Psalm 31:9-16, Lamentations 3:55-66, Mark 10:32-34
Astonished and afraid.
We find in today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel that Jesus’ followers were astonished and afraid as they followed him on the road to Jerusalem. Maybe you can identify with this. I must confess that at any given time in my own journey following Jesus I have been one, or both, of these things. I put one foot in front of the other as I journey after Jesus not fully understanding where he is leading me. I remain astonished by the person of Jesus and the miracles of who he is while simultaneously being made afraid by the mysteries of the journey. As the disciples were experiencing these very things, the scripture tells us that Jesus took them aside and told them what was going to happen to him.
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
Jesus is out in front, leading the way to Jerusalem and then stops (for the third time in fact) to tell the disciples what is to come. The first time Jesus told them they didn’t believe him. The second time they didn’t want to believe him. But this third time, Jesus is again trying to help them understand the reality of what is about to occur: that the road of redemption must journey by the foot of the cross. It is a stark reality that the disciples were having trouble wrapping their minds around. So they did the only thing they knew to do in the midst of their bewilderment—they followed behind Jesus into Jerusalem.
During the Lenten season as we reflect on the realities of the cross perhaps you are also struggling to fully grasp the depth of its message. Perhaps the mystery of redemption seems to allude you. You might even find yourself astonished and afraid. I wonder if our scripture today is reminding us that Jesus continues to take us aside and reveal his message to us. Perhaps today, all you are able to do is fix your eyes on Jesus and follow each of his steps on the road to Jerusalem. During this Lenten season, may you be reminded that following in the steps of Jesus is, in fact, journeying toward redemption by way of the cross. May it be so.
Christy Ridings, Director of Spiritual Formation and Associate University Minister