The Disciple’s Vocation, Part 3: Co-Sufferers

Share It :

google+
More
The Disciple’s Vocation, Part 3: Co-Sufferers

ישו הנצרי מלך היהודים

Ο ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΩΝ ΟΥΤΟΣ

REX IUDAEORUM HIC EST

Three Languages, one message: This is the king of the Jews. In other words, what do you think of your king now?

As John and the three Mary’s (Jesus’ Mother, her sister, and Mary Magdalene) watched the culmination of that most horrific day, they couldn’t help but think, “it wasn’t supposed to end like this.” He was supposed to be crowned, but not with those awful thorns. He was supposed to be clothed in splendor, not stripped to a bloody nakedness. He was supposed to be exalted, but not like this—not on a cross at Golgotha.

As John crouched in the dust near his dying Lord, he shuddered to think that he had once vied for a place in this exaltation—for him and his brother, James, saying,

“‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’ And they said to him, ‘We are able.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared’” (Mark 10:37-40).

Now, John saw the bitter irony—a criminal flanked each side of Christ in this macabre coronation, the two “for whom it has been prepared.”[1]

Three days later, however, what had appeared nothing but a gruesome parody of kingship now shone forth as the most significant event in human history. Christ had become king, and the resurrection proved it. In doing so, sin and death, the chief tools of the world’s tyrant, Satan, had been defeated, and his days were numbered. Even the mocking sign placed upon the cross was turned into a true sign of things to come: in just a few years, many whose mother-tongues were Aramaic, Greek, or Latin would call Jesus ‘King.’ Christ’s victory changed everything.

But James and John would always remember these words: “The cup that I drink you will drink.” Jesus’ life was one of endurance, and he guarantees the same to every follower: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). Peter also puts it bluntly, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Pet 4:12). In other words, expect trials and suffering. Our adversary, Satan, is still at large, “a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). Defeat gives him a desperate rage, “because he knows that his time is short” (Rev 12:12). It’s hard to stomach, but the endurance of suffering makes up part of a disciple’s vocation.

Fortunately, it doesn’t end there. Jesus says, “In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christ gives us the daily encouragement we need to make it through every trial. He also sanctifies us into a new life, promising, “If we have died with him, we will also live with him” (2 Tim 2:11). Finally, he shows us His light at the end of the tunnel, saying “if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Tim 2:12). All this allows a perplexing phenomenon to take place: that you “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:13). For His hope shines through all despair, just as His light shines through all darkness.

Read the rest of this series on discipleship.

______

Notes.

[1] N.T. Wright, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels (New York: HarperOne, 2012), 259.

Share It :

google+
More

About the author

Nathan Mckee

Nathan McKee is a business professional with a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, lay-led ministry, and discipleship. He lives in Collegedale, Tennessee with his wife, Bethany, and son, Henry.