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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on June 19, 2016 under 2016 |

Message preached Sunday, June 19, 2016 from Mark 10:32-34

Theme: Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem was His earnest act to become our atoning sacrifice in accordance with the Scriptures.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

I humbly suggest that there has been too much of a certain kind of preaching in churches today; and not enough of another.

The kind of preaching that there has been too much of is not necessarily bad in and of itself. It’s the kind of preaching that’s main focus is to tell you what to ‘do’. It is focused—primarily—on the practical. You hear it in the form of ‘The Ten Basic Steps to A Godly Marriage”, or “Five Biblical Principles of Money Management”. I don’t mind that kind of preaching. I very often find it helpful; and I’m sure you do to. I think that because it focuses so much on what we can ‘do’, it has become very popular. But I believe that too much of it is not a good thing; because it tends to focus an inordinate amount of attention on you or me. Too much of this kind of preaching—without enough the other kind—can actually be bad for the soul.

The kind of preaching that I believe there’s not enough of in churches today is the kind that doesn’t worry so much about what you or I need to ‘do’—that is, that doesn’t worry so much about whether or not it is ‘practical’; and that focuses, instead, on simply inspiring the heart to worship, and to have a renewed sense of wonder at the majesty of God’s love for us in Christ. We should not, of course, do away with the first kind of preaching. But we should balance it with—and, perhaps even more importantly, base it upon—the second kind.

I will be straightforward with you, and tell you that this morning’s message is of the second kind. It is based on a passage that will not give you and I the ‘Ten Basic Steps’ to doing anything. But it will tell us about what it is that God has done for us in His Son Jesus Christ. And if we will believe it, and be caught up in the wonder of it, and allow our hearts to be transformed by it, it will become foundational to everything else we ‘do’.

* * * * * * * * * *

This passage is found in Mark 10. And it’s a passage that describes to us the beginnings of a turning point in Mark’s story of the life and ministry of Jesus.

You might remember that way back—when we first began our study of Mark—I suggested to you that the key verse to Mark’s Gospel is Mark 10:45. In it, Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” I suggested to you that the first half of that verse is the content of Chapters 1-10; that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. They tell us the story of Jesus as the Servant of mankind. And the second half of that verse is the content of Chapters 11-16; that Jesus came to give His life “a ransom for many”. The focus of those chapters is His death on the cross as our atoning Sacrifice.

Our passage this morning is Mark 10:32-34; and in it, the “Servant” phase of Jesus’ earthly ministry is being brought to a close, and the “Savior” phase is about to begin. It’s a passage that tells us about how He was making His way to the cross—and about the things that were on His mind as He did so.

Jesus was walking with His disciples on this journey—and apparently, there were others who were following along. Mark tells us;

Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again” (Mark 10:32-34).

And I can’t necessarily tell you something that you or I should ‘do’ with this passage—other than we should believe what it says; and allow ourselves to be moved by the Holy Spirit with a sense of wonder and awe at the love of God for us through His Son Jesus, and to worship Him in return.

It’s not about something that we do. Instead, it’s about appreciating something that Jesus did for us—and about our need to simply receive it. It’s about how Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem was three things: It was an action (1) that was done in an attitude of great earnestness of heart, (2) that had, as its purpose, the laying down of His life as our atoning sacrifice, and (3) that—throughout—was in complete conformity to the promises found in of the Old Testament Scriptures.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; let’s just bask together in these three things one at a time. First, let’s consider that this was …


Mark begins by telling us that “they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem”. As we have been going through our study of Mark’s Gospel together, we have already been aware of this. There had been lots of important events that have happened along the way so far; and we have been learning from them together. But the thing that they all had in common was that they were events that occurred in the context of His journey to Jerusalem.

And Mark tells us some very fascinating details about this journey. He tells us, for example, that “Jesus was going before” His disciples, and before those others who followed along. He wasn’t walking along beside them, or strolling in their midst, as it seems that He usually did. Instead, He was up ahead of the group—as if He was taking a very clear lead; and was making a solitary and determined effort to get where He was going. Everyone else was coming behind—trying, as it were, to keep up and follow Him.

And do you notice the attitude of those who were behind Him? We’re told, for example, that His twelve disciples were “amazed” or “astonished”. That would seem like a rather important detail; don’t you agree? In fact, the way it’s put in the original language is something like this: “They began to be on the way—going up to Jerusalem … and they began to be amazed.” Why would they be growing to be particularly “amazed” at this point of their walk with Jesus? I suggest to you that it was because of the fact that He was going to Jerusalem at all—a very dangerous place for Him to go to at that point; and that He was even in such serious earnestness about getting there!

You see; the Gospel of John tells us a detail around this point of the story that Mark doesn’t mention. It’s that the scribes and Pharisees and religious leaders had recently tried to kill Jesus. They took up stones to stone Him to death because He—being a mere man, as they thought—had made Himself out to be God. He had escaped from their hands and had walked away alive. But now—to their amazement—He was going back!

It had been a little before this journey to Jerusalem that Jesus went to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead. Do you remember what happened then? He said to His disciples that He wanted to go to Bethany—a short distance from Jerusalem—to where Lazarus was. And His disciples responded by saying, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11:8). Jesus nevertheless insisted on doing so; and we’re told, “Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him’” (v. 16).

I believe that’s why the twelve disciples were “amazed” as they went on this journey. They were astonished that He insisted on going back to the very same place where the leaders had wanted to kill Him just a short while before—and even that He seemed very earnest about going there.

I believe that this also explains the attitude of the others who followed. The translation of the Bible that I am using has it, “And as they followed they were afraid.” But I believe other translations have it more accurately when they translate it, “And those who followed were afraid.” I believe this is talking about a separate group from the twelve disciples—some folks who were, you might way, ‘tagging along’. And it’s understandable that they would be afraid. They were following Jesus to that place where He had almost been stoned to death by the leaders of their people just shortly before. Some of the disciples were prepared—if needs be—to die for Jesus. But perhaps these others weren’t prepared for such a commitment. They must have wondered what it was that they had gotten themselves into!

And I believe the sense of astonishment and fear in both groups was enhanced by the great sense of earnestness that they saw on the Lord’s face, and in the determination they saw in His stride. Perhaps they may have thought of what the prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 50:3—words that give us the prophetic declaration of our Lord Himself in the context of His sacrifice for us:

For the Lord God will help Me;

Therefore I will not be disgraced;

Therefore I have set My face like a flint,

And I know that I will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:3).

And dear brothers and sisters; why would it be that He was so astonishingly and steadfastly determined to go to the place where He had just been threatened with death? If Jesus knew—as this passage makes so very clear that He did know—that He would be going to His death, then why did He go so earnestly? Why did He set His face “like a flint” to do so? The answer is simple. It was because of His great love for you and me. He wanted us! The writer of Hebrews puts it this way in Hebrews 12:1-2;

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

What was “the joy that was set before Him” that so motivated Him to go to where He would have to “endure the cross, despising the shame”? That great joy was the anticipation of you and me being purified of all our sins, and brought into an eternal fellowship of love with Him in His Father’s house. His great joy was the expectation of having us with Him in heavenly glory forever!

That’s why He was so earnest! And that being true, then how earnest we should be in our love for Him in return!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; notice next that He was in great earnest to make His way to Jerusalem …


Mark lets us know that Jesus made a distinction between His twelve disciples and those others who followed. The twelve were especially appointed by Him to bear the message of who He is and what He had done to the world. And so, Mark tells us; “Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him …”

Do you notice that Mark said that He took them aside “again”? That’s because this would be the third time in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus pulled His twelve apostles aside and told them specifically what would happen to Him. The first time was in Chapter 8—right after the apostles had made the great confession that He is the Christ. The second time was in Chapter 9—right after He had cast the unclean spirit out of a little boy. And now comes the third time. It was clear in all of those other times that the apostles didn’t understand what it was that He was telling them; and according to the Gospel of Luke, they didn’t understand this time either. It would only be after He died and was raised from the dead that they would understand that He told them all these things in advance.

And look at what He tells them this time. He says, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem …” There’s great significance in that. For one thing, it was literally true. Jerusalem was at a high elevation in the land; and anytime you went there, you were going “up”. But there was also a figurative and spiritual sense of going “up” to Jerusalem. It was because you were going up to the holy city of God.

When I was in Israel not long ago, and we were making our way—conveniently by bus, by the way—to Jerusalem, we were told that we were making “Aliyah”. That means, “making ascent”—in a moral and spiritual sense, as well as in a physical sense—to that greatest of all cities on earth; the city of God. It was thought that, in making ‘Aliyah’, you were making the journey to draw close to where God is—to where His temple is.

When I think of this, I think of the song that King David wrote for his people in Psalm 122 about making this journey:

I was glad when they said to me,

Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Our feet have been standing

Within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem is built

As a city that is compact together,

Where the tribes go up,

The tribes of the Lord,

To the Testimony of Israel,

To give thanks to the name of the Lord.

For thrones are set there for judgment,

The thrones of the house of David (Psalm 122:1-5).

But there was something particularly important about the fact that Jesus told His disciples that they were making their way to Jerusalem. The time of Passover was drawing near; and Jesus—our Passover Lamb—was drawing near to where the Temple was. It was at the Temple that sacrifice was made for the atonement of sin. And it seems to me that Jesus was eluding to the fact that He was on His way to be that sacrifice for us. As it says in Isaiah 53 concerning Him;

Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned, every one, to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).

We should make sure that we see this trip—this very earnest journey to Jerusalem—as a tremendously and wonderfully purposeful one. Jesus was going there to bear the guilt of our sins on the cross and die for you and me. It’s a trip unto the laying down of His own life in love—and in which He had you and me in mind.

* * * * * * * * * *

And finally, let’s consider that there was nothing accidental or unplanned about it. This was all done according to the divine plan of God the Father. Jesus was submitting to this act of obedience …


Look at what Jesus told His disciples would happen when they got there. He mentions eight specific things.

He said that He—the Son of Man (which is His title as the Messiah)—“will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes …” One of His own disciples—someone from among that very group that He was then speaking to—would betray Him into the hands of the very religious leaders who had wanted earlier to kill Him. They would hold a trial under the darkness of night, “and they will condemn Him to death …”

But in a remarkable twist, it would not be those Jewish leaders who performed the act of killing Him. And He would not be stoned, as they had originally intended. Instead, they would “deliver Him to the Gentiles …” He would be turned over to the judgment of the Roman governor; and Pilate would administer the death sentence. The Gentile Roman governor would hand Him over to the Roman soldiers, “and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him …”; and then, take Him up to Golgotha hill for crucifixion—which was something that only the Roman did—and there “kill Him.”

But that’s not all. As He promises; “And the third day He will rise again.” He would suffer these things; but would rise victorious—our Savior, and the Conqueror of sin and death.

Now; did you know that some Bible scholars have found these words, here attributed to Jesus, to be so accurate in what they foretell that those scholars assume they could not have been spoken by Him? They assume instead that it was a literary form of ‘prophecy after the fact’—something that was written into the story later, to appear as if the Lord announced in advance what would happen to Him.

But dear brothers and sisters in Christ—He did announce it; and had already announced it to His disciples two times before! He knew all along; because as God in human flesh, He knew the plan and purpose of His Father. He knew it because it had already been written down in the Scriptures from long ago. He was fulfilling the promise of Isaiah 53:3;

He is despised and rejected by men,

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;

He was despised, and we did not esteem Him (Isaiah 53:3).

He was doing as was promised about Him in Isaiah 50:6;

I gave My back to those who struck Me,

And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;

I did not hide My face from shame and spitting (Isaiah 50:6).

He was fulfilling the words that King David spoke concerning Him in Psalm 22:14-16;

For dogs have surrounded Me;

The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.

They pierced My hands and My feet;

I can count all My bones.

They look and stare at Me.

They divide My garments among them,

And for My clothing they cast lots (Psalm 22:14-16).

And this means that nothing that happened to Him happened by accident. He fulfilled every word of prophecy concerning Himself in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Do you remember how, after He rose from the dead, He met two disciples traveling along on the road to Emmaus? They were grieving because He had died on the cross. And yet; there He was alive—speaking to them.

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27).

That’s a key part of the gospel—that Jesus did all that He did in accordance with the Scriptures. The apostle Paul, when he proclaimed the gospel, wrote;

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures … (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

* * * * * * * * * *

You know; there are a lot of people around us today that think we shouldn’t waste our time talking about such things as this. They say, “There are so many problems in the world today—problems that need immediate attention! There are things that require immediate action! There is so much injustice! There are so many murders and shootings! There are great financial inequities! There are so many acts of racism and hate! There is so much wrong in this world! Why take up time talking about things like this? Why not instead tell everyone what to ‘do’?”

But dear brothers and sisters; I have come to believe that the reason there are so many of those terrible evils in the world today is precisely because we aren’t talking about this enough! We’re not letting the truth of what Jesus has done to solve the problems of the human heart to sink in enough; and are not allowing ourselves to be transformed enough by it; and are not stopping to acknowledge it, and believe it, and give God thanks for it enough!

May God help us to let the wonderful truth of all that this journey to Jerusalem means sink in—that it was an act that Jesus performed in earnestness because of His desire for us; that it was an act that was intended to bring about full atonement for all our sins; and that it was an act that was in the loving intention of the Father from before time, and declared to us in the Scriptures. May it transform us, and cause us to worship Him in love and gratitude and full acceptance!

What a practical transformation it would make in this world if more of us did that!

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