“Dad, do you have any plan for coming summer vacation?” My son asked me, and I said, “Nothing. Just stay at home.” And, he said, “Um, O.K.” And a few days after, he asked me, “Dad, where are we going for this summer vacation?” And I said, “Sorry, Ian. We will be here, at home, in Vancouver.” Then he said, “How could this happen to me!” And few days later, he asked again, “Dad, what did you say before? I forgot. where are we going for the vacation?” And I said again, “Sorry, we are not going to anywhere this summer. Just at home and rest, playing Lego together and watching the movies.” And he said again, “How could this happen to me!” He didn’t listen to me, and did not get it what his dad was saying. He heard, but failed to get it not because I told in Spanish or French, but because the vacation, for him, was not supposed to like that, to stay and rest at home. He had not expected at all to spend his vacation in watching movies and playing Lego at home.
“How could this happen to me!”
Jesus and his disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem. Taking the Twelve aside again, Jesus began to teach and tell them what was going to happen to him. “The Son of Man will be handed over to men, and they will kill him, but three days after his death he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him what he was saying. “How could this happen to You?”
Jesus asked before, “Who do you say that I am?” “You are the Messiah,” Peter answered. Their Master, their Lord, is the Son of God, the Messiah. He did not deny to be called the Messiah. So, they were just expecting the Messiah, the New King, to enter his capital city and take up his throne, and proclaim a new kingdom and rule over it. And, as a matter of course, they thought, they would become first in the new age and new world. And, one of them would become the greatest of all with Jesus the new king in his glorious reign.
But, . . . not yet. They are on the way, and the road has not ended yet. They are walking the way to Jerusalem now. So, it should be a secret among them. He ordered them already not to tell anyone about him. Yes of course. But they know, and he knows. He will be the king, And, they are his disciples, they are so privileged to share the secret with the Messiah. They should be first. Why not? But, . . . “How could this happen to him?”
“Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:14-21). Jesus rebuked them before. But, . . . “How could this happen to him?”
Some image of the Messiah has already existed in their thoughts, minds, and hearts. He will be king and they will be first in his glorious reign. But, Jesus said, their thinking, their expectation, did not come from God, but from human nature, the broken and fallen human nature. It is a different Messiah reflected and distorted in the surface of deep lake of the sinfulness and brokenness of humanity, and the craving of power, possessions, pleasure, and the human self-centeredness and selfishness.
“Lord! But, . . . No! It’s never gonna happen to you. You are the Messiah!” “How could this happen to You?” They were so afraid that what Jesus was saying would come true, become real. And they were so afraid that what Jesus was saying would happen to them, who had been following him and walking with him the way to Jerusalem. It should not be for real.
“How could this happen to You and . . . to Us?”
“If you want to be first, you must be last of all. If you want to be the greatest, you have to be the least of all. You must become a servant of all.” Did they understand this time what Jesus was saying? Then, Jesus took a little child and placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, and said, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.”
Walking with Jesus does not provide a way to be first of all as they expect. On the contrary, it is a way to be last of all, to be a servant of all. In the letter to the Philippians, Apostle Paul urges the people in Philippi to have the attitude that Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:6-11), and said, “He always had the nature of God, . . . but he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being, and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death.” However, “For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name.”
Apostle Paul is saying to us, Christian way of life, is the cross-centered, and self-denying way of life that Jesus chose and walked, and he calls his disciples to. As he was the servant who gave himself for others, especially for the little child symbolizing those who have lost their voices and powers and rights, and been treated invisible, insignificant, sinners. And As he became one of them to sit and eat with them, and died as the least on the cross. So his disciples are called to make themselves last and least to serve others and to become a servant of all.
The way to Jerusalem is not a way to run, but a way to walk alone and together with others, looking about to know and find out who stand or lag behind the company, looking for those who are in need now, and who are not able to walk because of their thirst, hunger, sickness, loneliness, and bitterness, and waiting, and serving and helping them to stand and to keep walking, and accepting them to the congregation, and keeping pace with them, and saying, “How are you!”
That is what the road of Jesus is all about. That is the faith journey. That is the way of Christian discipleship. That is the way of Christian life which Jesus is calling us to join and walk together.
“Dad, seriously, are you really not going to anywhere for your first and my precious vacation and just stay at home? Really?” Then, we have gone to Victoria and Salt-spring Island for few days, and enjoyed our vacation. “How could it happen to me!” But, it did not happen to my son.
However, it would happen to Jesus. What Jesus was saying would happen to him. And, later, as we know, it also would happen to the disciples. But it was not the end of the story. The cross of death is not the end at all. The way of the cross is the way of God’s glory. Death was not the last word that the disciples would meet at the end of the road.
Now, here, on the way, Jesus tells us walking with him, “You are on the way of the cross with me together. Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. You are on the way of the suffering servant with me together. Whoever wishes to walk with me, be last of all and servant of all. Whoever wishes to welcome me, welcome one of these children, one of the weak, the vulnerable around you, the little people treated as insignificant, invisible.”
“But remember. You are also on the way of God’s glory which you will see at the end of the road, and the time will come, and you will finally understand what I was saying and what I am saying now. I am there now, waiting for you, but I am also here now with you always, walking beside you.” “The Kingdom of Heaven has come, but not yet. The way will end. But, when you keep walking the way, you will see. You and I together are on the way of the cross, my road. It looks like the way of death, but remember, it is also the way of resurrection, the way of life. You will see finally at the end of the way, it is the way of the glory of God the Father that I walked.”
But, “On the way, Remember. Be last of all, be the servant of all like me. Look around who is the little children among you? Who is the least among you?” “I am among them. I am there in the midst of them, waiting for you to come and care of them and me. I was last of all, and I am still last of all among them to serve them all and make you and them all first.”
Dear friends in Christ, let us keep walking the way together.