Quick Reminder: Over the next several months, I will be blogging about this:
- God is MAJESTIC
- God is MESSIAH
- God wants to be MASTER
- God wants us to live on MISSION
I have spent the last several weeks blogging about how “God is MAJESTIC” and how “God is MESSIAH”. In my most recent blog, we looked at what Colossians 1 teaches us about MESSIAH God. In this post, we will begin blogging about how God wants to be MASTER, and we will use Mark 8-10 to do so.
Since God is MAJESTIC and MESSIAH, we are compelled to declare Him to be MASTER. That’s what happened in Isaiah 6. The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, saw the MAJESTY of God, saw how He was MESSIAH, and Isaiah declared God to be MASTER. Here is what Isaiah 6:8 says:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah says, “Here am I, Send me.” He is really declaring this: God, You are my MASTER! I will do what you tell me to do, and I will go where you tell me to go.
Most followers of Jesus like this in theory, but we struggle with it in practice.
If we are all honest we come to Jesus with expectations. It’s almost like we say, “You are MASTER, and now that I have declared that, you need to do xyz for my life.”
For me what that looked like was this. Jesus, You are my MASTER. Therefore, you will now bless me with financial success and ministry success and a great marriage and healthy kids, etc.
I learned very quickly that it doesn’t work that way. If there is good news, it is that I was in good company with my poor understanding of following Jesus. Apparently, the original 12 disciples thought very similarly to me.
Let’s look at 3 passages in the book of Mark.
Mark 8:31-35 says:
And He 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. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Mark 9:31-35 says:
For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him. They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 10:32-45 says:
They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again, He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
In these passages, there is a common theme. Let’s look at the one in Mark 8 first. Jesus says that He is going to suffer and die and be raised from the dead. I don’t think Peter heard that last part. I think he just focused on suffer and die. He told the Lord that wasn’t going to happen. Jesus rebuked him for it, and told him his eyes were on the things of man.
Jesus continued and said that to live you must die and to win you must lose. This didn’t make sense to Peter, and it doesn’t make sense to us.
Now, let’s look at Mark 9. In this passage, Jesus says He is going to suffer and die and be raised from the dead. Again, I don’t think the disciples heard that last part. Their focus was on suffer and die. The text says they were afraid to ask him about it, and their fear led them to immediately start arguing about who is the greatest.
Before we jump on them, let’s remember that we do the same thing. Most people, men especially, mask their fear and insecurity with pride and arrogance. Jesus hits our fear and their fear head on. How? He confronts the pride and arrogance, and he says if you want to be first, then you must be last. If you want to be great, then you must be less than so to speak.
Just like in Mark 8, this also makes no sense to the disciples, and it makes no sense to us. If Mark 8 and 9 didn’t make sense to us, then the passage in Mark 10 won’t either.
For a minute, you will have to think like a first century Jewish young man. They are under Roman rule. They are waiting for Messiah to come and rescue them. The 12 disciples believed Jesus to be this Messiah who would overthrow Rome. When James and John asked Jesus to sit on His right and left when He came into His Glory, I think they are referring to the earthly kingdom they thought He was going to set up when He overthrew Rome.
The only thing was that Jesus wasn’t going to overthrow Rome. His Kingdom is much greater than an earthly kingdom. In His kingdom, the ones who lead are the ones who serve.
The disciples had expectations of Jesus, and so do we. Jesus, who is God, crushed those expectations, and He does the same for us. Too often we don’t have a compartment for that. God basically says this:
I am MAJESTIC. I am MESSIAH. I want to be your MASTER. If I am MASTER it looks like this-
- To live you must die
- To win you must lose
- To be first you must be last
- To lead you must serve
In my life personally, like the disciples, it took me a long time to wrap my arms around this, and truthfully, I am still learning. But here is what I know. I must have the mindset that He is MASTER every day. If He is MASTER, then I die to myself and whatever expectations I have for life and God.
Jesus died and rose again. When I came to faith in Jesus, I died to myself, and God resurrected me spiritually. Every day I must die to my expectations of God. Sometimes He resurrects them and gives me exactly what I want. Sometimes He doesn’t. Since He is MASTER, I have had to learn how to trust Him with this in my own life.
If you want to hear more about this process in my life, listen to this sermon I preached almost 1 year ago. Just click on the link below:
Whether you listen to the message or not, here is my request:
- Gaze on His MAJESTY
- Be thankful that He is MESSIAH and has rescued us from sin and death and hell
- Declare him to be MASTER and choose to live by choosing to die to your expectations, agenda, etc. Ask Him for the strength to trust Him as MASTER.
Enjoy the journey because it is quite a ride.