How Great A Love
Dr. Stephen Johnson
Mark 10:32-45
June 14, 2020

Please note that these are the sermon notes and not a transcription of the actual preached message.

Have you ever had the feeling that you were not “getting through” to someone you were trying to explain something to? You simply had a hard time getting an idea through somebody’s “thick skull” – which is just another way of saying that someone is “hard-headed”. Or, perhaps you became frustrated with yourself and exclaimed, “I just can’t seem to get it through my ‘thick skull’.”

Teaching is hard. It is especially hard when you are teaching people who really don’t want to learn.

People who have their minds made up and don’t want to be confused with the facts.

I suppose we shouldn’t feel too bad when we have difficulty getting through to some people. Jesus experienced the same thing!

Our text marks the third time in three chapters that Mark has recorded Jesus telling the disciples in vivid, pointed language exactly what was going to happen to him once they reach Jerusalem. But the disciples just don’t get it.

It began in 8:31 where Jesus “began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark goes on to tell us that Jesus said it plainly.

The result of Jesus speaking plainly is often more remembered than the fact that he spoke plainly.

For the verses immediately after Jesus plainly told his disciples what was in store for him was the confrontation with Peter which resulted in Jesus saying “Get behind me Satan!”

The second time Jesus foretold his death and resurrection comes in Mark 9:30 Mark tells us that they were passing through Galilee and that Jesus did not want to be interrupted since he was teaching the disciples.

What he taught was this: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”

Still the message doesn’t sink in. Mark says “They did not understand the saying and were afraid to ask Him.”

Imagine walking with the greatest teacher in the world and being afraid to ask for clarification.
Maybe the disciples didn’t want to appear dumb.

You know, people might look at you askance if you ask a stupid question.

Perhaps the disciples adhered to variation of
Proverbs 17:28 which says:

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

Or in a more modern twist - it is better to be thought a fool and be silent than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Unfortunately for the disciples, Mark clarifies that their silence is indeed due to not understanding.

So rather than ask Jesus what he meant, they instead enter an argument about who is the greatest.

So Jesus brings up the topic a third time.

Now this is just a side note for us. Kind of a bonus point which can transform your relationships.

If your spouse, your friend, your doctor - anyone you are close to brings something up three times you probably ought to investigate the issue with them more completely.

But anyway, in our text for today, after Jesus teaching on the impossibility of doing anything to gain entrance to heaven, it being a gift of God and all.

The disciples are back on the road and Jesus brings up the topic again.

Look at Mark 10:32-35

And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him,

saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.

And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

This is the word of God.

This time it is as though the disciples aren’t even listening to Jesus.

There is no follow-up.
Instead James and John come up Jesus and ask Jesus to do whatever they ask of him.

Think of the audacity of that!
Jesus has just, for the third time opened his heart to the disciples.
And they totally ignore him

Three observations.
1. Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem

It is only in this third lesson that Mark tells us his destination is Jerusalem.

They were going up to Jerusalem.

Mark 10:46 tells us that along the way they passed through Jericho.

It is only about 18 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem, but in that distance the elevation changes from about 800 feet below sea level to about 3000 feet above sea level.

They were indeed going up to Jerusalem. This event takes place on the cusp of Palm Sunday - it is in Mark 11 that we read of Jesus entering Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna in the highest.

His determination to go to Jerusalem is not merely to celebrate the Passover along with other faithful Jews.

His determination to go was based on the task he had to do once he arrived there.

There was no turning back. There was no hesitancy on his part.

The second observation we make from this text is that

2. Jesus knew what he was doing.

His lessons on what would happen to him in Jerusalem are progressive.

The first two lessons are basically the same.

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”

It is interesting that Jesus refers to himself in the third person - as the Son of Man.

But this isn’t a new thing for him. Throughout the gospel of Mark he has used the term in reference to himself.

It started in Mark 2 where Jesus healed the paralytic who was dropped down through a hole in the roof.

You will remember that when Jesus spoke to the man, rather than immediately healing him, Jesus said “Your sins are forgiven.”

This of course caused no little stir among the theologians present - who asked, who can forgive sins but God alone. And Christ responded with this statement:
Mark 2:9-11
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”

Could anyone present have missed the fact that Jesus was calling himself the Son of Man?

Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man again at the end of Mark 2.

Then in Mark 8, both in his first lesson concerning his death and resurrection and in his teaching on denying yourself and following him Jesus again identifies himself as the Son of Man.

Having again identified himself as the Son of Man, Jesus then goes on to tell the disciples in great detail what will happen to him once they get to Jerusalem.

He identifies 6 different details which await him.

He knew exactly what was going to happen to him.

Make no bones about it, he knew what he was doing.

He would be delivered to the chief priest and the scribes.
If you look ahead to Mark 14:53 you read that “they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.”

He said he would be sentenced to death.
And Mark 14:64 tells us that they all condemned him as deserving death.

He then said he would be delivered into the hands of the Romans - which happens in Mark 15:1

He told the disciples he would be mocked, spit upon and flogged.
They spit on him in Mark 14:65, and 15:19
They flogged him in Mark 15:15
They mocked him in Mark 15:20

Jesus told his disciples that he would be executed.
And the crucifixion is recorded in Mark 15:20-39

But then Jesus also said something else.
Something which has given mankind hope for 2000 years.
He said that he would rise on the third day.
And we celebrate it at Easter!

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing when he set his face towards Jerusalem!

And he went anyway.

Now, there is one other thing we see in this text.

3. The disciples didn’t understand it.

When Jesus lead the way, we are told those around him were amazed and afraid

Why were they so amazed?
Why were the people in the crowd afraid?

They must have known that there were loads of people traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

Mark tells us of the emotions of the crowd before Jesus gives his detailed description of what awaits him.

Perhaps some of them had sensed that something significant was about to happen.

Maybe some of them had heard about Jesus talking to the disciples concerning his upcoming trials.

And if they did then the actions of Jesus make no sense.

Who would do what Jesus was doing?
Why would he do what he was doing?

Since few of them had ever seen someone resurrected from the dead the idea that someone would predict his own resurrection was most certainly outside their comprehension.

Looking at it from this side of the resurrection, we see that the disciples were at best confused.

They simply didn’t understand the significance of what Jesus was teaching.

We know that because twice when Jesus brought up this topic the disciples just went on their merry way and got into arguments about greatness.

The first time Jesus brought it up, in Mark 8, Peter tried unsuccessfully to challenge the idea.

So it appears the disciples just let the topic drop.

They didn’t understand what Jesus was doing.
They didn’t understand what he was saying.
And even if they did, they simply didn’t like what he was saying.

So they just ignore it.

And it strikes me that we are just like the disciples.
We often don’t understand what Jesus is doing.
We often don’t like what Jesus is saying.

So we just ignore it.

God has laid out in scripture all sorts of truths which we don’t like and would rather ignore.

I guess when I see the response of the disciples that is what strikes me the most.

When first confronted with the truth they argue against it. And then they just ignore it.

And that is so much like us.

I don’t know what truths of scripture God keeps bringing to your mind.
I don’t know how or why you have chosen to ignore the promoting of the Holy Spirit.

But I know you are human - at least most of you.

And because you are human you are not that different from the disciples.

There are some topics which you just ignore.
But Jesus wants to get through to you.

So I want to propose two responses to this text.

1. That you reflect upon the things God is seeking to teach you, and then you stop ignoring them.

If you don’t really understand them, don’t allow yourself to be distracted, but study His word until you understand His expectations of you.

2. Reflect upon the willingness of Jesus to go to Jerusalem and all that means.

When he determined to go to Jerusalem he did out of obedience to God the Father and love for you.

He knew exactly what he was doing.
He knew exactly was he was going to face once he got to Jerusalem.
And he did it anyway.

He knew that when he took his disciples apart to tell them what lay ahead that it would result in his agonizing death.

And he knew that the one thing that made it worth it all was the power of the resurrection in victory over death.

His love for us was go great that he willingly went up to Jerusalem.

I believe God would have us be amazed at his great love for us.

That he would have us recognize the message of scripture that while we were still trapped in sin, Christ died for us.

How great the father’s love for us.
How great our saviors love for us.

How great the debt we owe to the one who willingly went to Jerusalem to face the rejection, the flogging, to be spit upon, to be mocked and nailed to a cross.

And how great our rejoicing that at the end of his suffering came victory over death - the resurrection.

The resurrection which gives us hope for our future.

We long for that great and coming day when Jesus will return.
When in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye
We see him.

Even so Lord Jesus quickly come!