Jesus was not quite the messiah his disciples expected. They were expecting a king to lead Israel into a triumphant victory over the Romans, but this was not how Jesus saw it. In fact, he was turning everything upside down. He was teaching that he must suffer, be rejected, and die. Peter was not at all sure about this and tried to correct him, so Jesus had to reminded Peter that he was his follower, and not the other way around: Peter needed to focus on what God was doing and not what he thought God should be doing.
Jesus went on to say, “If anyone wants to become my follower, then let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me – even to death. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life, for my sake, will save it.”
Around this time, many people were bringing their children to him to bless them, but the disciples drove them away. When Jesus realised he said, “Let the children come to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
Another example of Jesus’ upside down view of the kingdom occurred when, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him what he must do to enter the kingdom. Jesus replied, “You lack only one thing; go, sell what you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the man heard this, he was saddened, for he had many possessions with which he did not want to part, and so he went away grieving. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “It is hard for those with wealth to enter the kingdom of God, but even then, for God all things are possible!”
The disciples had spent several years with Jesus, and still they did not understand him. They were travelling to Jerusalem and some of them thought that Jesus was to at last claim his kingdom, and so they argued amongst themselves as to who would have top position in the kingdom. So Jesus called them over and said, “You know that among the non-Jews, those whom they recognise as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones become tyrants, but it is not to be so among you. Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For I came not to be served but to serve, and to give my life a ransom for many.”
As the disciples walked with Jesus on their last long journey with him, they had much to think about…
(Mark 9:30 − 10:52)