And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. He was resolute in his mission. You can almost see the crowds pulsing behind him – amazed and afraid. If anything was going to happen, it would happen in Jerusalem. If he was going to become King, it would happen in Jerusalem. Yes. He would be King.
Jesus took the twelve aside and tried this third and final time to explain that he would not be crowned King in Jerusalem, but rather he would die. He tried to paint a vivid picture of his suffering… using words like “mock,” “spit,” “flog” and “kill.” But they remained spiritually blind.
James and John revealed their misunderstanding by choosing this moment to ask to sit at his right and left hand in “his glory.” The other disciples were “indignant.” They were filled with ambition and jealousy… The Spirit had not yet come. Their eyes remained closed.
But Jesus knew his time was short. He trusted that the Spirit would bring understanding…later. He endured their misunderstanding and pressed on with his teaching – the all-important teaching:
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).
He would become King – but not with the usual fanfare – only by enduring great suffering. His life was and is our ransom.
The disciples would not remain blind; the change would come. But only after his death and resurrection. Then the Spirit would come and they would understand the call to suffer, the call to sacrifice. Their eyes would be opened. Understanding would come. The Spirit would not fail.
Just like the disciples, we require the Spirit to understand and obey this hard teaching. Sacrifice does not come naturally, rather it is a slow, painful work of the Spirit that brings great reward. Ask the Spirit for understanding and the power to obey. The Spirit will not fail!