The Things Jesus Knew, Part V
Gospel of Mark
February 6, 2000
None of us can predict the course of our earthly destiny except for the certainty of the grave. Heb. 9:27 says, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." This is in agreement with this morning's somewhat cynical passage in Ecclesiastes that frames the norm of human thought without hope in Christ.
But in our N.T. we need to read the rest of the passage in Heb. 9:28 that says, "So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
The one exception to the permanence of the grave (and glorious this is) is that those of us who are in Christ are absolutely sure of our eternal destiny in him, as he has promised, and as his Holy Spirit testifies to us. The Bible calls this destiny, "eternal life." (By the way, if you are absolutely certain of your future with Christ, you will do everything possible to live above sin in order to please him.)
The whole reason for our confidence is that, unlike we who cannot predict the course of our earthly destiny except for the certainty of the grave, Jesus did know the course and even the details of his earthly destiny as the Christ, the Savior of mankind that would make this eternal life possible for all who believe in him. All this was prophesied in Scripture, and Jesus knew he would be the fulfillment of it all.
V. Knowledge of Personal Destiny
A. His Coming Death and Resurrection
1. Jesus Begins to Teach His Disciples about His Death
In this first of several passages about it in Mark, Jesus began to teach his disciples that he would suffer many things, be rejected by the religious leaders, be killed, and rise again after three days. If all this proved to be true, then Jesus certainly is omniscient, especially about the fact of his resurrection that no man had ever yet experienced except through his miracles. This passage says he spoke plainly about all this – it was not veiled, there could be no mistake.
Jesus' teaching about this immediately follows Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, so Jesus continued on to teach what being the Christ is all about. But Peter had trouble accepting it, and Jesus rebuked him.
The question remains for us today whether we can accept it, even after the fact. And the passage tells us who it is that interferes with our acceptance of it – Satan. If Jesus knew his own destiny as the Christ, he certainly knows ours by faith in him as the Christ, and he knows how to rebuke the enemy of our faith.
Jesus went on in verse 34ff to explain that the practical application of that faith would be for a disciple to deny himself and take up his cross and follow him. In saying this he also knew the manner of his death upon a cross, and he explained the purpose of his death as not for himself but for his disciples who would have eternal life by faith in him and in what he accomplished by his death and resurrection. So it is clear that Jesus also knows the destiny of his followers as well as his own destiny. By faith our destiny is knit together with his.
2. Jesus Continues to Teach His Disciples about His Death
Considering how difficult it was even for his own confessing disciple (Peter) to accept his destiny as Savior, Jesus would have to teach it more than once. Peter had confessed Jesus as the Christ but he had no idea of what being the Christ meant. So Jesus repeated that the Son of Man would be betrayed into the hands of men who would kill him, but after three days he would rise.
He had purposefully taken his disciples off alone without the possibility of any interference to teach them this. But the disciples still did not understand. They could not conceive of such a thing. They were even afraid to ask him more about what he meant. Perhaps they were afraid of knowing what it meant because the next event in Mark's gospel is the account of the disciples' argument about who is the greatest. They obviously did not understand his message to them about his own sacrifice for them because they fail to have a sacrificial attitude toward each other. Jesus patiently teaches us about our need of him because he knows how much patience we need.
3. Jesus Again Predicts His Death (10:32-40)
From 8:31 onward, Jesus is unalterably on his way to Jerusalem to complete his passion. He is driven and single-minded in his purpose to be the Savior of the world. His disciples must understand this purpose so they will not fall away when it happens. The disciples and those who followed were astonished and afraid as Jesus led the way to Jerusalem. So he took them aside once more to tell them what was going to happen to him there. He was going to be betrayed into the hands of the religious leaders who would condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who would mock him and kill him, but three days later he would rise.
Each time he teaches them it seems they don't really get it. First it was Peter who couldn't accept it, and then after the next time they were all arguing about who was the greatest. This time it is James and John who now ask to sit on his right and left in his glory. They want the glory but they have not understood the way of the cross to get there. But Jesus knows that they will indeed understand it as certainly as he knows it will take place. They will drink his cup of suffering and be baptized with the horror of sin. His patient understanding of them will bear the fruit of their understanding and obedience and deliverance.
4. Jesus Predicts His Death as Imminent (14:25)
The Passover meal has now been celebrated and it is the final picture of his death on the night before the cross. They have shared the bread and the cup which Jesus compares to his body and his blood that will be sacrificed upon the cross. This is the basis for a new covenant.
He knows that he is to be the sacrificial lamb tomorrow as he says he will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until he drinks it anew in the kingdom of God. Jesus knew his purpose and its fulfillment. And he knew it would be for us because he said that the blood of the covenant would be poured out for many. Do we know that his purpose for us is also to be our purpose for him? As his blood was poured for us, we are to spend our lives for him in the same way without thought for ourselves in service to others.
B. Witnesses to His Death and Resurrection
1. Some who were Standing There (9:1)
After Jesus taught his disciples the first time clearly about his death and resurrection in 8:31 we get another glimpse of his omniscience. By this time he had called the crowd to himself, along with his disciples who were already with him, as he taught them about the cross and what it meant. And he told them that some who were standing there would not taste death before they saw the kingdom of God come in power. Now this could be in reference to the transfiguration which follows next in Matthew, Mark and Luke. In this case it would be only Peter, James and John that he was referring to who would not taste death before they saw his this power of God.
But Jesus also knew how close the event of the cross was and what it would mean concerning the availability of the kingdom of God and its power for them. Not only would some not die before it came, but because it would come, some would never taste eternal death. The coming of the kingdom of God comes with the cross. Jesus was so certain of the event that he could proclaim witnesses to it. They would witness the truth of his death and resurrection. And the transfiguration event told about next is the pre-figuration of that certain glory through the cross.
C. The Purpose for His Death and Resurrection
1. The Will of God (8:33)
Jesus said his death would be the will of God not to be deterred by man or Satan. One could argue that Peter is trying to keep Jesus from what he thinks is discouragement, but it is more than that. Jesus knew it was Satan behind Peter's effort to dissuade him from the cross. But why would Satan try to dissuade Jesus from the cross when he seemed to be so involved in it?
Satan, through men, had been trying to put Jesus to death from the beginning (Herod). Did Satan not believe that Jesus could rise from the dead? How could that be if he tried to keep him from the cross? It seems Satan was both trying to kill Jesus and to prevent the cross. It was the entanglement of evil, the classic double-bind, as the pressure was on Jesus to use other means to establish his kingship and avoid the suffering of the cross.
It was this same thing that Satan tried to force through Judas, the betrayer. And this temptation Satan was trying to give Jesus through Peter was just like the temptation he used in the wilderness at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. He was trying to get Jesus to act outside the will of God the Father in setting up his kingdom. If he could be successful in this, he would be able to thwart the success of Christ's kingdom. The will of God desired Christ's kingdom to be founded on spiritual truth rather than worldly power. The cross was God's plan according to God's eternal purpose. Jesus knew that purpose and his single-minded devotion to it for us.
2. The Ransom for Man (10:45)
In this verse, Jesus further explains the will of God for himself and for believers. It is that he be used according to the will of God on our behalf. Jesus, before the cross, came as a servant to bear our sins to ransom us from eternal death. All this is proved by his resurrection. The next account of blind Bartimaeus shows us that we can see this mercy of God by calling on Jesus by faith. Then his triumphal entry into our lives is a reality as we see in the passage after that.
Jesus clearly knew the purpose of his life as a ransom for sin in service to God and man to reunite what sin had broken. Do we know our purpose this clearly in service to him? Those who have been ransomed owe it all – because the grave has been conquered. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a divine center, a speaking voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto itself. . . . It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. . . . Here is the slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action.
Thomas R. Kelly (1893-1941)
The man with a cross no longer controls his destiny; he lost control when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming interference. No matter what he may desire to do, there is but one thing he can do; that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion.
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
The destiny of every human being depends on his relationship to Jesus Christ. It is not on his relationship to life, or on his service or his usefulness, but simply and solely on his relationship to Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
Jesus Christ never asks anyone to define his position or to understand a creed, except to answer the question "Who am I to you?" ... Jesus Christ makes the whole of human destiny depend on a man's relationship to himself.
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
We must be definite with God, not making just a lot of motions, but moving in the direction God wants us to go.
The famous Professor Huxley was attending a convention of scientists in Ireland, and was late for the meeting one morning. He hailed a carriage and said to the driver, "Drive fast, for I am in a great hurry." The driver started off at a mad pace and after a few minutes the professor began to be shaken up. "Do you know where I want to go?" he asked the driver.
"No yer 'onor," answered the driver. "You didn't tell me where to go, but anyway, I am driving fast."
Be sure your destination is decided. It will do you no good to go through a lot of religious motion if you have not been born again. It is the new birth that fixes your eternal destiny.
Donald Grey Barnhouse, Bible Truth Illustrated, Keats Publishing, Inc., 1979, p. 5.
SOME SAY: Everyone is basically good.
GOD SAYS: "All have sinned" (Romans 3:23).
SOME SAY: There is no hell, so there's no need to be concerned.
GOD SAYS: "Fear him who...has power to throw you into hell" (Luke 12:5).
SOME SAY: Heaven is not a real place.
GOD SAYS: "I am going...to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).
SOME SAY: There is no such thing as life after death.
GOD SAYS: "Man is destined to die...and after that...judgment"
SOME SAY: We can do nothing about the future. What is going to be will be.
GOD SAYS: "You must be born again" (John 3:7). How can you be born again? -- "Whoever confesses and renounces [his sins] finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). "To all who received him [Christ]...he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12).
SOME SAY: We cannot be sure of salvation or our destiny when we die.
GOD SAYS: "You may know that you have eternal life" (I John 5:13).