered, “We can.”
You see, the disciples missed what Jesus was saying. They mistakenly thought that Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem would mean the inauguration of His earthly reign. And, as His followers, they would be given positions of greatness.
But this was not the way it was to be.
Jesus did indeed promise that both of these men would taste His cup of suffering. That promise was fulfilled as James was later martyred (Acts 12:1-2) and John was exiled in his old age to the island of Patmos where he spent his last days (Rev.1:9).
But as for the places of honor, those were not His to give. Jesus said in Matthew 20:23 that those were for the Father alone to give.
When the other 10 disciples heard this, they became indignant and began to argue amongst themselves. Jesus called them together and began again to lovingly and patiently teach them that His ways were not the ways of the world.
In order to follow Jesus one would not be lifted up but, rather, laid low.
Jesus said whoever seeks to be great must learn to serve others. Whoever wants to be first must learn to put others before himself, even if that means being last. And then Jesus led by example and said to them, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
So should those who follow Him, teaching us that:
Those who belong to God must grow in sacrificial living.
Jesus Christ came that He might give His life for us. He who committed no sin, would be the sin offering for us. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and to serve others. His service took Him straight to the cross where He died a horrific death that you and I might live.
And as his servants, we too have been called to lay down our rights, and become His bondservants. Free from sin yet obligated to suffer for His glory and honor and praise!
What is it that God is asking you to lay down in order that you might follow Him more fully? Are you refusing or delaying God’s call for you?
Some of you have left plenty and are currently suffering for the kingdom of God. You are suffering the misunderstanding of your family members who can’t understand why you would give so much of your time to Bible study. Why you would stop living the way you used to. And on and on it goes.
What they don’t understand is that the more we let go–the more we give–the more we receive. We see more blessing as a result of following Christ and there is nothing in this world that can satisfy our souls more than a personal relationship with our Creator God.
There is nothing we would rather be doing than serving in His kingdom!
Like Paul, might we agree with the words of Philippians 3:7-12:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.