30 Then Jesus and his followers left that place and went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know where he was, 31 because he was teaching his followers. He said to them, “The Son of Man will be handed over to people, and they will kill him. After three days, he will rise from the dead.” 32 But the followers did not understand what Jesus meant, and they were afraid to ask him. ~ Mark 9:30-32
Today, we return to our study of Mark 9 where the Lord Jesus has just delivered a young man who had been possessed by a demon since his childhood. We are not sure how long this young man was in that state, but the day he met the Lord Jesus, he returned to the normal life that he once knew when he was a boy. This story was a part of the discipleship program the Lord was providing for His disciples.
In v.30-31a of today's passage we read, "30 Then Jesus and his followers left that place and went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know where he was, 31 because he was teaching his followers."
It is evident that the Lord deliberately avoided the crowds as He and His disciples went back toward Capernaum. They took the back roads in order not to be seen, because the Lord wanted to spend time with His disciples. All through the Gospels we see that His primary target was these twelve men. He poured His life into these guys who struggled to understand His ways and His culture.
Most Christians believe discipleship is going through a ten step program where we fill in a few blanks in a study guide given to us by the one doing the teaching. The problem with this model is garnering information so that I can regurgitate it is a far cry from the organic reality of having a personal relationship with God and with others.
Discipleship happens when we walk through life learning to live according to God's definitions of all things. Discipleship happens when we are taught by God and His influence in our lives seeps out and influences others. Essential for discipleship to happen is we must be active at walking with the Lord for ourselves.
This does not mean that the one who is growing at being a disciple of Christ is somehow better than anyone else, it just means we are being taught by the Lord on a daily basis, and, we are influencing others with that which we are learning. Essentially, the message of the cross is the best measurement of authentic discipleship. If the reality of dying to self and living unto the Lord is present in our lives, then we are active disciples.
In v.31b-32 of today's passage we read, "He said to them, “The Son of Man will be handed over to people, and they will kill him. After three days, he will rise from the dead.” 32 But the followers did not understand what Jesus meant, and they were afraid to ask him."
This was the second time in Mark that the Lord Jesus told His disciples that He would die and be raised from the dead. And, He reiterated this fact before He got into the nuts and bolts of teaching His followers what it looks like to follow Him diligently. He did this to show a clear difference between the believer's justification and sanctification. These must be kept separate because if we teach that our sanctification factors into our justification, then we would be guilty of heresy.
Whereas our justification refers to God’s declaration that we are determined to be righteous in His sight, sanctification is the continual process of dying to self and allowing the Lord Jesus to define us. Justification is a one-time act whereby sanctification is an on-going process.
The phrase "handed over" in v.31 really means "betrayed." This is the very word used later to describe the betrayal of Judas. This, of course, would not be a surprise to the Lord Jesus for He knew that the eternal status of every human who has ever lived and will ever live was dependent upon Him being judged for all sin on the cross.
The Lord Jesus instructed His disciple in private. Like many of us, the disciples feared what they did not understand. After the Lord Jesus told the disciples about His death and resurrection, they struggled in their understanding of a suffering Christ. They, literally, could not comprehend what He was talking about. They couldn't comprehend it because they had closed off the possibility of death for the Lord Jesus. Like us, they struggled to be defined by God.
At this point, the disciples simply were not ready for a suffering Christ, especially One who would die and be raised from the dead. And so, the Lord Jesus gently but very firmly taught them to face up to the implications of His soon coming death. Through this teaching, the Lord Jesus made it very clear to His disciples that there is no discipleship without the secondary teaching of the cross. In tomorrow's blog and podcast, we will consider more of the implications of the secondary teachings of the cross upon the life of the disciple. And for today, we reiterate the utter necessity that in order for us to grow in our faith in the Lord Jesus, we must say "no" to the evil desires that are still in us and which beckon us daily.