And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me (Mark 10: 30-37)
Let us mark, in these verses, our Lord’s renewed announcement of His own coming death, and resurrection. “He taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after he is killed, he shall rise the third day.”
The dullness of the disciples in spiritual things appears once more, as soon as this announcement was made. There was good in the tidings as well as seeming evil — sweet as well as bitter — life as well as death — the resurrection as well as the cross. But it was all darkness to the bewildered twelve. “But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.” Their minds were still full of their mistaken ideas of their Master’s reign upon earth. They thought that His earthly kingdom was immediately to appear. Never are we so slow to understand, as when prejudice and pre-conceived opinions darken our eyes.
The immense importance of our Lord’s death and resurrection comes out strongly in this fresh announcement which He makes. It is not for nothing that He reminds us again that He must die. He would have us know that His death was the great end for which He came into the world. He would remind us that by that death the great problem was to be solved — how God could be just, and yet justify sinners. He did not come upon earth merely to teach, and preach, and work miracles. He came to make satisfaction for sin, by His own blood and suffering on the cross.
Let us never forget this. The incarnation, and example, and words of Christ, are all of deep importance. But the grand object which demands our notice in the history of His earthly ministry, is His death on Calvary.
Let us mark, in the second place, in these verses, the ambition and love of pre-eminence which the apostles exhibited. “By the way they disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.”
How strange this sounds! Who would have thought that a few fishermen and publicans could have been overcome by envious rivalry, and the desire of supremacy? Who would have expected that poor men, who had given up all for Christ’s sake, would have been troubled by strife and dissension, as to the place and precedence which each one deserved? Yet so it is. The fact is recorded for our learning. The Holy Spirit has caused it to be written down for the perpetual use of Christ's Church. Let us take care that it is not written in vain.
It is a solemn fact, whether we like to allow it or not, that pride is one of the commonest sins which beset human nature. We are all born Pharisees. We all naturally think far better of ourselves than we ought. We all naturally imagine that we deserve something better than we have. It is an old sin. It began in the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve thought they had not got everything that their merits deserved. It is a subtle sin. It rules and reigns in many a heart without being detected, and can even wear the garb of humility. It is a most soul ruining sin. It prevents repentance, keeps men back from Christ — checks brotherly love, and nips in the bud spiritual desires. Let us watch against it, and be on our guard. Of all garments, none is so graceful, none wears so well, and none is so rare, as true humility. (… to be concluded)
(Adapted from GraceGems website)