Let’s take a short walk with Jesus and his “posse” as they are not yet able to comprehend they are within the very last days of their days with him. It’s an interesting peek behind the spiritual curtain at their humanity, if not a glimpse at how they sometimes operated in ignorance if not purely in the flesh.
In Mark 10, we read of Jesus walking ahead of the Twelve as they progressed towards Jerusalem with him for the last time. The passage says they were amazed, perhaps still reeling from Jesus’ troubling declaration that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The apostle’s response was “Who then can be saved?” That’s a fair question, isn’t it? And I suppose it’s an advantage not to be rich. Often riches breeds contentment and self-security, making it hard to depend on God, if one would even acknowledge God.
Peter, still pondering in his mind his personal version of “then what’s in it for me,” blurts out “we have left everything to follow you.” Saying “we” sometimes makes it seem less offensive since we have included an invisible cohort who firmly agrees with us. I am not alone wondering this, Jesus! Come to think of it, I’ve had moments where the thought “is this worth it” has crept into my thinking. I trust you are more spiritual than that. Those were darker, less lucid, discouraging times. Jesus was quick to try to prop up their morale by assuring them their personal investments in the kingdom would come back greatly multiplied - - not to worry.
Now picture this. Scripture says (Mk. 10:32+) again he (Jesus) took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles (Romans), who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Notice Jesus is telling the Twelve AGAIN that this is what is to come and he describes all the gruesome events in the clearest language.
Rather than be grief stricken and greatly lament, James and John shuffle in their sandals right up to Jesus and ask to have the positions of honor to his right and left as Jesus takes his place in glory. Now, don’t you have to question friends like that? Just picture that. Jesus paints a portrait of the arrest, trial, horrible torture and humiliation, execution and resurrection and these two are jockeying for future position. Who would do that? These surely aren’t the guys you see in the book of Acts, men who established the church at its origin and who wrote significant portions of scripture. Well - - - yes they are, sort of.
It’s really easy to take “pot shots” at the apostles who were young in their faith and understanding. It’s easy because we read the story of their emerging faith and confidence from the end back to the beginning. In essence, backwards. Peter, you scolded Jesus and denied him three times, yet in Acts you preached with amazing power and conviction, fearlessly proclaiming Christ before crowds as well as before the angry religious elite. All you guys feared for your lives on those stormy waters until Jesus was awakened and calmed the storm - - - -as well as your nerves.
Though these apostles were “common” men, they were marvelous men. Slow to catch on at times, needing explanations often, they grew and matured, especially having received the Holy Spirit and began depending on Him in the absence of Jesus’ physical presence. So what’s the takeaway for us as we too sometimes slumber and stumble and become confused in our spiritual maturation? Just keep going and don’t get discouraged. The same Holy Spirit that was given to the apostles and the early church, the Spirit who enabled courage, provided comfort and enlightenment, effected the working of miracles and who certifies salvation, is the same Spirit who, with our cooperation, will daily move in transforming you and I into the likeness of Jesus. Just take a look at your life from the rear view mirror sometime and see how far He has brought you. Think About It.