Larry Kirkpatrick

A Positive Place on the Web for the Third Angel's Message

The Cross before the Crown

Someone said the Cross comes before the crown, and they were right. Consider our Bible passage Mark 10:32-34:

They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. Again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.'

Let's look at three facts from this story: (1) The feelings of the disciples as they journeyed, (2) Jesus' emphatic message to them, (3) His ultimate triumph.

On the Road with Jesus

The Holy Spirit gave us not one but four gospel accounts. Certain events and incidents are recorded in one gospel but not in others, or in two of the four, or three. Our Scripture reading today came from Mark, which of the four gospel records alone preserves this interesting insight:

They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful.

They are on their way. Jesus is in front. The group is coming but they are amazed and afraid at the same time. They are following Jesus but they are afraid. They are coming but they are hanging back. Jesus is out front of them all.

Consider this insight from The Desire of Ages

The time of the Passover was drawing near, and again Jesus turned toward Jerusalem. In His heart was the Peace of perfect oneness with the Father's will, and with eager steps He pressed on toward the place of sacrifice. But a sense of mystery, of doubt and fear, fell upon the disciples. The Saviour 'went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed they were afraid.' DA 547).

Jesus has perfect peace because He is surrendered to His father's will. But the disciples are behind. They do not understand the reasons for the situation. They fear what might happen; and well they might. Jesus knows His Father's will and although it will mean His death on the cross He moves relentlessly, even eagerly, toward Golgotha. The disciples lack that clarity. They hang back.

Jesus Prophesies the Cross

Jesus stops, gathers the disciples, and steers them to the side of the road. He's going to prophesy to them.

First He tells how He will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They need to know what will happen so that when it comes to pass, they will realize that He knew and He walked into it anyway.

We all walk into the future. God knows us and knows exactly what we are walking into. He's ready for it. He won't let us down. If we seek to do His will, He will be with us, guiding, strengthening, encouraging, and standing beside us when we are harassed or persecuted for Jesus.

The disciples, if not in the front of their minds at least in the back, still anticipated and Jesus would take David's throne and drive out the Romans. So long as Jesus' mission remained vague in their minds, that viewpoint lived in them. So Jesus takes them aside to tell them they are wrong.

Jesus will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. The King will be handed over to the shallow pretenders and to those who delight in standing over others. That will not be King treatment.

They will arraign Him before them and they will pass judgment on Him. He will be condemned. That will not be King treatment.

But He will not only be handed over; not only be subjected to a kangaroo trial and condemned; He will be taken out and hung up to die.

Jesus will be murdered.

There are reasons. Jesus came and upset the masters of the world. He not only talked different, His actions were different. It was the intolerable mixture. He came to correct the course of things, to change the world. You and I choose to follow Him. What will our fate be?

Jesus takes His disciples aside and tells them He will be condemned to die, tortured, and then, yes, killed. Before the crown comes the cross.

Right now we are preaching through Jesus' temptations in the wilderness and number two and number three are still coming. I think we already know what number three was. It was a bribe. Satan, exposed, simply tells Jesus you can go around the cross; you can have the crown without the cross; the cross is optional. Just give me this little concession and all shall be yours.

Jesus saw through it of course. There must be the cross before the crown. But we are bargain hunters and we fool ourselves that we are somehow a little smarter than others, a little swifter, we have a better gift for negotiation. We think we see discounts to the suffering part, that this time the crown is 50% off.

But it never is. Ever.

That is one of the messages of the Bible really: there are no shortcuts. An eternal kingdom is not made out of shortcuts. Righteous living is not the result of shortcuts. There was no shortcut for Jesus around the cross. There is no shortcut around the ways of Jesus for the follower of Jesus.

So Jesus takes them aside and prophesies to them. I will be handed over, I will be subjected to trials, I will be condemned, I will be tortured, and I will be killed.

Not quite the Davidic grand entry everyone has in mind. And yet, check this, who has peace and who is afraid? The disciples who want that grand entry are the fearful. And Jesus, who is moving relentlessly to Calvary is the one who has peace.

There is a lesson here for us.

When we are unsure of the future we lag behind our Lord. That's why Jesus pauses along the way to give us messages of help and hope. That's why He did this very thing on the road to Jerusalem. He stopped, took them aside, and prophesied to them. This is how the immediate future will be.

But He did not stop at the cross. Yes, before the crown is the cross. But there is the crown.

The Crown

And so, Jesus' prophesying did not end with the cross. Recall the last lines of this word:

They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.'

After the suffering, the crown. Jesus rose again. He who gives life mastered death. He defeated death. And He rose from the grave.

He was not of this world; He was murder-material. Two immovable forces faced each other, only the sin and selfishness side is not immovable. It is an illusory side. It is a temporary thing. It cannot abide, cannot endure; it must self-destruct. Given time it hangs itself on its own rope. It is a covenant with death (Isaiah 28).

But we are offered a covenant of life. Jesus is the prince of life (Acts 3:15). He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

Our story reminds us that Jesus is a faithful Shepherd. He tells us the future before it come to pass. He pauses to gather His flock. He suffers. He prepares us for suffering. There is a cross before the crown but there are both parts when we are faithful. Yes, suffering, but praise be to God yes, the crown. And it is not exactly our crown. Jesus is King. He makes us overcomers by His strength not by ours. So our crowns are really His crowns, our thrones are really His thrones. Graciously He offers to share His throne with us. But it is HIS THRONE. He gives gifts to the unworthy. He loves us.

In a world with everyone shouting out shortcuts the Christian sees Jesus journey to the cross and then receive His crown. He is Lord and we are His servants. He alone is good. He makes the way. We need to draw closer. We need to respect His prophesyings and His prophets. Then we will accomplish the special journey He has for each of us. Then we will endure the cross and despise the shame and He will be Lord to us.


Deer Park WA SDA 2019-02-02

Chewelah WA SDA 2020-02-09