And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
The business world has a concept called “success criteria”. When pursuing a project or strategic initiative, it’s important to identify what success looks like. What is the desired outcome and how will it be assessed, measured, and determined whether it has been achieved?
It struck me while reading through the book of Mark this morning that Jesus’ success criteria looked a lot different than what His disciples were expecting. They had their own idea of how the promised Messianic King would establish His kingdom and be exalted. Jesus had to reset their expectations. Success wasn’t to be judged or measured by the disciples. Success was measured by the Father. The desired outcome was that the Father’s will be fulfilled. Success had even been hinted at by the prophets and was documented in what would become known by us as the Old Testament.
So, what did success look like for the Messiah? According to Jesus in Mark 8:31, it looked like this:
- Suffer many things
- Be rejected
- Be killed
But although the OT prophets hinted at the suffering He would endure, they also pointed to His glory; how He would be high and lifted up, and exalted. And so, we should not forget that not only was He to suffer, be rejected, and killed. We also see that after three days He would rise again.
History tells us that according to this criteria, Jesus was very successful. History tells us that He did indeed suffer, He was rejected, He was definitely killed, and He most certainly rose after three days. Not only that, but we also know that He ultimately ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father and sent the Spirit to be our Counselor.
One thing I notice is that there’s a relationship between Jesus’ suffering and His glorification. And isn’t that true for us as well. We see that our present sufferings are not only refining us and equipping us for more fruitful lives in the here and now but they are also preparing us for our lives to come; when we find ourselves in the physical presence of Christ. And we know that our present sufferings are not even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.
Similar to the disciples, we need to be careful to not construct our own skewed view of who Jesus is and what He is about. We need to be informed by scripture, as illuminated by the Spirit, and have a clear picture of Jesus as revealed through His word. When it comes to our understanding of Jesus – who He is, what He thinks, how He acts – we need to humbly say, “not my will but your will be done”. We need to set our minds on the things of God not on the things of men.