Mark 10:32
As they were going up the road to Jerusalem, Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, but those who followed were afraid. Again Jesus took the Twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him:
A Third Prediction by Our Lord of His Passion and ResurrectionJ.J. Given Mark 10:32-34
As They Followed, They Were AfraidR. Bickersteth.Mark 10:32-34
Christ on the Road to the CrossA. Maclaren, D. D.Mark 10:32-34
Christ's Life Founded on a PlanF. Wagstaff.Mark 10:32-34
Following and FearingW. M. Statham.Mark 10:32-34
Following Jesus FearinglyJ. Vaughan, M. A.Mark 10:32-34
The Coincidence of OppositesE. Johnson Mark 10:32-34
The Cross, the Object of DesireW. H. Hutchings, M. A.Mark 10:32-34
The Saviour's Alacrity to Reach the End of His CourseR. Bickersteth.Mark 10:32-34

Once more the forecast of shame and death.

I. MEN FLY IN THE FACE OF THEIR INTEREST, AND TREAT THEIR BENEFACTORS AS ENEMIES. Christ foresaw that the ruling party would be angry with him "because he told them the truth." And we partake of this guilt. We are blind to love in its disguise. We hate that which reproaches us. It is an error of the understanding and of the heart.

II. PROVIDENCE BRINGS GOOD OUT OF OUR EVIL, AND FURTHERS OUR SALVATION IN SPITE OF OURSELVES. So limited is the power of passion, it gains but a momentary end. The patriot or the traitor falls by the hand of the assassin or the judicial murderer; and his principle takes the deeper root, watered by his blood. Christ's resurrection is the eternal type of all moral victories. - J.

And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem.
Full of calm resolve Christ comes forth to die. Behold the little company on the steep rocky mountain road that leads up from Jericho to Jerusalem; our Lord far in advance of His followers, with a fixed purpose stamped upon His face, and something of haste in His stride, and that in His whole demeanour which shed a strange astonishment and awe ever the group of silent and uncomprehending disciples.

I. WE HAVE HERE WHAT, FOR WANT OF A BETTER NAME, I WOULD CALL THE HEROIC CHRIST. The Ideal Man unites in Himself what men are in the habit, somewhat superciliously, of calling the masculine virtues, as well as those which they somewhat contemptuously designate the feminine. He reads to us the lesson, that we must resist and persist, whatever stands between us and our goal. The most tenacious steel is the most flexible, and he who has the most fixed and definite resolve may be the one whose heart is most open to all human sympathies, and is strong with the almightiness of gentleness.

II. THE SELF-SACRIFICING CHRIST. Hastening to His cross; surrendering Himself to death. His self-sacrifice was not the flinging away of the life which He ought to have preserved, nor carelessness, nor the fanaticism of a martyr, nor the enthusiasm of a hero and champion; but the voluntary death of Him who of His own will became in His death the oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.

III. THE SHRINKING CHRIST. May not part of the reason for His haste have been that instinct which we all have, when some inevitable grief or pain lies before us, to get it over soon, and to abbreviate the moments that lie between us and it? (See Luke 12:50; John 13:27.)In Christ this natural instinct never became a desire or purpose. It had so much power over Him as to make Him march a little faster to the cross, but it never made Him turn from it.

IV. THE LONELY CHRIST. Unappreciated aims; unshared purposes; misunderstood sorrow; solitude of death — all this He bore, that no human soul, living or dying, might ever be lonely any more.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A lowly band of travellers journeying towards Jerusalem. Already they are within sight of the hills that encompass the capital. One of the company out. strips the rest. His countenance is lit up with joyous expression, like that which glows on the face of one who, after long absence, is again drawing near to his father's house. It is Christ; and He is going up to Jerusalem to expiate a world's guilt by the sacrifice of Himself. Sorrows such as have never yet filled the breast of man await Him there; and least of all is it ignorance of what is before Him, which makes Him in haste to press forward. What was it that prompted Him to such eagerness? He designed to teach by action(1) a doctrine for His disciples to learn, viz., the necessity of His suffering, and suffering alone. In the work on which He was now entering, no man could be associated with Him. He must go before.(2) An example for them to follow. If He goes first, they come next. By His alacrity He would teach them how noble a thing it is to suffer in a good cause. They would think of this afterwards, and take courage. They would recollect the insignificance of all their sufferings as contrasted with His; and as they remembered this, the thought how bravely the Saviour went forward in the path of tribulation would nerve them to endurance, and make them almost impervious to fear. Arm yourselves with the like mind, and blush at the very thought of cowardice or retreat when summoned to suffer for the Redeemer's sake, remembering how eagerly He "went before."

(R. Bickersteth.)

There was no uncertainty or experiment about that life; every detail was foreseen from the beginning. Every man's life may be planned by Divine wisdom, but the man himself is ignorant of his own course, unable to foresee the next hour.

2. That Jesus Christ knew all the developments of His plan of life. The sorrow of the first day, the sleep of the second, the triumph of the third, were all before Him, as conditions of His daily labour.

3. That though He knew the result, He patiently fulfilled the whole process. There was no precipitancy; there was no fretfulness; every case of need was attended to as though it were the only case in the world. The Christian knows that heaven will be his portion at last; let him be stimulated to constant activity, as though human want demanded his whole attention.

4. That Jews and Gentiles were alike engaged in carrying on a work which was for the highest benefit of the whole world. How unconsciously we work! We may be pulling down in the very act of setting up.

5. That the assured triumph of the right is a source of strength to the good man. Jesus Christ spoke not of the crucifixion, but of "the third day." The picture was not all gloomy. Light broke through the very centre of the darkness. How hopeless, but for "the third day," is the lot of suffering men. The third day may suggest

(a)the brevity of bad influence;

(b)the impossibility of destroying that which is good, and

(c)the transference of power from a temporary despotism to an eternal and beneficent sovereignty. Brief and frail is the tenure of all malign powers.

(F. Wagstaff.)

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.)

As they followed they were afraid.
See the union of two apparently contradictory things. The fear was not enough to stop the following, nor the following sufficient to arrest the fear. That walk up to Jerusalem illustrative of the path to heaven. You follow Christ, you love Him too much not to follow Him. But your religion is an amazement; it creates fear. Certainly, if you were not a follower, you would not be a fearer. I never knew anyone begin to fear till God had begun to love him, and he had begun to love God. The fear is an index that you are on the road. Fear! ought we not to be beyond it; ought not to be the motive. How is it that a real follower may be a real fearer?

I. THEY HAD NOT ADEQUATE IDEAS OF HIM WHOM THEY FOLLOWED. They did not know what exceeding care He takes of His own. If you knew the character and work of Christ you would get rid of fear.

II. THOUGH THE DISCIPLES LOVED CHRIST, THEY DID NOT LOVE HIM AS HE DESERVED. If they had, the love would have absorbed the fear; they would have rejoiced to die with Him.

III. They had not, what the Master had, one great, FIXED, SUSTAINING AIM. This will lift above the petty shafts of little disturbances; above yourself.

IV. THE DISCIPLES HAD THEIR FEARS UNDEFINED. It was the indefinite which terrified them. Take these four rules.

1. You that follow and are afraid, fortify yourself in the thought of what Christ is — His Person, work, covenant; and what He is to you.

2. Love Him very much, and realize your union with Him.

3. Set a high mark, and carry your life in your hand, so you may reach that mark, and do something for God.

4. Often stop and say deliberately to yourself, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul." Many increase their fears by thinking so much about them. The onward going will gradually overcome the inward fear.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Experience ought to teach us that our fears are seldom fulfilled.

I. "As they followed"; THEN EVEN THE GLORIOUS ARMY OF MARTYRS WERE AFRAID. For "they" includes St. Peter. Fears disheartened them. Never let us think that the greatest souls are heroic right through, ever and always. The battle with the flesh was keen in them. Besides, some fears have their moral uses. It is well to be afraid of ourselves, if our dependence on Christ is strengthened. Then, what courage may not fear afterwards merge into!

II. "As they followed": THEN FEAR DID NOT HINDER THEIR PROGRESS. If there was fear in their hearts, there was fidelity in their steps.

III. "As they followed"; THEN WE NEED NOT DOUBT OUR DISCIPLESHIP BECAUSE WE ARE AFRAID. It is indifference that is to be dreaded, and presumptuous self-confidence. Forgiveness is needed for others, not for them.

IV. "As they followed": THEN THE DEPARTURE OF SOME FEARS DOES NOT DO AWAY WITH THEM ALL, They did not fear poverty, they had left all to follow Christ; they did not fear change in Jesus, they found His word of promise sure. We shall never lose all fears here; this discipline is wise for us.

V. "As they followed"; THEN LET NONE TURN BACK. Even when the intellectual beliefs are burdened with difficulty, never be afraid. Follow on. Be faithful unto death.

(W. M. Statham.)

The disciples' conduct. Up to the very period of Christ's death and resurrection, the disciples looked forward to His manifestation as a prince who should release their nation from bondage, and advance it to an hitherto unattained height of glory and dominion. All along they had been staggered at the meanness of their Master's outward appearance; and now they were amazed to find that the expected Deliverer of mankind was on His way to suffering. They could not understand it. They were amazed, too, at His readiness to suffer. He was advancing to the cross, like a victor to his crown. We must note here that(1) they followed. This is to their praise. They knew He was going on to death, yet they did not desert Him. They had true faith. But it was also weak faith, for(2) they were afraid. Strange, that while with Him they should fear. They thus missed much of the comfort they might have derived from His companionship. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are instances of the same — a true but weak faith — a faith which does not fill its possessor with peace. Let us not rest in a timorous faith. Let us be valiant for the truth. We have not the same excuse for fear that they had. They had not then experienced the Resurrection, the Ascension, the gift of the Comforter. When once the Spirit was given, they no longer knew fear. Shame on us, if with all our superior knowledge and privilege, we cast not aside the fear of man, and follow Jesus, with diligence to do, and with readiness to suffer, whatever He is pleased to prescribe or appoint.

(R. Bickersteth.)

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