george hancock stefanWhen we study the gospels, it is clear that the expectations of Jesus and those of the disciples did not match. Throughout the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry, he spoke consistently about having to face the cross. But it is also true that Jesus Christ never spoke about His crucifixion and death without also telling them that He will rise from the dead on the third day.

There is a turning point in the lives of the 12 disciples when many followers of Jesus Christ just stood up and left Him. He asked the 12 if they were leaving also. Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)

Jesus had expectations of his disciples. He expected them to learn from him and very soon, he sent them two by two to do exactly what He did – to preach and to have authority over demons. In another place, he told them that he chose them so that they would bear much fruit. Jesus also chose them so that they would be his companions and his friends (Mark 3:14). In this last category, we find that He shared intimately with them during the Last Supper and He expected them to be able to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In the last week of Jesus’ life, the expectations became stronger. While Jesus was in the temple courts, some Greeks asked Philip to help them see Jesus. Some Bible commentators tell us that the Greeks went to Philip because he had a Greek name and they felt comfortable with asking him this important question.  Philip and Andrew presented the request to Jesus and Jesus praised God for this hour of glorification. It is important to see that the request of the Greeks brought an event in which the Father spoke from heaven, as he spoke at the baptism of Jesus. This time though, the words were different. In fact, one can argue that the words now were a confirmation of God’s pleasure with the work that the Son has done from baptism until now. The reply of God the Father to the Son was that He has glorified Him and He will glorify Him again. One can even say that the Father’s expectations for the Son have been fulfilled.

Yet there is a conflict with the expectations of Christ’s disciples and the plan of God for salvation. In fact, the disciples seemed to agree with the Devil. In the wilderness, the Devil tried to derail Jesus from going to the cross by offering Him all the glory of this world if the Son would worship him. The succinct message is that He could avoid the cross!

Later on, Peter and Judas carried the same message in different ways. After Jesus told the disciples that he would go to Jerusalem and face the cross, Peter (as the representative of the apostolic council) felt that he needed to have a conversation one-on-one with Jesus. The expectations that Peter had of Jesus did not include the cross. There are biblical commentators who believe that Judas’ betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver was a last hour attempt to make Jesus see that there were other expectations that the disciples had for Him. In fact, the cross was denied even when Jesus is on the cross. The people gathered around Jesus did not want a Messiah dying on the cross; they wanted one who is miraculous, victorious, and able to come down from the cross so that the multitude would believe in him.  A consistent opposition to the cross began in the wilderness and continued until the last breath of Jesus on this earth.  

But Jesus stays on the cross and now, all of these centuries later, we can say with the songwriter, “in the cross of Christ I will glory.”