On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
In the Lead
“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.” (Mark 10:32, NIV)
Usually we say one is going “up” when they’re headed north. Not so in Israel. It’s always “up” to Jerusalem — no matter where you are coming from.
Jesus has headed south from Galilee, moving toward Jericho before the ascent to Jerusalem — and in that nearly 100-mile walk through the Jordan Rift Valley, His pathway is up. For us, He journeys up to the cross, up to the Garden Tomb, up from the dead on Easter morning, and up to heaven 40 days after His resurrection.
And we are all taking that journey with Him. Like the Twelve, our ultimate journey is also “up” — and He leads the way.
I doubt if the original disciples were in the mood to go to Jerusalem. They understood the danger that faced Jesus and them. The group with Jesus is described in two categories: the disciples (that is, the Twelve), and those who followed. They have two reactions to Jesus’ itinerary.
The Twelve are astonished He is doing this, while the others following are afraid. Why the difference in perspective?
In all probability, the disciples were close enough to Jesus to have confidence in His leadership, so they were not fearful of what might happen. They had been with Jesus in Jerusalem on other journeys (recorded in John’s Gospel) and had returned safely to Galilee. If there was danger this time, didn’t Jesus have the ability to dodge disaster? At Nazareth He walked through a crowd that sought to push Him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30), and previously in Jerusalem the opposition tried to seize Him but no one laid a hand on Him because His time had not yet come (John 7:30).
I suspect the Twelve were astonished that Jesus would go up to Jerusalem again and walk head-on into the lions’ den of danger. But the Twelve were not fearful because they had seen Jesus escape unscathed on prior occasions. Their astonishment arose out of respect for Jesus’ bravery.
Not so for those following. They had not been with Jesus on the prior occasions in Nazareth and Jerusalem. They realistically sensed danger. Given their fear, Jesus could not disclose to them what was really going to happen. So He took the Twelve aside and gave them a special message not obtainable by the rest.
Jesus demonstrated in this act of separation of the Twelve from the others that wisdom provides for timely disclosure. If the Twelve could barely handle the information He would give them, the rest could not have absorbed it at all. We might well remember that when we are tempted to spill more information than another person is prepared to receive.
Jesus talks to the Twelve only about what is going to happen to Him — not to them. That’s almost always the case. Jesus does not tell us what is going to happen next to us. We would like to know, but Jesus remains quiet.
We’ll only find out where we are going and what we are to do if we follow Him one day at a time! But we can be assured that no matter where we go, He has been there ahead of us. Our Lord and Savior is always in the lead!
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark