“They asked Him, saying, ‘Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ And He said to them, ‘Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.'” (9:12-13)
The Scriptures available to the scribes were full of prophesies about the Messiah; both as triumphant king and suffering servant. He would wear many hats! However, since those two things didn’t seem to make sense together, they ignored the prophesies about suffering. This is how Peter can, in one moment, proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, and in the next moment, rebuke Him for saying He would suffer.
They missed the coming (and going) of the second Elijah (John the Baptist), because he came and went tragically, without fanfare. This doesn’t feel very hopeful. Why are these the fulfillments of prophesies they’ve waited so long to see? Even after Peter is set straight, the disciple’s next conversation is about their prestigious positions in the Kingdom (now that it’s been confirmed: Jesus is the Messiah).
These chapters take place on the way to Jerusalem and it seems all kinds of people are joining the caravan. A rich young ruler wants in, but Jesus tells him following would require giving up his wealth, so the man leaves. A blind man wants to see, and the disciples try to keep him away, but Jesus heals him and he joins the party. What a contrast.
Jesus tells them being great in His kingdom means being a servant. It won’t look like how Gentile Kingdoms are set up, with people of greatness lording over their subjects. It doesn’t seem like these truths sink in, because of all that follows. They’re not going to get it until after the resurrection.
As we sit on this side of the resurrection, knowing full well that our Messiah is King, but also a suffering servant, asking His disciples to take the positions of servant also, how is it we still seek prestigious titles and go to great lengths to avoid pain?
I am very guilty of this. Carly and I often talk about how we are Enneagram 7’s, which are identified as avoiders of all discomfort. Deciding to follow Jesus, naturally, is a draw toward someone who will care for us, kiss our boo-boos and make them all better, lead us into adventure and unpredictable excitement. We rush to the phone and call each other whenever life goes sideways and we face “the dark place”. In those moments, we do our best to remind each other that LIFE ISN’T ALL ABOUT AVOIDING PAIN (but also give each other stellar pep talks). Following Jesus is no exception.
Is there something Jesus is calling you into that you’re avoiding, because you know its going to hurt or be uncomfortable? Are you wanting to be an influencer for the Kingdom, but struggling with the idea of servant-hood? Talk to Him about it today.