September 13, 2016
17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 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!”
He took the Twelve aside. Would the third time be the charm? He had already done this twice before. Remember back just after Peter made his famous confession of Christ? That was the first time:
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21
Then there was the time after the Transfiguration when the disciples had regathered in Galilee.
When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. Matthew 17:22-23
He took the Twelve aside. Jesus is patient to take us aside and to keep taking us aside to remind us of the reality that there is a cross in our path. Something about our hearing has a way of tuning this out. It does not compute to us. We can sort of grasp this idea of the last being first and the servant being the greatest and so forth, but death is a deal breaker. We don’t want to hear it. So we don’t hear it. And Jesus takes us aside again. This bit about being raised on the third day is irrelevant to the person who can’t hear the message of the Cross.
Has he taken you aside? I know he’s still doing it in my life. Just when I think I’ve let go of myself and surrendered it all to him, he will show me there is more of myself to surrender. The fullness of life offered by Jesus requires the emptying of the life I somehow think I can build without him—all of it. In order to rise into my true self, I must disown my false self. It’s like an endless series of trust falls where the fall seems to last longer and longer and every time you wonder if he will catch you, and despite the fact that he catches you every time you still wonder.
Many will follow Jesus up to the place where the road forks to Jerusalem. We will gladly let him die for us, but it’s another thing entirely to permit ourselves to die with him—to become so identified with the Son of God that we let go of ourselves. I hardly understand what I am writing yet I know it is true.
Lord Jesus, thank you for taking your disciples aside. Thank you for your patience to keep doing so and to continue leading us to the Cross and on to the Resurrection. Open my eyes to all I keep holding on to and give me the grace to release my grip. Mostly, give me the grace to let go of myself. I know this is what it means to truly live yet I don’t know. I think you understand what I’m saying. In your name I pray. Amen.
1. Do you identify with this notion of coming up to the turning point where the road goes on to Jerusalem and stopping there?
2. Why do you think Jesus keeps on telling his disciples this same thing about what lies ahead?
3. What would it mean to loose my grip on myself?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. email@example.com.