And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed…
I. THAT THE CROSS SHOULD HAVE BEEN AN OBJECT OF DESIRE AND OF INTENSE LONGING TO OUR SAVIOUR'S HEART IS A STATEMENT TOO REMARKABLE TO BE BARELY ASSERTED. Such a death was abhorred by all mankind. It was a death of ignominy, agony, and shame. Yet, contrary to the universal sentiment, Christ desired it. That the cross was a token of desire rather than fear will be seen by the way our Lord checked every hindrance or suggestion raised against it, and by His words and deportment as He approached it (Matthew 16:23). He desired the cross, and wanted to communicate that desire to others. On one occasion He reveals His desire in most remarkable language (Luke 12:50). When He entered the Samaritan village, we are told "His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:53). The text discloses the same zeal — "Behold we go up to Jerusalem"; a sentence which sounds the keynote of triumph. His eager gait betokened the onward desire of His soul.
II. WE WOULD CONSIDER THE REASONS FOR THIS DESIRE. The cross could not be in itself an object of desire. It was not like the joy set before Him at the Father's right hand; if desired at all, it must be because of its results. These were in two directions — one in relation to God, the other to man. The glory of God and the salvation of man were the ruling motives of Christ's conduct. We can all strive to be like Him in His inward life, though only martyrs are completely like Him in His outward life, His great motive was the glorifying of the Father (John 5:30). God was glorified on Calvary (John 17:1). The cross was the Divine way of repairing the honour of God, which had been outraged by sin. The heart of Jesus was consumed with this desire of a reparation which was in His power. We know what it is to burn with indignation, when one who is loved, is offended and unjustly injured; how then must the true perception of sin have kindled the flame of desire for the cross in the Man Christ Jesus. Also the cross was to be the means of glorifying God by manifesting the Divine character — harmonizing mercy and justice; it was to be the witness of love — removing such misconceptions of the Deity, as may have arisen from the misery of sin. Thus viewed in relation to God, the cross was to Christ an object of desire. His love for us made it an object of desire on the human side. The cross was necessary according to the predestination of God as a means for imparting life to others (John 12:24). Thus an object of desire; for to restore the creature must redound to the glory of the Creator.
III. THE GREATNESS OF THAT DESIRE. Its greatness lies in its intensity and purity — "Jesus went before them." It was not a mere impulse which prompted this onward movement, as the hero is carried forward in the excitement of battle. All impulse in Jesus was regulated by His calm mind and perfect will, therefore vehemency of action betokened the ardour of His soul. Moreover, our desires are in proportion to the strength of our inward faculties. Their intensity will depend upon the vigour of our wills and the reach of our minds. The mind must present the object sought. The perfection of Christ's mind will show the strength of His desires. He saw the cross with all its detail of suffering. He saw all the effects of the cross. He looked beyond it and traced all its powers; all the powers of grace and supernatural beauty which would result from the merit of His passion; He saw the saints enjoying countless ages of happiness in heaven. Hence the intensity of His desire for the cross.
2. This desire may be measured by the natural fear which it overpowered. As man, Christ feared death and suffering. Pure human nature shrinks from torture.
3. The greatness of this desire of Christ for the cross, consists in its purity, as well as intensity. With all the vehemency of our Saviour's zeal, there was calmness of spirit and an obedient will. The purity of desire lies also in the nature of the cross He had to bear, of shame and desolation. The hiding of the Father's face separates His cross from that of the martyr. It was comfortless suffering. The cross, too, was a punishment viewed with contempt. Some desire to suffer great things, because their greatness brings renown. Pride will support much bodily mortification; the cross had at that time only the aspect of humiliation. Christ took His disciples aside that He might impart to them His desire. He wanted to cast out of that fountain of fire which glowed within His own soul some sparks which might inflame them also — "Behold we go up." He suffers not only instead of us, but also to purchase for us power and grace to suffer with Him and for Him. He has not removed the necessity of suffering by His suffering, any more than He has removed the necessity of temptation by His being tempted. The same cross whereby we are redeemed promulgates, as the condition of emancipation, the law of mortification. The desire of the cross Christ communicates to His members. St. Paul prays "that I may know Him, and the fellowship of His sufferings." It must begin with the mortification of our lower nature (Galatians 5:24). It is a high pitch of nature to desire to suffer as a means of closer union with our Lord; we must first learn to bear crosses without murmuring; then to accept them with resignation; and, lastly, to meet them with desire and joy.
(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,
WEB: They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus was going in front of them, and they were amazed; and those who followed were afraid. He again took the twelve, and began to tell them the things that were going to happen to him.