Opening thoughts: As I was reading this passage in Luke a couple things struck me. The first thing that really hit me was when Jesus says the words “Let these words sink into your ears” it’s likely something you should stop and think about. When I read it, the first thing I thought was “okay, you have my attention”. Jesus puts a lot of emphasis on ears in the Gospels. “You who have ears” or “I say to you who hear” and “Be careful how you hear” and now He says “Let these words sink into your ears”. Jesus clearly wants us to pay attention.
Selective Hearing: Our son Max has a bit of a problem with his ears, or should I say he has selective hearing, in other words, he hears what he wants to. We often tell him something and he will respond “Okay daddy”, then I will ask him what I had just said and he’ll respond “I don’t know.” When we are being told something that doesn’t fit with our thinking or maybe it goes against how we feel it should go, for instance maybe it’s hard to hear, often times like Max we choose to be selective with our hearing. There are three times that Jesus tells the disciples that He will suffer and die and all three times he follows it with instructions on how to be a disciple. So many times as Christians we are told that suffering is not from God and that as a Christian we should not expect to suffer at all. I’m here to say if you believe that you have Selective Hearing and Jesus words have not sunk down deep into your ears!
(Luke 9:43-48 ESV) But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples,  “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”  But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.  But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side  and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Childlike: In this passage we see Jesus talking about his future suffering warning His disciples to open their ears wide. I think it’s fair to say that children lack understanding, they ask so many questions and many times they still don’t understand. For example, if they ask if they can have ice cream for dinner, you give them the speech as to why that’s not the way it’s done and that they need to eat a healthy dinner possibly followed by a small treat for desert. The child will go along with you, but deep down they still don’t get why they can’t have ice cream for dinner. Why? Because they think that ice cream is good for them. They lack understanding, so they have to resort to trust.
The Greatest: When Jesus tells the disciples that He must suffer and die he says, “are you listening”? They still don’t get it because their hearts are still fixed on Jesus rising up in power and taking over the nation with them ruling at His side. Many times like the disciples we lack the understanding for the situations we find ourselves in; someone dies, we lose a job, someone in our family is suffering etc., and we don’t understand why. Perhaps just like the disciples we are often times too afraid to ask why these things are happening because we don’t really want to know the reason or meaning. We must rid our minds of the thoughts of success and start thinking in the terms that it’s a privilege to suffer with Jesus in order that we might be glorified with him (Romans 8:17). When we think that it is God’s will for us to be successful we start fighting about who will be the greatest in the kingdom.
Jesus says that anyone who embraces the least of of people is the one who embraces Jesus and the Father. The greatest is not what we measure as great but great in the kingdom is someone who has given everything up for the service of his king. The prodigal son knew he did not deserve great things from his father and took on the approach of a servant, willing and ready to serve his father, and the son who was at home the whole time thought he deserved so much more and in the end he became the least. God rejects the proud and gives grace to the humble in spirit.
(Mark 8:31-38 ESV)  And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Suffering Savior, Suffering Servant: I have heard countless times John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” being quoted from a standpoint of promise for health, wealth and prosperity. This is not sound doctrine if you compare it with all the other teachings of Jesus and the apostles. All through the New Testament Jesus and the apostles not only tell us that the godly will suffer but they promise us we will. Peter doesn’t like the sound of Jesus suffering “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him” can you imagine rebuking Jesus? Jesus doesn’t stand for any of that, He rebukes him right back saying “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Jesus wasn’t saying that Peter himself was Satan, that’s silly. He was saying that Peter suggesting that suffering wasn’t part of God’s will was satanic, and comes from the heart of fallen nature. He told him you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on man.
Where is Your Heart set: If our hearts are set on the things of God and His kingdom then we will never suggest that the Christian walk is served on a silver platter of divine interventions. After Jesus rebukes Peter, he goes on to tell the disciples that anyone who wants to be His disciple must deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Him. The Gospel is such good news that all the hardships that could possibly come at us in this life should only cause us to look forward to the day, with greater intensity, when we will be with him. Every true Christian will see trials as an opportunity to put more and more of their trust in Christ, and depend less and less on themselves and their abilities.
Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Closing Thoughts: Do you actually see everything in this life as LOSS, meaning worthless? Because knowing Jesus is so much more valuable than all the money in the world would ever hope to be?? Don’t be foolish and just answer with the canned Christian answer because you know you’ll get 100% on the test. Jesus sees your heart, be honest and real! Do you actually desire Jesus more than anything in this entire world? Think about it, don’t just say it. If you don’t then you are lost. If you were at this very moment dying of thirst, within hours of death, and on one side of you was a pile of gold as tall as a mountain and the other side a glass of water, which would you desire more? Anyone in their right mind would choose the glass of water. If Christ doesn’t look like that glass of water then you need to get on your face and cry out for Him to reach down and change the desires of your heart. You need a baptism of anguish over the weight of your sin and a revelation of hell’s eternity and then you will see Jesus like that fountain of living water, that tall glass of water.
Preparing The Way