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THE FEAR OF THE DISCIPLES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 22, 2015

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid...” (Mark 10:32).


We saw, in last night’s sermon (Saturday night) that Jesus left Galilee and started moving toward Jerusalem. He knew He would be confronted there. As Dr. John Gill said, “[with] many enemies, men and devils to grapple with, and undergo a painful, shameful and accursed death, yet none of these things moved him, he was [stedfastly set] on going [there]” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 589; note on Luke 9:51).

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid...” (Mark 10:32).

The NIV adds the word “disciples,” saying, “The disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid.” But the word “disciples” is not in the Textus Receptus Greek text. This makes it seem that the Disciples were astonished, but those who followed behind them were afraid. The KJV makes it clear that it was not only the twelve Disciples, but the entire group of Jesus’ followers, who were both amazed and afraid. The 1599 Geneva Bible also puts that light on it,

“And they were in the way going to Jerusalem, and Jesus went before them, and they were troubled, and as they followed, they were afraid...”

The new translations, based on a corrupted Gnostic-influenced text, tend to bring confusion rather than clarity. That is why we preach only from the KJV.

Now I am going to bring two simple points from the Scriptures: first, the fear of the Disciples; and, second, the reasons for their fear.

I. First, the fear of the Disciples.

Our text says, “they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid.” The Greek word translated “amazed” means “astonished.” The Geneva Bible of 1599 translates it as “troubled.” The idea is that they were amazed, astonished and deeply troubled. They were also “afraid,” frightened, alarmed. The Greek word translated “afraid” is “phobeo,” from which we get our English word “phobia.” It means they were really very afraid of going to Jerusalem. They were astonished and deeply troubled and very fearful of following Jesus to Jerusalem.

The root of their fear came from the fact that they did not yet understand the Gospel. A few months earlier Jesus asked the Disciples, “Whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17; cf. Mark 8:29). This shows that Peter had some illumination, some God-given understanding of who Jesus was. God had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Yet a short time later, in Matthew 16:21-23, we read,

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:21-23).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee gave these comments,

For the first time the Lord Jesus announces to His disciples His death and resurrection. The time was approximately six months before He was actually crucified. Why did He wait so long to make such an important announcement? Obviously, His disciples were not prepared for it, even at this time, judging from their reaction. He repeated five times the fact that He was going to Jerusalem to die (Matthew [16:21]; 17:12; 17:22-23; 20:18-29; 20:28). In spite of this intensive instruction, the disciples failed to grasp the significance of it... until after His resurrection (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D. Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 93; note on Matthew 16:21).

God had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. That fact had been illuminated to him by God, but he did not know the Gospel, even when Jesus told him that “he must go unto Jerusalem...and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). So Peter rebuked Jesus for saying He would be killed (Matthew 16:22). Dr. McGee said, “In essence, Peter said, ‘You are the Messiah; you are the Son of God. You must not, you cannot go to the cross!’ The cross was not in the thinking of the apostles at all, as you can see” (ibid., note on Matthew 16:22).

“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23).

Dr. McGee said, “It is Satanic for anyone to deny the facts of the gospel which are that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead...Our Lord said to Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’ Imagine this: Here is Peter by whom the Spirit of God could say that Jesus was the Son of God, and yet he could in the next moment let Satan deceive him!” (ibid., note on Matthew 16:23).

I am convinced that this explains why the Disciples were afraid to go to Jerusalem.

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid...” (Mark 10:32).

II. Second, the reasons for their fear.

Instead of comforting them, Jesus repeated the very thing that caused their fear. Please stand and read Mark 10:32-34 aloud,

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Mark 10:32-34).

You may be seated.

How can we explain the fact that Peter and the other Disciples knew that Jesus was the Messiah, and yet not know that He was going to die on the Cross and rise from the dead? Chuck Missler gives the explanation,

      When one examines the numerous Old Testament predictions of the appearance of the Messiah of Israel, we find two [apparently] contradictory presentations. Many passages portray a suffering servant; others clearly emphasize a ruling king. These [various] passages resulted in a view anticipating two Messiahs: Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant; and Messiah Ben David, the ruling King, respectively.
      When Jesus made His appearance, the overriding expectation of the Messiah Ben David – the reigning King who was to deliver Israel from the world’s evil rulers – was so prevalent that they did not recognize Him! The recognition of one Messiah in two distinct “comings” is now clearly acknowledged among conservative scholars.
      Even the most highly venerated Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Itzak Kaduri, left his bombshell note declaring that the “two Messiahs are one” and His name is Yehoshua [Jesus]!...his note, then unsealed [after his death] has caused the Orthodox [Jewish] community in Israel considerable consternation; Israel Today, April 6, 2007 (Chuck and Nancy Missler, The Kingdom, Power and Glory, King’s High Way Ministries, 2010 edition, p. 317).

Like most others in the Jewish community of Israel, the Disciples expected Messiah Ben David, the Messiah, the Son of David, who would liberate Israel from Roman oppression. They did not expect Messiah Ben Joseph, the Suffering Servant. They did not recognize that the Messiah would first come to suffer – and would not come to reign and rule the earth until His Second Coming. I believe this is why Judas betrayed Jesus, when he realized He was not going to be the ruler of Israel – at that time. I also believe that this is the psychological reason that Peter rebuked Jesus for saying He would be killed (Matthew 16:22). And I believe this is the psychological reason that all the Disciples were afraid to follow Jesus to Jerusalem where He said He would die. They simply could not understand that “the two Messiahs are one and His name is Yehoshua” – Jesus! (Missler, ibid.). They did not want to believe in a suffering Messiah! They wanted prosperity, not suffering! That is the psychological explanation.

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid...” (Mark 10:32).

Yet there is another, more important, reason for their fear, the spiritual reason. Turn to Luke 18:31-34. Please stand and read those verses aloud.

“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken” (Luke 18:31-34).

You may be seated. I want you to pay special attention to verse 34,

“And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken” (Luke 18:34).

“This saying was hid from them.” Just as God had “revealed” to Peter that Jesus was the Son of God – so now God “hid from them” the need for Christ to suffer. Notice, in verse 31, Jesus said He was going to Jerusalem to accomplish the things “that are written by the prophets.” Here He is referring to the Old Testament prophecies of the Suffering Messiah, in such places as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.

“This saying was hid from them” – so they “were afraid.” As Dr. McGee said, “He repeated five times the fact that He was going to Jerusalem to die [but] the disciples failed to grasp the significance of it all until after His resurrection...The cross was not in the thinking of the apostles at all” (ibid.).

“This saying was hid from them” until, as Dr. McGee said, “after His resurrection.” Jesus appeared to the Disciples, on the evening of the day He rose from the dead,

“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:45-46).

At the very same time, John’s Gospel says,

“He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).

Dr. McGee said, “I personally believe that at the moment our Lord breathed on them, and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost,’ these men were regenerated [born again]. Before this, they had not been indwelt by the Spirit of God” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., ibid., p. 498; note on John 20:21). I could not agree with Dr. McGee more! I listened to him on the radio every morning while going to work, for ten years in the 1960s. You can hear him on the Internet at www.thruthebible.org. I believe that Dr. McGee gives us a great insight here, not understood by many people: The Disciples were not born again until Easter evening!

Like the Disciples, you can read the Scriptures, and even memorize them, but you, like them, will remain fearful and unbelieving until the Spirit of God convinces you of your sin, and draws you to Christ, regenerates your dead soul, and you are cleansed from all sin by the Blood of Christ (cf. I John 1:7). We pray that this may happen to you soon. Please stand and sing hymn number 2 on your song sheet, “Jesus’ Sorrow,” by Richard Mant.

See the destined day arise! See a willing sacrifice,
Jesus to redeem our loss, Hangs upon a shameful Cross.

Jesus, who but Thou had borne, Lifted on that Cross of scorn,
Every pang and bitter throe, Finishing Thy life of woe?

Who but Thou had dared to drain, Steeped in gall, the cup of pain,
And with tender body bear Thorns, and nails, and piercing spear?

Holy Jesus, grant us grace, In that sacrifice to place
All our trust for life renewed, Pardoned sin, and promised good.
   (“Jesus’ Sorrow” by Richard Mant, 1776-1848;
      to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).

Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Mark 10:32-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus’ Sorrow” (by Richard Mant, 1776-1848).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE FEAR OF THE DISCIPLES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid...” (Mark 10:32).

I.   First, the fear of the Disciples, Matthew 16:15-17, 21-23.

II.  Second, the reasons for their fear, Mark 10:32-34;
Luke 18:31-34; 24:45-46; John 20:22.