“Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid.” Mark 10:32
I’ve come across this verse many times before but this time, something hit me. It has to do with the way the sentences are ordered. The order doesn’t seem right – the second sentence doesn't seem to align with the first. Actually, it ignores it as if it's not even there!
The first part says that “Jesus was going before them.” This sounds really good, amazing actually! Jesus is leading the way, hooray! What is there to worry about?! If God if for us who can be against us?! We’re finally safe, relax everyone, He’s here.
Well I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that was not how the people who followed Jesus felt like. Really? Yes!
Moving to the rest of the verse, it says that they were afraid. Period. How come?! They were following Him – how could they still be afraid?! There’s something fishy here.
If we go back a couple of passages we will know that the Lord told them about what He was about to face in Jerusalem and that’s what gave them the chills. However, I believe the verse sends us today a certain message.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
We're usually taught that when we follow Jesus Christ, our lives become peaceful and at harmony regardless of the situation. And that seems to mesh with the two verses above. So, we do the things that followers of Jesus Christ do. We go to church every week, we pray daily, we start incorporating the habit of a daily quiet time into our busy lives. But have we noticed any change?
Maybe some, but it doesn’t always last very long. I mean the peace. We know that God always fulfills His promises, so what is keeping Him from fulfilling His promise with the heavenly peace flowing in our hearts?
The truth? It’s YOU! And ME… it’s US!
The way we deal with our daily situations and problems prevents us from enjoying the divine peace God has kept in store for us. How is that possible?
Imagine a scuba diver getting prepared for a dive, putting on the suit and all the equipment, then goes into the water, comes out and goes back home with all the gadgets still on; the mask, regulator, fins and, last but not least, the tank! That’s exactly what we do in prayer, we dive in with all what’s on our minds and we leave with it all, if not after adding some salty thoughts as well.
So why doesn’t God do something about this? Why doesn’t He stop me from thinking or guard my thoughts from wandering around?
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10
Distraction is Deadly
He can definitely help, but we have to play our part; we need to focus.
I recall St. Peter’s encounter with Jesus Christ in the sea, in the midst of a storm, waves, wind, unrest, you name it. What was he thinking when he asked the Lord to call him out of the boat?
I certainly don’t know what kind of courage he had to go for such a request. But he did! And the Lord granted his wish! That’s even more bizarre!
But looking at what happens next in the story, we see that St. Peter was one step away from drowning, so was that a trap? Of course not! He loved him! So why would he ask him to do something that might end his life or bring him so close to death?
Well, he didn’t die. Jesus was there for the rescue. When the Lord asked him to get out of the boat, He saw faith in Peter's eyes. Then.. distraction kicked in. He lost FOCUS! Which in turn shook his FAITH!
Exactly like what happened to the people following the Lord to Jerusalem. Yes they followed Him, but no they weren’t focused on Him. Maybe they had faith in Him, but their faith wasn’t personal. They didn’t believe that the LORD’s goodness will work for their favor.
We do this a lot, we do follow Christ, we pray and ask for His peace and guidance but as soon as we leave our praying room we lose focus - sometimes even before we leave it. It has never been harder to focus on something nowadays, and I believe Satan’s most powerful weapon today is distraction; let’s keep them busy, disoriented, overwhelmed with so many information that they don’t even need to know anything about.
And nothing is more detrimental to our inner peace than losing sight of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Is There Any Hope?
“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
We should strive to be where the Spirit of the Lord is. That is, in His Presence. And that will set our minds free. Staying focused on the LORD means spending more time with His Word, praying more, praising Him more, hanging out with spiritual people more.
There is no communion between light and darkness, if we sow in our minds worldly thoughts we will reap anxiety, fear and sadness, but if we stay FOCUSED on the LORD and His Word, everything will change. Trust Him.