Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. The closer he gets the greater the urgency to teach his followers about where all of this is headed. Thus, passing through Galilee, Jesus avoids the public eye; he opts for anonymity so that he can teach his disciples. In Mark 10 he does the same thing, taking “the twelve aside” (Mark 10:32). In both Mark 9 and 10 the lesson is the same: suffering, death, resurrection.
The disciples don’t understand this. What’s more, they don’t bother to ask questions. They don’t seek clarification. It's not for lackof interest. Fear keeps them reticent. Sometimes there are things we’d prefer not to know.
Rather than seeking further instruction on what it means for them to follow Jesus to the place of suffering and death, they argue with each other about the nature of their rank and position. The twelve are competing for the highest spots on the roster.
Jesus wants to talk about laying down his life. The disciples want to argue about climbing the ladder. The road Jesus walks has two-lane traffic; it’s difficult to find Jesus in the everyday when every day is consumed with moving in a direction other than the one Jesus is trying to take us.
********Of course, few are called to martyrdom. Not many of us will be on the receiving end of hostile persecution. Jesus isn’t modeling for us a life of intentional misery that postures as holy. But Jesus is certainly moving in a direction that feels odd to us; the way he walks is a narrow way that lives life by giving life away. Jesus refuses to feed our ambitious appetites.
Like the disciples, we don’t always want to know this. We don’t eagerly inquire into the way of suffering and death, service and sacrifice. We like being on the Jesus team. We don’t always like running his plays. We walk the road he walks, but to a different destination.
How would you define the destination of your life today? What would it mean for you to work hard, to give your best to this day – but step off the ladder and simply go where Jesus is going? Sometimes the destination that Jesus chooses is not one we would have chosen for ourselves.
Be well warned: once we actually find Jesus in the everyday, we are not allowed to simply observe where he goes. We do not find Jesus in order to talk about what he does. Once we find him, we are called to follow. Where might Jesus be leading you today?
Lord Jesus, how easily we give our energy and attention to our standing in the world rather than our walk with you. Teach us what it means to follow you, allowing you to determine the way and the destination of our living, today and always. Amen.