As the days settled in Jerusalem, Jesus won’t stop talking about morbid days ahead. What erratic lunacy it must have been, for the disciples to witness their messiah brooding over his death. These few days was hard for Christ, but it must have been utterly confusing for the disciples. Here is the messiah, who they believed would grant them great health, wealth and happiness – one who was going to overthrow the Roman rule. And yet they kept hearing Him say, He was going to be killed by His own people?! When Peter rebuked Christ, he confirmed these sentiments. But Christ had a different objective. Jesus did not come to satisfy our shortsighted, glory-hungry whims and fancies. He came to grant us salvation. But Jesus knew, the kind of God they imagined Him to be – one that takes their side, grants them comfort, and overthrows their enemies. And therefore, He asked: Who do we say this Jesus is?
There are three important points to be noted here. First, joy could only come through mourning this sinful life. Because eternal life could only come through the Cross. Second, we are not to seek comfort in this world – which the scriptures rightfully deemed, the Kingdom of the Evil one. (1 Jn 5:19) And lastly, we are to forgive one another. (Mark 11:25) Marshal Segal writes,
“Our salvation was purchased with suffering, and it will be sealed and preserved with suffering (James 1:2–4), not comfort… If we come to the crucified one expecting him to make life easier and more comfortable, we’re not listening to him. Jesus says, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34).” (Pg. 38-39)
The mark of a true disciple is suffering. A world that rejects Christ, cannot accept His followers. (John 15:19) But our confidence lies in that fact that God forgave us and called us His own. Therefore, as forgiven people, we ought to forgive.
For Jesus, it was important that the disciples know that a life of suffering awaited them, and they were not to hold any grudges nor hatred against anyone. Because the failure to do so posed a greater problem. But ultimately, none of this could come through until and unless they could do away with their false imagination of who Christ was. Because for Jesus, His desire for His followers were not for them to become rich, comfortable, and enjoy great authority in the world. Christ desired His people to be driven by a self-sacrificial love. Because love alone was/is the category of His Kingdom – not riches, not conquest, not political power – none of that which resembles this fallen world. Therefore, for Jesus this question was really important. It was important that they know Him for who He really is – before He could lay down His life. So that they could follow Him to the kingdom of eternal life, He was preparing for them.
Dear readers, I wonder if Christ was to ask us – who do we say this Jesus is? Would we have the correct answer? Or will He find us riddled by the god of our own imagination? Will He find us desiring a god that grants us great health, and takes our side against people who treat us unfavorably?! There is only one thing I can say: life is full of suffering as it is, why not suffer for good. To God be the Glory.
Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy (3) Holy Monday: Tough Love